Review: Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Genre: fantasy
Series: Kin #1 (I assume, the title of the series is never explicity stated)
Published: April 2011
Pages: 414 pages
Rating: 3.5/5
I was pleasantly surprised to win Hulick's Among Thieves in the Good Reads First Reads giveaway. I usually win random books I've never heard of prior to winning them (though  the books are excellent, most of the time), but this was one I'd heard of before and was already in my t-b-r pile. I dove right in, and my big picture take on it as a whole: I enjoyed it and wouldn't be averse to continuing this series as it is published. 

I was told by a friend that Among Thieves reminded her of Scott Lynch and his truly spectacular The Lies of Locke Lamora and I can clearly see why. There are shades of Locke Lamora in Drothe, but only that, shades. I was reminded more of Joe Abercrombie's Logen Ninefingers from his bloody and funny The First Law trilogy, perhaps. Both Drothe and Locke are clever, manipulative thieves; Logen and he are murderous and sarcastic men used to command. Either way, Drothe is a singular character, one that you're never sure what he's going to do or how you will feel about it. He is clever, he is desperate and he is amusing. He's also a dangerous, murderous member of the underground. He's not snow-white as a protagonist and that makes him a more interesting and thus more fun to read about for 400 pages.

Hulick's writing is clever, descriptive and best of all, very engaging. It's delightfully free of unnecessary details or developments. The battle scenes (especially the fencing/swordfighting), as well as those between Drothe and his closest thing to a friend Bronze Degan, are what truly stands out about this novel.  They all felt real, and vivid, as does the city of Ildrecca. The book continues to improve on its faults as the novel progresses. Douglas Hulick has created a thriving world, a unique Empire, wityh an interesting theology, a different magic system, culture and a thriving underworld wheeling beneath it all. 

The book was exciting, interesting and thankfully, wasn't too predictable for fantasy fare. It doesn't get bogged down in decades-old fantasy cliches or characters. It's a darker fantasy, with an ambiguously disciplined main character. There's very little reliance on magic to solve all Drothe's problems, which creates a more resourceful and clever finale.  I was reluctant to finish as fast as I did. The magic system presented in the novel is fairly straightforward, but is unlike others in fantasy I've read and it was a pleasure to read a new idea on "glimmer", as it's called here.
Another high point for me was the culture of the thieves in this book. It felt real, and obviously different from the regular citizens' in the city. The authentic-seeming thieves cant that Hulick created has a lot to do with this. Instead of forcing a lot of random colloquialisms on his audience immediately, Hulick slowly employs more and more of the cant until the reader can read a sentence peppered with the slang with ease. 

I highly enjoyed this first novel in Hulick's work, and I look forward to picking up the rest of this series as he publishes them, and learns to polish his work as he goes. I can't say that it was the best fantasy novel I've read so far this year, but it was fun to read and easy to do so.


  1. I love this cover!

    Erika @

  2. Great Review. The cover of that book rocks!

  3. I agree! One of the coolest so far this year!


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