The Legend of Eli Monpress #1. Author: Rachel Aaron.
Eli Monpress is a classically charming, cock-sure thief with a past. Unlike other thieves, however, he has honed his escape technique with an unusual tool: he just asks. The door was happy to oblige. Right now, his goal is to raise his bounty. He started off by kidnapping a minor king, who shouldn’t cause too much trouble. As might be expected, everything went wrong. The question now is not merely whether Eli can fix it… but whether he is honorable enough to try.
Disclaimer: I read this book in the Legend of Eli Monpress omnibus, which encompasses the first three books. I think that alone, it would not have been as good; Aaron hints at character background without fulfilling, has a few quick expositions on the magical world but doesn’t fully explain, and leaves us rather unsatisfied at the end. Still, I loved it. Fast-paced and humorous, The Spirit Thief is chock-full of fascinating characters (and aggravating characters) and an interesting magic system.
Eli fits quite well into a certain stereotype of cocky thief, but he has his own character which sets him apart from others. For one, there’s his modus operandi. “You – you just talked to the spirit without any go between, and asked it to do something?” “Yes. I just asked.” Eli’s not above tricking spirits into helping him, but he almost always helps them in return. Then there’s the company he keeps, the mysterious swordsman and the demonseed. So many questions… for the next book.
Sexual content: None.
Language: 4 d***, 3 derogatory names, 1 hell
Violence: Man knocked out by blow to head. Lightning spirit (controlled by wizard) strikes man. A brief but bloody sword fight. Man enslaves spirits to his will. A man uses a support beam to fight, bowling down multiple soldiers. Sandstorm spirit is imprisoned until it goes mad, then when released it razes everything around it. One predator/demon eats a spirit. Water spirit drowns a man. One prolonged swordfight, at the end of which one of the contestants dies.
Other: The MC is a thief, and there is some stealing; neither is portrayed in a very unfavorable light. It should also be noted that there are ‘demons’. These are basically predators of the spirit world, eating the life of everything around them. They are also parasites; to grow to full size, they must hide within, and feed off of, a human. However, there is nothing spiritual about them. Everyone knows they are evil and fights them, and the demons themselves seem little more than unusual and powerful predators.