The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes.
Published 2012 by Tyche Books. Cover by Lili Ibrahim.
(Please note due to lack of internet at home this review was produced via smartphone. Apologies for any rough edges)
Above the world, in the great flying city of Heaven’s Spire, the rulers of the Republic live in the opulence reserved for those that bear the heavy responsibilities of governing this beacon of freedom and justice. At least if you are to believe the propaganda spread far and wide by the ruling parties.
But if the good stuff is flying miles above the ground in a city reserved for the rich, then that’s where a thief must go for his payday.
It’s going to take careful planning, however, to get around magical wards, palace guards and into an uncrackable vault. It’ll take a team of specialists, crazy ones at that, to do the job but the take is worth it.
At least until unshakable justicars, unseen assassins and mind-controlled killers get on their trail…
Why did I pick up this book?
I’m sure it’s not inconceivable that someone did not immediately recognize the name of the author. If so allow me to briefly and with tremendous generalization sum up the achievements of Mr. Weekes as pertain to why I would want to read his novels:
Patrick Weekes has been a writer at BioWare since 2005 when he joined the (in)famous writing team in Alberta to work on the Mass Effect series. During this, he helped create such memorable characters as Tali, Mordin and Traynor. After this he also worked on the Dragon Age series and while perhaps (?) Not the sole person responsible for the creation of my fictional heart-ache, Solas, certainly the guy to whom Solas fan mail should be sent. >.>
Many, many tears splashed upon cheeto-encrusted keyboards can be laid at this unrepentant tale spinner’s feet. And good on him I say!
Patrick’s almost Whedonesque dialogue, quirky characters and strong fictional women is more than enough reason to put his efforts on my “straight to buy” list.
What was good about this title?
There are few things that tickle me as much as a well-crafted mix of two genres. In this case a heist story set in a fantasy world, complete with magic and fairy creatures.
The dialogue is fun and fast, the plot convoluted yet always firmly on track and the characters are memorable and solid.
I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the ensemble of Joss Whedon’s Firefly while I read which certainly didn’t detract from the experience. In fact, I would heartily recommend playing the Firefly original soundtrack in the background while reading this book.
I love a story with enough unpredictability to keep me guessing, and while I’m no Sherlock Holmes, able to deduce every plot from the opening paragraph, it is getting to be a rare thing, that a story surprises me. This one did – more than once!
Finally, the best spice to add to a fantasy novel for my consumption is snark. Lots and lots of snark, witty reparté and maybe a few zingers at the establishment and religion. The Palace Job ‘s got all that alright!
It can’t all be sunshine and daisies!?
If I have to put my finger on one thing that irked me (and I must for no one believes positive reviews these days amirite?), it would be the frequent use of untranslated made-up words. It’s something I often wince at when reading this genre and I appreciate not everyone feels the same on the issue. I do differentiate between heavily researched fantasy languages such as in Game of Thrones or BioWare’s elvish language in Dragon Age. And demanding such effort for every fantasy novel is a bit harsh (I suppose). It is also possible that Patrick has put in hours and hours of work crafting his own languages here and I am too simple-minded to grasp the intricacies of its syntax and rules of pronunciation. I do appreciate the depth a created language immediately lends to a created culture but I think that is a salt that should be used sparingly or risk dispelling the fragile bubble that is our suspension of disbelief.
Mind you everyone’s tolerance on the matter is different and I imagine if my last name was Gygax I could put up with quite a few more X, Y and Z’s in a text.
Still, this is at most a minor irritation and easily outweighed by the quality of the tale and the dialogue.
Why should you read this?
If you like capers or stories of golden-hearted crooks putting one over on the man. If you enjoy reimaginings of well-known fairy creatures. If you mean to misbehave and there ain’t a power in the ‘verse that’ll stop you, this is a book for you.
A fast-paced caper with colorful rogues, deadly assassins, corrupt officials, honorable thieves, A TALKING SWORD(!)* oh and did I mention that the main character is a badass, hard-hitting black woman! Seriously, why are you still reading this review? Go buy the book already!
Amazon: The Palace Job
*You need to replay the Baldur’s Gate games if that doesn’t make you squee.