You may remember me wailing with joy, two blogs ago, about winning the Eli Monpress Omnibus, by Rachel Aaron. I have completed the behemoth, and am here to wail with joy about having done so. I am also here to shove you into a bookstore to follow my footsteps.
The Omnibus consists of three books, The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, and The Spirit Eater. While I would recommend the Legend of Eli Monpress Omnibus, (partly for its price and mostly for its spectacular cover art– go check it out!), I will focus on Spirit Thief for now.
There are tons of reasons to read Spirit Thief, but I fear many of them would be spoilers. So if you want to know why you should read it, to the last detail, I’m afraid you’ll just have to read it. But in case you want something of a review before you run off and pick up a copy, here are three pre-packaged reasons. I kept them as un-spoiling as possible.
1) Eli Monpress, the wizard thief at the heart of the tale. As I suspected, ‘wizard thief’ refers to the fact that he is both a wizard and a thief, not to his being some sort of wizard-stealing thief. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried his hand at wizard-napping– Spirit Thief begins with a king-napping, after all. Calling Eli Monpress “ambitious” would be an understatement, people. This fellow is in it for the glory, fame, fans, but most of all, he’s in it to raise the price on his head. What thief wouldn’t love a high bounty? …Besides the sensible ones.
2) There’s magic in the world! Well, such would be assumed in a fantasy novel, but I found this magic system fascinating and novel (pun not fully intended). This is a world where everything has a spirit (hence the proliferation of ‘spirit’ in the various titles), and if you’re a wizard, you can wake them up and have a chat. If you can catch them in the right mood, they might do you all kinds of favors. Some wizards are better at this than others, and for some reason, Eli is the best of them all– Unless, of course, the spirits he speaks to were frightened into submission by a spirit Enslaver…
3) Here. If you doubt me, read the first two chapters for yourself. Go on, I dare you. If you don’t have time to read it all, read the first chapter. It’s short, and it’ll intrigue you. If you don’t have time to read the first chapter, read the first section. It’ll intrigue you. If you don’t even have time for that, read the first few paragraphs right here:
In the prison under the castle Allaze, in the dark, moldy cells where the greatest criminals in Mellinor spent the remainder of their lives counting rocks to stave off madness, Eli Monpress was trying to wake up a door.
It was a heavy oak door with an iron frame, created centuries ago by an overzealous carpenter to have, perhaps, more corners than it should. The edges were carefully fitted to lie flush against the stained, stone walls, and the heavy boards were nailed together so tightly that not even the flickering torch light could wedge between them. In all, the effect was so overdone, the construction so inhumanly strong, that the whole black affair had transcended simple confinement and become a monument to the absolute hopelessness of the prisoner’s situation. Eli decided to focus on the wood; the iron would have taken forever.
He ran his hands over it, long fingers gently tapping in a way living trees find desperately annoying, but dead wood finds soothing, like a scratch behind the ears. At last, the boards gave a little shudder and said, in a dusty, splintery voice, “What do you want?”
“My dear friend,” Eli said, never letting up on his tapping, “the real question here is, what do you want?”