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Good story, fast moving well plotted and a leading character you can t help but like even if you wouldn t want her to have access to your valuables.I got caught in this book fast and stayed that way The traditional characters, a party with fighters, wizards, and a thief Later they run on a different type of wizard sorcerers and an evil cleric, all are well done Good read Note the play on wordsaren t you impressed Oh you aren t, sigh, okay. On paper, this book sounds amazing Headstrong thief character who is really good at her job and is as useful as all the men on the team Lots of world building, especially in terms of magic and politics Two systems of magic at war with one another with modern magic unable to defend against ancient, forgotten magic A positive homosexual character who is treated like a normal character A fallen empire shrouded in mystery An old man that can turn into a waterfall In execution, however, this book was a really poorly paced mess Small snippets of cool things happen between large stretches of our heroes just sort of wandering from plot event to plot event while I fight the urge to fall asleep Which is a shame the good parts in this story are really good Livak s thievery is exceptionally engaging with all the needed steps to execute a difficult heist, complete with created personas to throw the guards off her tail, being by far the most exciting parts of the book And the other characters, from Shiv the warlock to Geris the scholar with big ideals, do develop relationships with each other that have heart to them.But at the same time, the boring parts are really boring Since the title, the cover, and the summary blurb all do nothing in explaining this book, I will do a quick plot summary Livak, a headstrong young thief straight from a DnD session you had in college, steals an ancient mug from a noble s home in an act of vengeance and then tries to sell it The buyers are none other than agents of the Arch Mage, and they essentially bribe her into helping them recover artifacts such as the one she stole, since clearly she has some skill if she stole that mug without getting her hands chopped off And so, our noble heroes travel the countryside, first in search of artifacts, and then in search for answers as to why a bunch of people with blond hair are attacking and killing people.Also some stuff with a guy named the Ice Man who wants to take over the world I think He tortures in very graphic detail and uses mind control on people so he must be bad.I think my main problem is, for all the little chapter starters that include text from pieces of literature in this world from plays to textbooks written by characters in this story I still had no real picture of what this world s belief system was about Or what the magic system really was about Or what things like Forest Folk were All the extra lip service towards fleshing out this worldreally didn t This book really doesn t even bother to explain really rudimentary things like how many gods the characters believe in, nor does it explain why an entire race of people is basically evil and disgusting, eww look they breed like rabbits gross, with their leader being a grand douche who likes performing mindrape and torture for the evils This book is nearly 500 pages Perhaps instead of giving me an excerpt of a play someone mentioned in passing during a conversation that has no bearing to the plot, could we get a pantheon of gods in there Or a basic understanding of what each element of magic can do instead of just introducing spells at random when convenient Also, the finale to this book is one of the most poorly written things I have ever read I can t even remember what happened beyond I think someone summoned a dragon to attack some ships because sometime after someone gets possessed, the writing gets really muddy and what should be an exciting conclusion to the book just confused and irritated me This book doesn t so much end as it just stops.This book also makes the weird choice in that the characters like to say shit a lot, which ends up making some of the tense moments unintentionally hilarious At one point in the book, a wizard is accused of brutally murdered and raping a friend of an important noble and you see the corpse of this noble earlier in very graphic detail, adding to the horror , and he s being beaten within an inch of his life In any other book, this would be a very harrowing scene, and you d feel for both parties In this book, the noble keeps calling the wizard shit head while the wizard is getting his ribs kicked in, turning this scene into something comical That s not even touching the fact that it s common slang to call sex playing stuff the chicken in this world In short, not something I would recommend What s good is good, and I actually really enjoyed these characters They re just woefully trapped in something that needed a few passes with the editors and maybe 100 less pages Additional Thoughts The book goes from first person with Livak to third person with another character between chapters a snooty wizard named Casuel who isn t very good at his job and it s extremely jarring It s also rather pointless, because Casuel, a character the book devotes entire chapters to, just exists to get beat up multiple times and then whine about how much his life sucks He has no bearing on the plot and why he gets over 100 pages of his wacky adventures is beyond me While it is cool that Shiv is gay, it s only really brought up in a major fashion two times once to dispel any potential for a relationship between him and Livak which is fine , and the other time to jokingly explain why Casuel doesn t like him which is really not fine At the beginning of the book, you learn Casuel got into a really big fight with Shiv and it has driven him into a giant grudge with this guy turns out the fight started when Shiv wrongly guessed his orientation and Casuel took it as a personal attack on his manhood Ho ho, how droll So I feel conflicted about awarding the book any points for this There is a scene where everyone gets diarrhea from moldy bread while they re traveling through an enchanted forest to meet a wizard Okay, writer, I laughed at this Fair enough Minor literary pet peeve While traveling and having to slog through rainy conditions, Livak is like bards never write about how the heroes have to deal with rust and rotten food and depression during their travels, it s all sparkly and nice in fairy tales in her narration Yes, Livak They leave that stuff out because bards know something about how to keep a story interesting Perhaps you can learn something from them. Fantasy Review BarnSometimes a generic fantasy yarn is just what you need I love books that try something new, push the limits of the genre, and make me think But sometimes a quick little romp is ok too, right Sure it is, and when in that mood there is nothing wrong with The Thief s Gamble It hits all the nice fantasy tropes, and doesn t see any reason to bend them, break them, or subvert them You got your talented thief with a good heart, benevolent wizards, a mysterious stranger in the bar, ancient lost magic along with the commonly used elemental magic, and a whole island of baddies to overcome.So the story starts The Archmage is searching for artifacts from the good old days to better understand lost magics To do so he has send several groups out to collect these Our heroine, Livak, is coerced into working with one of these groups as they need her thieving skills to get a piece that has been hard to get No hard feelings though, despite being coerced she is going to be paid well by mage Shiv and his band After some early shenanigans the plot gets going when it is discovered another group is after the same artifacts This race of yellow haired jerks is using unknown magic and horrible brutality to get their way I liked quite a bit about this book Livak is a genuinely interesting character, fairly resourceful within her means, very smart, sometimes witty Her chapters are written in the first person, whereas chapters dealing with other characters are not She is actually a pretty adult character as well, ok with her sexuality though it is never her defining feature She has a couple adult relationships with various degrees of attachments, like real people do Ryshad, the mysterious stranger, is quickly shown to be loyal to his employer and new friends While the various mages tend to run together in my mind, the Archmage and Shiv did stand out Shiv is a rare openly gay character in the fantasy genre, though it is only known through a few passing references.The plotting was a strong point as well fairly fast paced fairly focused There were only three or four threads to follow throughout the book, but they were all tied together by the end One small diversion to visit an old mage dragged on too long, but outside of that everything moved at a brisk pace While this was the first book of the series it could be read as a standalone it ends with good conclusions for surviving characters Oh, ya there is an actual sense of danger, not everyone will survive the journey While never the focus, the violence factor really ramped up in the last twenty percent of the book Only a few complaints here I was fine with the generic feel of it, but be aware that no new ground was broken here The history of the land was a bit jumbled, or at least it confused me Some things I thought were part of ancient history instead turned out to be only a few generations old Lastly the magic was a bit inconsistent, sometimes incredibly powerful, others fairly limited.3 and a half stars.PS Not related to the actual book, but whoever wrote the excerpt on the back of the paperback copy which also appears on Goodreads didn t even attempt to read the book He she actually mixed up some of Livak s plot line with a separate minor character And the teaser quote Never bet against a wizard, you might win, has zero to do with the story either Just bad packaging. The Thief s Gamble is the debut novel of British fantasy writer Juliet E McKenna and is the first installment in The Tales of Einarinn epic series Though it may seem as yet another clich d fantasy tale, which I keep on coming across lately, the story is infused with ironic and rather intriguing plot twists that mark the book as definitely above the mediocre level.The plot is focused on the adventures of the joke cracking, witty and thievish character of Livak, who casts the runes deviously, does not care for the consequences and therefore, manages to earn a decent livelihood But a shortage of gold forces her to rob a noble s house and from this point on, her life becomes a mishmash of magic, blood and love.Hadrumal, the island and sanctuary of elemental wizards, is a place dreaded and found intimidating by ordinary people However, the magi have stumbled across a jumble of ancient objects which give their owners the ability to dream of a mighty Empire lost in the carnage of chaos centuries ago Are these artefacts actually remains of the ancient knowledge, of the old magic, which kept the Empire whole and inalienable Hired by agents of the archwizard, with sudden and uncharacteristic reluctance but with prospects to show off her abilities, Livak is now entangled into an inevitable intercontinental war, as an unknown race which is strangely reminiscent of Vikings roams unchecked, killing and demolishing, with powers completely inexplicable.Juliet McKenna has succeeded in developing an immense world divided into numerous pieces by greedy fractions and frail alliances So far as her worldbuilding skills are concerned, she is one of the best in the genre, as she manages not only to enliven Einarinn with a jumble of authentic and original individuals, but also creates dynamical and intense relationships that contribute to a certain level of plausibility.In The Thief s Gamble we face an engrossing plot, which might suffer from tropes of the fantasy genre but is presented masterfully, and all the prerequisites that should turn The Tales of Einarinn series into a solid debut have been met For me, though, the main inadequacy of the book is the mixing of humorous scenes with unaccountable cruelty, like depictions of rapes and murders, which are definitely not suitable for all audiences Nevertheless, violence in literature is nowadays largely regarded as normal, so this minor flaw cannot outshine the indisputable assets of the novel.Fortunately, the protagonists are well developed and likeable only those few who join the group of companions later on lack decent background and motivation Livak as a main character is an enigmatic figure, impulsive and entertaining in her somewhat ruthless and practical logic In conclusion, The Thief s Gamble offers a multitude of amusing characters, original manifestations of magic, a mixture of politics and intrigue, as well as a vast world yet to be discovered thus, Juliet E McKenna has every right to be considered one of the best adventure fantasy writers out there. This was a long read for me for two reasons, it s a paper book and it had frequent slow parts I found the magic and the culture to be pretty interesting so I think it s viable for a reread I own book two so hopefully I ll start that soon.Oh and a minor note that I d forgotten to mention in my original write up for this review There is an LGBT character in this story I didn t know that going into it but I was pleasantly surprised. The Thief s Gamble is a great traditional fantasy, of the kind that made me fall in love with the genre when I was fourteen years old Which shouldn t have been a big surprise as the book was actually first published in 1999, which was in the same decade as when I first discovered fantasy It s epic and fun none of that modern gritty stuff here and very much a part of a series Of course modern fantasy often is part of a trilogy or series as well, but it seems as if these days of an effort is made to make books readable on their own, to have their story be somewhat self contained Not so The Thief s Gamble this is clearly the first book of a series, introducing us to our main characters, giving us an idea of the world we re moving into and setting up the overarching story arc, i.e who is are the baddie s and what s the problem that threatens the world as we know it And you know what I loved it Our main character Livak, the titular thief, is a wonderfully self reliant and strong female lead We meet her as she s hanging around, waiting for her companion to arrive and she learns of a nice business opportunity As said business opportunity also provides a way to get revenge on the man who tried to rape her years ago, Livak decides to take advantage and lands herself in far trouble than she expected But she never expects anyone but herself to get her out of this trouble, which I really liked Another factor I loved is that there is no sweeping romance in the book, she ll take her pleasure, but Livak doesn t need a man Ms McKenna doesn t need her protagonist to be a sexual or the tomboy type to be strong and independent in her own right and it was very good to discover another such character, as I think you can t have enough of those in print.Through Livak we meet most of our main characters those she doesn t introduce have their own viewpoint, specifically the Archmage and Casuel I liked how Ms McKenna played with the narrative voice for the different viewpoints, keeping all but Livak s in third person and hers in first This lends an immediacy and intimacy to the pages spent with Livak, that is less present in the other passages Unsurprisingly, this also led to Livak being my favourite character, closely followed by Ryshad, Shiv and Planir, the Archmage Another character whose development I m interested in following through the other books, that is if she returns, is Allin Her growth through this story was fun to watch, moving as she did from a shy, diffident and insecure young girl away from home for the first time to a young woman still unsure of her place in the world, but far assertive and present in the foreground than she had been I especially liked the scenes where she didn t let Casuel bully her any those had me cheering for her in my head.The plot was quite interesting even though at times it moved a bit slowly with a very creepy evil overlord and interesting societies, both the Elietimm and Tormalin The Elietimm were a mixture of berserker warrior and a strange docility They are a mysterious people and I look forward to finding out about them The same is true for the Tormalin They are equally mysterious, though somewhat less so, due to the presence of modern Tormalin descendants, such as Messire D Olbriot and Casuel And while they seem equally warlike to the Elietimm, there doesn t seem to be much docility in the Tormalin character Another thing I liked, were the opposing magic systems On the one hand there are the elemental magics, which seem completely aptitude based and on the other hand there aetheric magic, which seems accessible to all who know the spells and how to chant them I found it interesting that the elemental magics, which would logically be harder to attain as they need an innate affinity is the form that has survived, while the aetheric magics have been mostly lost in the time the book takes place The Thief s Gambit is a strong start to the Tales of Einarinn I originally picked this book up at Amanda s suggestion during our London book shopping spree and I m glad she put it on my pile, as I really loved this book At the same time, she s made it so I have at least twelve books to buy and read to catch up on Ms McKenna s backlist I don t whether to hug her or curse her for that But it is also a clear indication of how much I enjoyed The Thief s Gambit If you like your old school epic fantasy, Ms McKenna s first outing is definitely worth your time Me, I m looking forward to getting my hands on the other books of the Tales of Einarinn, as I really want to return to Livak s story and see where adventure will take her. Thief s Gamble is a traditional fantasy adventure with mages, fighters, and rogues The story is faced paced, and the characters are well developed, each bringing a unique personality to the party I love the dynamic between Livak and Shiv the thief and mage , and I love the way the protagonist s flaws continuously land her in trouble.As an aside, this is the first book in a series and the subsequent books alternate between Livak s POV and that of Ryshad, the warrior I like the story and world building in Ryshad s tales, but I never could connect with him the way I did with Livak, so I found the series as a whole a bit of a roller coaster, oscillating between books I really liked to books that were meh for me That said, I did read them all and enjoyed the series as a whole. &Free Pdf ☠ The Thief's Gamble ★ The Secrets Of The Shadow MenMagic It S For The Rich, The Powerfulthe Archmage And His Elite Wizards And Cloud MastersLivak Is Not Among Them She Haunts The Back Taverns Of The Realm, Careful To Appear Neither Rich Nor Poor, Neither Tall Nor Short Neither Man Nor Woman Obscurity Is Her Protection, Thievery Her Livelihood, And Gambling Her WeaknessAlas, Some Bets Are Hard To Resist Particularly When They Offer A Chance To Board A Ship For Hadrumal, The Fabled City Of The Archmage So Livak Follows A Minor Wizard, Shiv, In An Attempt To Turn A Rune Or Two, Never Dreaming That The Stolen Tankard She Wants To Sell Contains The Secrets Of An Ancient Magic Far Powerful, And Infinitely Darker, Than Any Mortal Mage S Spells A very okay beginning to what may turn out to be an interesting series In spite of Livak, a fierce, independent thief heroine and a cast of quirky wizard types, something didn t click with me.The fantasy world has a well developed history, but the author s writing is so bogged down by her insistence on telling us all about it in DETAIL when what we really need is character development As it is, the relationships between the characters seem to come out of nowhere.I like the premise a LOT, and the author manages to balance grit with humor, but the overall effect is a bit lukewarm. It s been a long time since I ve enjoyed an epic fantasy as much as this Complex world, nicely drawn characters, exciting plot It was her first published novel, and I m along for the whole series now.