Giant Thief by David Tallerman
Review by Ryan Lawler
Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer.
Even the wicked canít rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but heís going to need help.
Thieves are in, thieves are cool, thieves are the new orphan boy whose destiny is much greater than his tattered clothes. And so its time for my next fantasy novel, starring another dashing rogue who is out and about stealing stuff and causing havoc. Easie Damasco - with a name like that you just know he is trouble. Giant Thief by David Tallerman is one of the better examples in the thieving genre, and while it wasn't always to my taste, the quality of writing in this book easily pulled me through to the end and has me wanting to read more about this scoundrel.
Giant Thief begins with a bang, or should I say a sizeable noose around our main character's neck, and it sets the tone for the entire book which sees Damasco constantly scrambling to save his own life. His homeland is at war, struggling to survive the onslaught of a warlord who has somehow convinced a tribe of giants to fight for his cause. So Damasco does the only logical thing, he steals one of the giants and runs. This is a story that is very much about running, almost three quarters of the book has Damasco and his companions on the run from something or someone, and then during the breaks we are given a bit of back story and a chance to progress the plot. The plot is not overly large, nor is it very complicated, it just serves as a framework for all the action to take place within. The problem is that I found the back story, the provincial war and all that shady politics, far more interesting than the monotony of Damasco on the run. I would have loved to see Damasco engage more with these background elements, instead of running from them every single time, and in the end I felt like I was missing out on a much greater story that was going on outside of the characters.
What I do love is the world, and the characters that populate it. Tallerman has taken fairly traditional second world fantasy setting, but given it a feudal Spanish twist. You can see it in the names, the places, the country side, the way everyone speaks, the way the wars and politics are conducted. The world has that highly capable yet very laid back feel to it and it just works. Tallerman also weaves the giants seamlessly into the landscape, and aside from the very start when they are first introduced, the giants just feel like they have always been there and will always be there. We only get to see a very small portion of what I imagine is a very large world, so I am very interested to see where Tallerman goes to next and what mysteries we can expect to find.
The characters too are very well formed, all individually crafted with their own motivations and their own complex reasoning. The support cast of Saltlick the giant and Estrada the foolishly brave mayor fit in nicely with Easie Damasco to create their own faux family where Estrada and Damasco play mother and father to the childlike Saltlick. Damasco plays the role of the rogue / thief, but in my opinion he is by no means loveable. He has been carefully constructed, he plays the role of the rogue very well, but I just don't like him. He is a selfish brat, a conniving manipulator, and he has no intention of ever changing. He gets the opportunity for redemption towards the end, but by that stage I just don't care whether or not he redeems himself. He is a turd of a human being. It's great to have a character like this, but when the whole book is told in first person from his perspective, you don't like the character, and the character refuses to engage with the interesting story going on around him, it can make it hard to read the book at times.
When the going got tough for me, what dragged me through was the high quality of writing. This book just reads effortlessly, the prose simple enough to make the pace electric, but complex enough to convey all the stylings and emotions required to fully flesh out the story. The Spanish stylings are skilfully incorporated so that you are not pulled out of the story trying to figure out what it all means, and the overall style allows you to become immediately immersed in this world of war, politics, and horseback / giantback chases. My only gripe is that I think Tallerman went a little overboard with the quantity of action, and I would like to see more engagement with the plot in future instalments.
Giant Thief is a very adept debut from an author who has a lot of talent. While it would have been nice to get a bit more engagement with the plot, my dislike of Damasco was not the fault of the author, just personal taste. There is a lot to like about this book, and if you can become enamoured by this charming thief then I don't think you will have any difficulty reading the book.
What did you think about Giant Thief?
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