Friday, December 9, 2016

REVIEW | The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

The Palace Job By Patrick Weekes
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Rogues of the Republic #1 
Awards: None
Format: eBook (Amazon Kindle Owner's Lending Library)
Narrator: NA

WHY?:  This series came highly recommended by a number of other book bloggers whose opinion I trust.  And, you know, it's a FLIPPIN' HEIST NOVEL IN A FANTASY SETTING.  No way am I missing that!

SYNOPSIS: The book starts with Loch and her army buddy Kail breaking out of jail.  In fact it is a jail which should be impossible to escape from but Loch is clever and this initial jail break sets her up as a natural heist planner.  They break out of jail because Loch has a score to settle and she knows where to find an old artifact that formerly belonged to her family and which will fetch a LOT of money.  With the lure of this money she assembles a rag-tag and highly talented team to break into the very heart of the government of The Republic (aka the Palace), causing mayhem wherever they strike.

Is there anyone that doesn't enjoy a story about a good heist?  The motley crew of specialists who are all so different but who end up becoming, at least for a brief period, the best of friends.  The perfect and clever plan that unfolds like a complex pattern of Dominoes falling but which always goes wrong at some crucial moment and is saved by the brilliance of the crew.  The double-crosses and triple crosses.  It's a little weird to be so fascinated with crime but weird or not, I see the word heist in a book or movie blurb and I'm interested.

Part of it is the plan and watching it unfold - seeing the clever twists and how the gang achieves the impossible.  For me, it is equally about the gang itself - the quirky personalities and unconventional relationships that are formed.  The Palace Job takes that concept and ratchets it up several notches by including some unprecedented diversity: two army buddies, one the leader who has a personal score to settle (Loch) and the other who specializes in insulting people's mothers (Kail and I laughed at ALL his jokes), a death priestess and her sentient war hammer, an acrobat, a unicorn, a wizard, a safe-breaker and an exceedingly innocent young farm hand.  It's an interesting crew to say the least and most of the fun for me was getting to know all of these characters and watching who connects with whom.

As the gang is being brought together and the scene for the heist set, I have to admit I found the book a little slow (maybe the first quarter to third) but once the gang is all together and the heist begins in earnest, I defy anyone who loves a good heist not to love this book!  It provides everything one wants and expects; a plot with high stakes, impossible odds, an elaborate plan and more twists than you can shake a stick at.

The world the book is set in is also really fascinating and it feels like only the surface has been scratched in this first book of the series.  The Republic exists in a very tenuous but fractious state of peace with The Empire and this peace is threatened by complicated and corrupt political machinations in the government.  Loch and Kail have been the victims of this but unfortunately for the powers that be, Loch comes from a family with connections to old and ancient magic.  To complicate matters, a third enemy has wormed its way in to take advantage of unstable political situation.  There are well established societal structures in the book as well and the gang represents much of the diversity of the world.  Loch and Kail are of a race that is looked down upon, Ulelenia, the unicorn, and her old magic are looked on with suspicion, Icy, the contortionist, is from the Empire, and nobody likes to see a death priestess coming.  It's a fun world to explore, I so appreciate the diversity and I look forward to learning more about it all in future books!

This book kept me entertained and even with the large cast, I was eventually able to connect with all of them. There is a LOT going on and Weekes should be commended for pulling off a heist of his own and keeping it all organized and mapped out. I was frequently taken by surprise even while basking in the comforting glow of reliable tropes.  Weekes even threw in some humor to boot!

FINAL VERDICT: A fun, diverse and all around entertaining fantasy heist novel that lives up to all expectations.  4 out of 5 stars.
Other Opinions are Available: The Bibliosanctum - 1 | The Bibliosanctum - 2 | Fine Print

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