I’ve first learned about this book by the author’s site or, more exactly, Carol Berg’s site – Cate Glass being a new pseudonym of Carol Berg. I was immediately intrigued: I’ve read nearly all Carol Berg’s books and loved them for most parts (the characters for a start, so loveable!) but have also been sometimes ill at ease because of some graphic violence (never gratuitous or unwholesome, but still difficult to read for the over sensitive reader I am) and also lost by some stories’ developments, a bit to esoteric for my taste. So, I was wondering what changes would have occur in the author’s writing to push her to make the decision to adopt a pseudonym. After reading this book, I can tell is was all for the best !
« An illusion of thieves » was a very easy read, enthralling and enjoyable. If some violence exists in the world, and some happens or has happened to the characters, no longish descriptions are imposed on us; just a very brief one, that even hypersensitive readers will probably bear without difficulties.
After the first chapter, where the world is explained, no special efforts are required from the reader, the narration is straight forward, the characters rather few and quite easy to distinguish. Just note that the fantasy society is vaguely inspired by the Florentine Medici Dynasty and that names are Italian or at least Italianish (I wouldn’t know the difference, alas…). As a French reader I’m used to Latin surnames, but I know that some readers find this choice difficult to follow in a book.
The second thing to know is that even if the main character, Romy, was brought up to be a courtisane (a high maintenance, highly educated prostitute) you’ll find no sex in this story. Hurrah! No graphic violence and no boring sexe scene ! So, you’re warned, if you’re looking for some Game of Thrones fantasy you should try something else. But if you love, as I do, well written classic fantasy with likeable characters, fine psychology, a good rhythm and some mi prosaic mi breathtaking adventures, you’re in for a treat!
Romy is a superb character to follow: courageous, clever and lucid, but also prone now and then to human frailties. The beginning of the book, where she struggles with her loss while attempting to protect and reform her dangerously carefree young brother, is very touching and credible.
All in all, even if the background is classically cruel and perilous, and if the heroine situation are dire since the beginning of the story, the main tonality is quite positive and heart-warming. « An illusion of thieves » is a spirited adventure with strong sentiments of love: family ties, friendship and bittersweet lost love.
I’m really looking forward reading the sequel which is clearly announced by the conclusion – but without any annoying cliffhanger, the story clearly marking a pause at the end of this first book of Chimera adventures.
A book I strongly recommend to every fantasy reader who likes a good story, linear and imaginative, with appealing characters whom have already lived a life of their own and present some welcome substance (no Young Adult vibe here, even is the narrative is devoid of graphic violence and sexe scenes, the characters’ psychology is sound and mature).
(I thank Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)