Review: Crown Thief / Author: David Tallerman / Publisher: Angry Robot / Release Date: Out Now
Crown Thief is David Tallerman’s second novel, and sees the return of thief and reluctant hero, Easie Damasco. It’s good to have him back.
Damasco is one of those characters who could easily fall into trite cliché, but David Tallerman’s writing ensures that this never happens. As in Giant Thief, Damasco is the ultimate victim of circumstance, and it’s often his situation that forces him to act rather than his better judgement. As narrator, he is first to admit this failing, that he is caught up in events rather than the creator of them.
It’s here where the book could fall down; as Easie tells the story, it’s difficult to believe he’s in any real jeopardy – anyone trying to kill a narrator is (usually) going to fail – but that doesn’t mean to say they won’t do him any damage, physically or emotionally. Crown Thief sees up to three would-be assassins on Easie’s tail, providing more jeopardy for the accompanying characters than himself, yet Tallerman’s writing is such that it prevents this from being a concern; if Easie is worried, the reader is worried, so convincing is his voice.
Another welcome return is Saltlick, the giant who accompanied Easie through the first novel. Saltlick has a smaller part to play in Crown Thief and, although the story doesn’t suffer from it, I missed him. Saltlick’s a simple character, yet this makes him all the more warm and genuine. His interactions with Easie can make the reader laugh or cry, and it’s a shame not to have these characters together more. Easie’s a better person when Saltlick’s around, surprising both himself and the reader with attacks of conscience, and the two of them are becoming one of my favourite fantasy novel pairings.
When Giant Thief arrived at the end of last year, I didn’t expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Crown Thief is more of the same, a sequel that matches rather than surpasses the original; nothing too challenging, it’s a light and entertaining read, one that can raise a smile or even shed a tear from the most hardened reader. Tallerman’s strengths as a writer shine through, compensating for a plot that is comparatively simple for a fantasy novel, yet ultimately refreshing for it. Like James Bond, Easie Damasco will return; once again, I’ll be waiting.