The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron
|The Legend of Eli Monpress: Part 1 by Rachel Aaron|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Eli is a thief, and he is determined to increase the bounty for his capture so he is worth more than any criminal alive. And as he is also a wizard, he thinks up some very unusual and amusing ways to achieve his goal.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 960||Date: February 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
The important thing, when reading or reviewing books, is to take them on their own terms, and not to try and make something of them that they do not claim to be. Do not seek laugh-out-loud humour from horror stories (except by accident). Do not expect picture books to discuss the ins and outs of astrophysics. And do not demand great depth from a series of fantasy novels where the hero's first action is to steal a king on the grounds that, to be perfectly honest, no one will actually miss him very much.
Thus, we have established our parameters before we even open the book, just from the blurb on the back cover. Eli is a criminal, but one who wishes to do no harm to the innocent. He has a wonderful, if somewhat eccentric sense of humour, and he is prepared to take any means at his disposal to attain his aims. And as a wizard in a fantasy world, that could mean he'll do just about anything.
Another thing to remember is that reading three novels from a series, all in one go, has a different effect on the reader than they will experience from just one. The reader is deeply immersed in the world for an extended period of time, getting to know the characters intimately and following their lives across several adventures. The world-building required for a successful series is a highly detailed exercise, with scope for travel, conflicts and setbacks on a grand scale, and the characters need complex and intriguing motives. All these things can be found in this book, which contains the first three of the Eli Monpress adventures, with the promise of more to come in future years,
Eli, the main character, is openly and unrepentantly a thief. He is also a wizard, but not in the way other people in his world understand the term. Generally speaking, a wizard or spiritualist is someone who follows a complex set of rules and restrictions, after years and years of rigorous training. Eli will have none of this. When a young female spiritualist asks him how he has such extraordinary power over inanimate objects, his answer is simple: he just asks them nicely. This attitude extends to humans too, unless they are greedy or cruel, and the book is filled with lightness, good humour and an almost playful atmosphere despite the many battles, dangers and reversals Eli and his friends endure.
The primary threads of the plot are fairly simple. Eli wants to have the greatest bounty in the world on his head: a million gold standards. Miranda the spiritualist and her faithful ghosthound have been sent by the Council to apprehend him. Josef, Eli's companion, wants to be the best swordsman in the world, and Nico, the demonseed who travels with them, wants to stay human. But once you add a spot of shady politics and the ups and downs of relationships, there are plenty of opportunities for thrills, action and fun.
It's funny, it's enjoyable and it reads easily. If that's what you feel like curling up with on a cold winter's night, then you'll love this book.
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