Well, first review of the year, and this is a doozy! It’s kind of impossible to attempt to divide out all 6 books, so I’ll do this in a combined post. I did consume this series via audiobook, and the fantastic narrator (combined with the tasks of taking down Christmas, laundry, holiday chore catch up), made the time sail by, hence all 6 at once. 🙂
The basic plot is this: Two men are brought together by a wise scholar for an impossible heist. Royce Melborn, a misanthropic and highly skilled thief with a dark past, and Hadrian Blackwater, a charismatic mercenary, are reluctant (at best) partners in the theft of a sacred text from the tallest tower in the land, forced into a partnership to save the realm. Unbeknownst to them, there are political, religious, and interpersonal machinations are afoot for control of the empire. Hyjinx and adventure abound.
I don’t want to spoil anything with too many details, but over the course of many books, alliances will change, the world of Elves, Men, and Dwarves will clash, and through it all these two men become not only friends, but platonic soulmates. The pair become the favored spies of the kingdom, and their quests drive the plot through the series, all of which introduce new characters, locales, and cultures which enrich the world around them.
The author mentioned writing all 6 of these books at a crack to ensure continuity of the plot lines, payout of threads laid out in the first portion of the books, and at the behest of his wife, who adored the characters. I have to say that as a fan of a series in general, and this genre in particular, it worked well for me. I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two lead characters, and the supporting characters who do a lot of the heavy lifting in explaining the larger world. The women portrayed here are not just empty dresses, but rather characters with agency and points of view, which I appreciated. The struggle between politics, religion, and other races was also fairly taut, though I admittedly was a little over the intrigue by the last book. A tad too heavy on the mustache twirling for me, but honestly, the last book tied it all together and it worked.
If you are a Game of Thrones fan, this has similar DNA. There is magic, political intrigue, a devout cast of monks with fervent devotion from the people, betrayals, violence, sex, battles, impossible quests, heroic acts of sacrifice, and the list goes on. I think the relationship between Hadrian and Royce is what allows this all to hang together, and what enables a very long and intricate story. I would highly recommend the audiobook version if you have A LOT of time you can dedicate to listening (these are like GoT in that way too), because the narrator knows his craft, and does a lot to differentiate between the huge cast of characters. Part of me is sad for it to be over, largely because I already miss Royce & Hadrian’s friendship and rapport, which I think is a sign of time well spent with a pair of fictional fellows.