Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

a review by Nalini Haynes

Eli Monpress is a wizard, spirit thief and rogue, whose aim in life is to increase the bounty on his own head to one million. In the opening sequence Eli convinces a door to let the nails holding it to the door frame go, so the door can have a nice lie down without any pain, incidentally also letting Eli out of his cell. Eli travels with Josef, a swordsman who loves to fight but is bored without significant challenge, and Nico, a girl who houses a demonseed. Miranda is a wizard, or Spiritualist, who is hot on Eli’s heels, sent by the Spiritualist Court to stop Eli from sullying the reputation of wizardry in general.

The characters are fairly two dimensional, with a focus on a racy, fast moving plot, dynamic activity and light hearted banter. At first Eli is consistently gentle, using charm and persuasion to secure his ends. Later in the book Eli seems to act a little out of character when his ‘gossiping’ and manipulations result in hurt to some spirits, but by and large he acts within character. Miranda has a fiery temper but defines herself within her role as spiritist and by the laws she seeks to follow. Josef and Nico both have tales that unfold slightly during the course of this book, but there are more hints than revelation. I expect there will be much more to come in the remaining two books of this trilogy.

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron struck me as suitable for a comic book or graphic novel, with its outrageous characters including trees who bend over to aid Eli and an inland sea whose dynamic activities would suit both still graphics and the big screen. As such, I recommend this book if you would like to read books based on movies such as The Prince of Persia and The Fantastic Four. If this book was a drink it would be root beer (like Quark’s definition of the Federation as root beer in DS9).

This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.