Book Review: Magic of Thieves by C. Greenwood

Cover Magic of Thieves
Cover Magic of Thieves

Book: Magic of Thieves

Series: Legends of Dimmingwood, Book 1

Author: C. Greenwood

Genres: Fantasy


Synopsis (from Amazon book page):

“In a province where magic is forbidden and its possessors are murdered by the cruel Praetor, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival. Concealment. In the shadow of Dimmingwood, she finds temporary protection with a band of forest brigands led by the infamous outlaw Rideon the Red Hand.

But as Ilan matures, learns the skills of survival, and struggles to master the inherent magic of her dying race, danger is always close behind. When old enemies reappear and new friendships lead to betrayal, will her discovery of an enchanted bow prove to be Ilan’s final salvation or her ultimate downfall?”

Notes of Interest:

Usually when I can find nothing to say about a book, it means it was a perfect match for me — the right book at the right time. It means it met or exceeded my expectations. It means I can think of nothing to criticize about it. I find myself in this situation with Magic of Thieves, but for the sake of offering up something for my fellow readers and the author, I will try to find some words.

I bought this book when I was looking for fantasy literature about elves. The cover art looked like an elf, so it was the cover that caught my interest first. Oddly, not once in the text do I remember seeing the word “elf”. There are references to Ilan’s mysterious heritage, but I don’t recall anything that specifies this main character is, indeed, an elf. Whether or not this character is elven doesn’t really matter in this case because the type of story and types of characters I wanted to read about were a good fit regardless. So, know that elves as a specific race or culture are not discussed, but fans of elves in literature will notice parallels concerning the magical race being eradicated.

This is also a good choice if you’re looking for a story about fantasy rogues.

What could have made it better for me:

I would have liked a little more expansion on who the magic people are. Are they elves? Or are they a race of magical humans? About all I gleaned from them, other than their psychic abilities, was that they have white hair. So, while I didn’t have any technical problems that broke immersion or character or plot issues, a part of me wishes there had been more information on this mysterious culture.

What I liked about it:

Looking back over my notes during the read, the thing that I seem to have commented to myself on the most is the language. It’s not often that a book’s language impresses me. “My body was numb, disconnected from my mind, as I lay listening to my heartbeat and feeling drops of sweat form, despite the cold, and trickle down my ribs.” It’s not exactly poetic, but it is very sensory. I can almost feel her anxiety myself.

The characters in this book were interesting without having over-the-top personalities. They felt genuine … even the bad guys. I love to see bad guys with dimension, and we definitely see that here with the way the thieves balance their humane and criminal sides. The good characters are as gray as the bad, so I also appreciated seeing heroes who felt more human than divine. Ilan, the main character, was well-designed as a female protagonist. She was strong without being bitchy; she was not a male character whose only feminine trait was a female name, like a lot of “strong” female characters tend to be. She had good agency, especially toward the end. Her coming-of-age story was dynamic enough to show that she is learning and growing with her experiences.

The plot is easy to follow. It was predictable in terms of genre expectations, but not boring. The characters kept it interesting, and there was a good amount of action between the interaction.

Recommendation:

I enjoyed this book enough that I will consider getting the next one in the series. The characters were well-developed. I’m curious to know more about these people that Ilan is from. I’m curious to see what she does next … and to see if any of the previous characters reappear to continue their journey together, or end up in opposition. I love fantasy tales about rogues, so this is right up my alley. It’s a bit like a Robin Hood tale, but with a darker atmosphere than “merry men” might offer.

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