Language is a damn funny thing. Not only the language we speak, but the way language shapes how we perceive the world, and also how we all end up with linguistic tics born of our job, our position in life, our hobbies, and other factors we probably aren’t even aware of.
Not sure how this relates to a novel about thieves in a magical world? Step inside, won’t you — we have much to talk about.
Any Mumbler can sell you a rumor for the right price; but if you want to know the why behind the rumor, when and where things are coming together, and how it got started in the first place, you go to a Nose. – Kindle location 627
Case in point.
Drothe, the thief (or rather, the Nose), is the trusted snoop for one of the city’s Upright Men (to you or I, these would be the heads of thieves’ guilds for lack of a better term). At least, until he finds himself embroiled in a plot that will cost him a lot more than his life, though that’s on the line, too; that, and the fate of the Empire come to rest in Drothe’s own hands.
This is not what he wanted out of life.
I couldn’t figure exactly what I had done to bring this latest attempt down on me, but that didn’t matter. I’ve found you don’t have to know why someone is trying to kill you; you just have to know that they are. — Kindle location 1736
This tale is a little bit slow to get going but that’s actually a good thing because it allows the reader to grow accustomed to the use of cant (no, not can’t, cant — and not Kant, either). Ears, Eyes, Noses, Arms, Cutters, Blades, Upright Men, degans, Lights and more inhabit the pages of the book, and the streets of the city. And by the time you realize you’ve accepted Drothe’s cant the same way you accept air into your lungs, well. You’re also caught up in his story and his struggle — and wondering just how much more of a beating one man can take.
Probably just a little bit more than that.
The world built around Drothe is complex and the city (if not the empire, but we only really see the city) has a life of its own. Drothe’s sister exemplifies how the Upper Half live, when she’s not trying to kill her brother, of course, and we even get a glimpse of the place that made Drothe who he is.
As the title implies, there is honor among thieves. Or, at least there is one honorable man, who finds out too late that he’s not only in over his head, but that his being a Nose has drawn him into far too much trouble. Magic and mystery abound, here, though this isn’t a whodunnit in the traditional sense.
If you like your fantasy urban (but not modern), your worlds built, your characters strong, and a good look at how much of reality is shaped by how we speak about it, this book is for you. Also for those who like their fantasy dirty but not grimdark and their heroes morally compromised from the get-go.
But I’ll let Drothe sum up the rest in his own inimitable style:
…ultimately, because I was a Nose, I wanted to know what the hell was going on, who was trying to play me, and make them pay. – Kindle Location 2540