Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer.
Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help.
Thoughts: The story starts, essentially, with Easie Damasco getting caught with his hand in the wrong pocket and thus conscripted against his will, sent to the front lines of the coming war. Not being the kind of person to take this lying down, Easie uses his charm and guile to escape, stealing one of the army’s captured giants along the way, launching him forward into a large adventure that he can’t just walk away from.
With a concept like that, how can you go wrong?
Well, for starters, you could make the book into something that’s all show and little substance, relying more on character stereotypes than actual characters to help move the story along when Easie and Saltlick tire of running (which they do a lot of through the book, as they end up chased from point A to point B, then to point C, then just when you think they might get a break, bam, onward to point D). The book-long chase scene feels less like quick action and tension and more like a reason to get to the next plot point. Can’t figure out a reason why the characters would be in a certain location? Boy, that warlord and his armies caught up awfully quick, didn’t they? Time to run again!
There isn’t much world-building done through the course of the book. Hints get dropped at a wider world with more diversity than we see directly on the pages, but little of it is actually demonstrated, making the book have a very narrow and confined feel. Easie and Saltlick are, for the most part, the only characters who get any real development, which makes a degree of sense since they do feature on almost every single page of the book, but other characters who are often with them and have their own parts to play often thus feel shallow and unrealistic. And otherwise ended up playing to stereotypes. I thought I was going to like Marina Estrada a couple of times, until it was revealed that many of her actions seem influenced by past romance and that she tends to break down in womanly sobs whenever she’s frustrated at things not going her way. Not exactly a flattering depiction of the only woman in the book. True, she is a fairly tough individual and she often has to go out of her way to keep Easie in line (and she does it well), but a lot of her strength was countered, I found, by the crying scene.
The dialogue, at least, shines in this book. Easie’s banter and devil-may-care attitude is fun to read, especially when one enjoys reading about rogues and thieves who are only living for themselves, looking out for number one. Easie himself was a real treat to experience the viewpoint of, even through the times when I wanted to smack him for being so self-absorbed. It was in-character, a character that unfolded swiftly from the beginning, and stayed true to itself as the book went on. Even when he put aside his own self-interests, he didn’t become a different person to do so.
The book wasn’t so devoid of substance that I don’t want to continue the series, but it does make me approach future books with some trepidation. I’m hoping that some of the book’s weaknesses will be lessened as the story goes on, with more time for development of the world and of characters who aren’t Easie. There’s a lot of potential, I think, for this series to become something awesome, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll end up that way in the end.