This Week, I Read… (2017 #14)

49 - Royal Thief

#49 – Royal Thief, by Laura Kehoe

The bones of an interesting epic fantasy story, marred by a lack of cohesive or in-depth worldbuilding. I never got the sense that there was anything distinctive about the setting–it’s a kingdom, with a bad king and The Resistance, and there are other countries too, and it’s a pretty box-standard fantasy world beyond that. There’s not much history or cultural nuance to give it any flavor.

There were also some worldbuilding issues with what was there–why does the king take the Resistance seriously when it’s only a hundred people total? Not even a hundred fighters, but one hundred including the elderly and the children. How big a threat could that possibly be, if they were nearly wiped out in a single battle years ago and (spoiler!) basically are again at the end of the book? Why does the Resistance constantly refer to their rebellion as a “war” when they’re not doing anything to engage the king’s forces in any way? Why are the king’s forces usually called “guards” even when they’re clearly soldiers? Infantry, even? “Guards” guard things. Like the king’s personal guard, sure, or men stationed about the castle or the walls or town gates. But troops marching to fight the Resistance aren’t “guarding” anything. I know it’s a small thing, but it irked me every time I read it.

All that being said, the characters are decently developed within the constraints of the world, and a few (Elaise, Amara, Catrain) are particularly engaging and memorable. Some of the conversations got a bit repetitive–yes, I get it, the Resistance needs supplies, you don’t need to say it every three pages–but when the characters simply get to talk to each other without plot-dumping, they shine.


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