Thursday, June 9, 2016

Old Habits by Christopher Taylor

Old Habits

Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform ()
ISBN-13: 978-1502483928
Kindle: NNN KB
Publisher: Kestrel Arts; First edition (July 11, 2011)
Complimentary review copy

Available on Amazon

A Thief's World

This is a fantasy novel where the setting is vaguely like Dungeons and Dragons - it's medieval, there is a Brotherhood of Thieves, as well as Paladins, Mages, Priests, and various nobility. It's not explained much, everything is seen through the eyes of Stoce, a thief in trouble. Stoce was commissioned by the head of the Brotherhood to steal some allegedly cursed gems, which he did, except that he lost them. Now he's on the run, trying to get the gems c\back so the Brotherhood will call off the assassins they sent after him.

An adventurous romp ensues, with impersonation, stowaways, coups, and evil mages. We don't really know much about Stoce at the start, and he turns out to be a really good thief with a lot of surprises up his sleeve. He also is a man on the cusp of change, and as the story progresses we see him reluctantly turning into someone who is more than just a thief.

This is the second book by Christopher Taylor that I've read, and like Life Unworthy, it gets off to a slow start. But I knew if I stuck with it the pace would pick up and it soon did. I liked many things about this book - the way the setting was laid out casually, with just enough information as it impinged on the story, the well-thought out escapades, the details of how a thief could navigate a castle, the "how does he get out of this one" surprises - the list goes on. But what I loved about the story is how authentic the character felt - Stoce is a thief who thinks like a thief. His life has made him who he is. And he accepts that, and all that life throws at him, in a matter of fact way. Like his name implies, Stoce is stoic, my favorite kind of character. And because he is so genuinely that person, I as the reader can experience the events that start to change him, with him. It's very much a character-centered adventure. I think it would make a great movie too.

Things I did not like about this book: I mentioned the slow start. I also think it could use a better cover. Also, it's TERRIBLE that there is no sequel. I hope the author revisits these characters some time in the future.

Christopher Taylor is also the author of the the WW II werewolf horror Life Unworthy and another fantasy adventure Snowberry's Veil (on my to-read list). So far I really like everything by him that I've read. He is a ridiculously talented writer who needs to write faster and publish more books.

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