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Stephen Deas

The Memory of Flames, book 2

Orion (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-575-08378-3

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

The King of the Crags is an awkward book to review in that it sits right there in the middle of the road; a good enough book, but not anything very special.  It was an entertaining enough read, but not particularly memorable. There’s not really a lot wrong with it, but it doesn’t stand out in any way either.

One difficulty with The King of the Crags may be that it’s the second in a trilogy; these often don’t stand alone very well, and it’s not fair to expect them to do so. However, I haven’t read either the first or last in this trilogy, which means that for me The King of the Crags had to stand alone. It was reasonably easy to pick up on the plot, and to some extent on the cast of characters; but I did feel that the characterisation in particular probably suffered from the fact I hadn’t read the first. Many of the characters seemed a little sketchy and it was hard to care about their dilemmas to any extent. Given that Deas is a reasonably good writer, I have to conclude that this is likely, at least in part, to be due to the fact I was unaware of the character establishment and development of volume one.

Stephen Deas

Orion

ISBN: 978-0-575-09448-2

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice is a fairly good book, but it’s distinctly lacking in sympathetic or likeable characters. As a result, it’s hard to picture what audience the novel will find, and many readers may not bother to look for the next in the series. There is no indication of how many books are planned, but there are enough loose ends in the plot to fuel several.

Berren is a thief, and has been for most of his life. Early on the orphanage sold him to the thief who is his master; he lives a particularly squalid version of Oliver Twist’s life, with his master, Hatchet, brutally controlling a gang of young boys through violence, starvation, and lack of choice. One day Berren goes to watch an execution of three thieves; blood thirsty like many young boys, he thinks this would be fine entertainment, as well as a chance to pick a few pockets. But Berren makes a mistake; he sees the purse of gold the thief-taker is given as a reward for capturing the (soon executed) thieves. Berren wants that purse and follows the thief-taker with intent to take it.

Things don’t go exactly as planned, and Berren soon finds himself more or less forced into apprenticeship with the thief-taker. By most people’s standards this is a better life than the one he’s been dragged from, but Berren isn’t sure he agrees. His master is mysterious, and Berren doesn’t understand much of the intrigue that underlies their work. But he knows this might be his best chance to be Someone Important. And at least he gets fed more regularly.

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