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Review of The Blacktongue Thief


Blurb: Kinch Na Shannack owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for his education as a thief, which includes (but is not limited to) lock-picking, knife-fighting, wall-scaling, fall-breaking, lie-weaving, trap-making, plus a few small magics. His debt has driven him to lie in wait by the old forest road, planning to rob the next traveler that crosses his path.


But today, Kinch Na Shannack has picked the wrong mark.


Galva is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and handmaiden of the goddess of death. She is searching for her queen, missing since a distant northern city fell to giants.


Unsuccessful in his robbery and lucky to escape with his life, Kinch now finds his fate entangled with Galva's. Common enemies and uncommon dangers force thief and knight on an epic journey where goblins hunger for human flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters, and honor is a luxury few can afford.


Review: Kinch Na Shannack is a thief in debt. He's struggling to pay off his debt to the Takers Guild, and so they offer him a job to do so. He's to follow the brave warrior Galva across the continent to where giants have invaded a country. Yet the mission the Guild has for him may conflict with Galva's mission, and there's no way he would survive a battle with her. Kinch must choose where his loyalties lie and survive the dangerous journey to reach their goal.


Christopher Buehlman is one of my favorite horror writers. So when I saw he wrote a fantasy, I eagerly picked it up. This is a fantastic dark fantasy (very dark!) with a snarky anti-hero who has a clever black tongue. The story is humorous and frightening all at once, full of tension and intrigue. The world building is fabulous with a rich and brutal history. One of the biggest villains are the goblins. No silly little green critters are these. They are terrifying! The people call them "biters" and for good reason. There are giants, pirates, and a highly intelligent kraken. Never mind the people themselves! You never know when someone or something might be out to get Kinch. The Takers Guild is powerful, corrupt, and is everywhere. This is a great deep dive into a thieves' guild, and I appreciated all the details. I love that a lot of the magic is based on tattoos, and most magic is dark, born of blood, dirt, and spit. One of the most powerful witches is a crone called Deadlegs. She is scarier than all the tales of Baba Yaga. And as we learn through the book, a whole lot more complex.


Kinch is a fascinating and fun character to journey with, but I adore his companions even more. Galva is a hardened warrior, the handmaiden of the goddess of death. She's searching for the witch queen who disappeared when the giants invaded her country, and nothing will deter her from this goal. She has a giant magic dire raven tattooed on her chest and can release it to fight with her. I'm excited that Buehlman's next book will be a prequel to this one and it will feature Galva. I also liked Norrigal, who is a young witch with a blossoming power. Kinch falls for her, and the romance feels wonderfully natural between the two. I would love to see her story as well.


You can find Christopher Buehlman on his site and buy the book here.

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