I’ll tell you this much: I’m incredibly glad I picked this collection, The Legend of Eli Monpress, up. It is hefty, but it is FREAKING AWESOME. Here’s why.
Do you like fantasy adventures where people steal things in crazy, outlandish ways, and stay one smirking step ahead of the law’s dogged pursuit the entire time? No?
How about if there’s also MAGIC SPIRIT RINGS, GHOST WOLVES, EPIC FREAKING SWORDFIGHTS, NINJA DEMON GIRLS, and a WIZARD THIEF who can literally TALK DOORS INTO OPENING THEMSELVES?
You on board now?
Eli Monpress, the Wizard Thief in question (He’s a Wizard who thieves, not a Thief who steals wizards… but he does kind of steal a King, so maybe he’s a King Thief?), has one goal – to have a bounty on his head higher than anybody else in history. One Million Gold Standards. Which, to put it in perspective, is enough to bankrupt entire kingdoms if it ever got paid out.
After five minutes with Eli charming a door off its hinges, you’ll want to see him pull it off.
The world Rachel Aaron’s created is a blast. The main characters – Eli, Miranda, Nico, and Josef – you get a sense of who they are, and how much ass they kick, right away: Josef’s the badass fighter with the ultimate sword, Miranda is the Zenigata to Eli’s Lupin III (but with an arsenal of magic spirits at her disposal), and Nico, the aforementioned demon ninja girl, is the waifish muscle who’s struggling to keep her demonseed under control, and from eating her body away.
And as the world unfolds, so do their secrets. That’s a real treat; Rachel Aaron’s done a great job with them, and her villains, who are excellent counterpoints with gravitas and motivations. And each of them has a wonderfully unique approach to the problem of Eli Monpress, which is why I can confidently say RACHEL AARON’S VILLAINS BRING IT. YES. IT HAS BEEN BROUGHTEN.
Here’s the thing – if you read the first one and expect more fun hi-jinks, there will be a bit of a let-down by the third, because it’s more serious. There’s steaks. Tender, juicy steaks… oh, my bad. Stakes. THERE ARE STAKES. Lots of them. So, so many stakes. Huge ones. And as a result, Eli gets less attention, so Josef and Nico can get some solid development.
Which is great for Josef and Nico, but… it’s a tricky situation, since Eli’s the one you get pulled in by. Josef is interesting, and I was intrigued by Nico’s struggle, but none of them were as immediately captivating as Eli. I did get the impression that, not having read the last two books in the series, that books 4 and 5 are going to be about Eli fighting the call to be a hero, and giving in. Which could make them very interesting indeed, given the looming conflicts set in book 3.
So here’s the deal. Five stars for the first book (, 4.5 for the second, 4 for the third, so that averages out to 4.5 for the collection. Rachel Aaron is a tremendously skilled author, and you’ll love what she does the moment you step into her world.
If you need a copy, I got your back, holmes – click the affiliate link below and get you some Eli Monpress, pronto pronto! -B
^ Buy it here! or don’t. But I will judge you.