Some of us think of our siblings as friends for life. Those of us who have siblings also know that much of the time, your bonds can transcend friendship, and sometimes not in a good way. Both forms of love between siblings are lovingly rendered in James Shade’s debut novel, Thieves of Islar.
Young Jaeron, Chazd and Avrilla deAlto lose their father, Henri, in a tragic house fire. To avenge him, the siblings form a guild with their closest friends and relatives in order to squash his murderer under their feet. But that’s not the only mystery Jaeron intends to solve, unbeknownst to his siblings. And their father’s murderer has a diabolical plan in mind.
Shade has a brilliant way of painting exquisite portraits of his characters. His description of the deAlto’s Uncle Ardo and his regrets remains firmly lodged in my memory. Shade gives every character who appears in his tale a purpose, and he renders their purposes with tremendous care. There’s a reason why you’ll come away remembering the names of the core characters.
When it comes to friendship and familial love, Shade writes in the manner of an expert. The connections the characters share feel raw and heavy with emotion, especially in regards to brothers Jaeron and Chazd.
At times, I felt as though Shade could have added more of his genuine flair to the dialogue between his characters. Throughout the novel, there were portions where the dialogue came off as stiff on the basis of the plot being swiftly driven along, leaving too little in the way of character development.
On a similar note, the beginning of the novel comes off the page as rather more stiff than the novel’s middle passage and conclusion. Once Shade introduces the reader to his memorable cast of characters and their predicaments, he thrusts the reader into the intriguing underbelly of Islar.
Might I add Shade’s worldbuilding skills are magnificent. The underbelly of Islar, populated by thieves, musicians, and cannibalistic mistresses of evil intent ensnare you. It’s a good thing a sequel will follow because much of this enjoyable story has yet to come.
Thieves of Islar, Book One of The Heirs of Bormeer, was published on September 1, 2015. It is 482 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback and $4.99 for the digital version. The cover art is by Katharina Nikola and Steffen Brand.
Zeta Moore’s last review for us was Paula Guran’s The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu. She is exploring work in care for individuals on the autism spectrum, and nerding out when she can.