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Book Reviews

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Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Familiar fantastical enemies and unfamiliar dangers force thief and knight together on an epic journey filled with bloody goblin wars, deer-sized battle ravens, and assassins who kill with deadly tattoos.

Christopher Buehlman's The Blacktongue Thief is a gripping and immersive dark fantasy novel that stands its own alongside other masterworks like The Lord of the Rings and The Name of the Wind. Readers are taken on a wild journey through a dark and dangerous world replete with a unique magic system, monsters, and morally ambiguous, yet relatable characters.

"Luck is very real, and anyone who tells you differently wants all the credit for his own success. Luck is a river. I can actually feel when I'm in it and when I'm out of it too."

Set in a realm teetering on the edge of chaos post violent goblin war, we are introduced to Kinch Na Shannack, a cunning and quick-witted rogue with a secret weapon - the ability to speak the language of the Blacktongue, a mysterious and forbidden form of magic.

The story kicks off when Kinch is hired by the enigmatic lady knight, Galva, to accompany her on a treacherous quest to to recover a powerful magical artifact. This quest sets in motion a series of events that will challenge Kinch's skills, loyalties, and the very nature of the world he inhabits. As they venture deeper into a world fraught with danger and intrigue, readers will find themselves immersed in a richly detailed and intricately crafted fantasy universe truly unlike any other.

Buehlman's world-building skills shine through as he paints a vivid and gritty picture of a land in turmoil, where multiple factions vie for power, and the line between hero and villain is often blurred. The setting is reminiscent of classic sword and sorcery tales, but with a fresh and darkly imaginative twist. Buehlman's prose is both evocative and accessibly humorous, making it easy for readers to lose themselves in the story's rich tapestry.

"I was so scared, I half wanted to piss myself, but the difference between the strong and the weak isn't that the strong don't piss themselves. It's that they hitch their pissy pants up after and go through with it."

Characters in "The Blacktongue Thief" steal the spotlight. Kinch, with his razor-sharp tongue and snarky humor, is a charming rogue you'll root for despite his shady dealings. Galva adds intrigue with her enigmatic motives, and their evolving dynamic keeps you hooked. The supporting cast is equally as well-crafted and memorable. Personally, I felt that Blacktongue particularly hosts some of the most captivating female characters I've ever come across in a book.

While, for me, this book is easily a 10/10 and now sits among my favorite fantasy novels of all time, I have also found that, to some, its plot pacing can feel a bit jilted and its grim humor and backdrop isn't everyone's cup of tea.

Altogether though, The Blacktongue Thief is an incredible dark fantasy read that offers a gripping and immersive reading experience. Buehlman's blend of detailed world-building, humor, and intensive character study also give readers a fresh and gritty twist on the fantasy genre that is equally genius and balanced. If you were like me and worried there was no good fantasy to be found in this modern era, pick up a copy of Blacktongue Thief as soon as possible.

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