After Half Bad, Sally Green had the hearts of YA readers bowing down to her books. Her latest release, The Smoke Thieves received mixed reviews. It is a medieval high fantasy which the readers of R.R.Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, or Game of Thrones series will really like. Filled with intriguing characters, brilliantly created fantasy settings and some very quotable dialogues, this book is a handful.
Writing another series after Half Bad, Sally Green said in an interview that it is the characters that set her stories going. Smoke Thieves, in particular, introduces us to the four leads – Catherine – the obedient princess, March – a vengeful nobody, Edyon – the seeker of cheap thrills, Tash – the trouble seeker and then the anti-hero or the traitor. Each from a different walk of life and in a different kingdom, the story is told from their perspectives. Their destinies (as it happens in every book with many protagonists) are linked together. The kingdoms of Calidor, Pitoria, and Brigant are fated to go on a war the like of which has never been fought before. It starts with Brigant and Calidor going to war first.
“Good morning, Your Highness. Isn’t it a beautiful day?”
“For you, I’m sure.”
The book is filled with new characters making an entrance every once in a while, – there are knights, servants, and acquaintances. While this wide array of characters might seem confusing, it greatly adds to the charm of the book, giving the characters interesting background stories. You will realize how they are inclined to collide at some point and the suspense of how it will happen keeps you going. Sally’s love of characters shows in the characters she has written – they are characters you will fall in love with and who stay with you.
A little goes wrong with the world that Green has tried to build with this book. Smoke Thieves comes with a map to the world to give it a realistic feel but that’s all. There is nothing beyond the map to make the world of Brigand, the wild north and Pitoria seem realistic. The key is to make the reader feel it’s a real, tangible world and Smoke Thieves lacks just there. There are some angels new to the book, like the world having demons who emit demon smoke. The political scenario, the tension of war and the plotting scenes are all very well written but the world of Smoke Thieves does fall apart at some points.
Another common angle that this book shares with Game of Thrones is the use of profane language. Smoke Thieves is full of abuses, and the author has tried to adapt to a style that isn’t what her readers are used to. If you like that, you will enjoy most of the book. It’s thoroughly engaging and you wouldn’t feel like letting go once you start. The only places the book hits major roadblocks are when the constant change of narrative gets to the reader. Five different narratives sometimes end up leaving you confused.
Overall, Sally Green’s The Smoke Thieves is a powerful book that’s just first in the trilogy so it would be fair to say don’t give up on it just yet. It might get a lot better in the next book, that’s set to release next year. You can pick this book if you love YA books with fictional worlds, interesting characters and a medieval setting, Smoke Thieves is fit to be your next read.
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