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4 out of 5 stars
Thief's Covenant (Widdershins Adventure)
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on March 10, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A very humorous, but still very serious tale of a young woman trying to pick herself back up from a devastating fall. Through it all, Widdershins (and I'd love to know where that name came from) faces her trials with an irrepressible humor that serves as a bulwark against her devastating losses.
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Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Good plot, but.... it was difficult to wade through soooooooooooooooo ( way to many) flashbacks. Some of the narrative was a bit difficult to follow, because not all characters were that 3 dimensional. I understand the reason for main character to have to go back in time, but it was a bit ridiculous trying to keep up. Also, the main character is supposed to be tough? But she is a bit too brash and most times whiny. Is she helpless or full of courage? Hard to say with this one. But, I have read much, much worse!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Previously Published at TheQwillery.com

Ari Marmell opens with a bang, introducing a mystery at the beginning of his newest fantasy series. The setting is the city of Davillon, which could be swapped out with any European city set around the 17th Century. Widdershins or Adrienne, depending on the time frame of the book, is either an orphan, noble-in-training or a thief. Shins, as she's known by the few friends she has, is a loner who attracts several different friends in her life, depending on the time frame of the story. She comes across as a rough and tough thief, but has a heart of gold. She's a fun character to spend time with, but I never felt connected to her. I also felt that most of the supporting characters were not fleshed out as well as they could have been. That being said, I still enjoyed my journey with Shins for pure entertainment value. I really enjoyed the fact that the thieves guild was a major part of the story as I always like seeing how an author creates a guild's leadership structure and headquarters. Plus, I always enjoy a good rogue's tale.

Olgun, an almost forgotten god, spends all his time focused on Shins, who is the last person to count herself as a believer. Olgun aids her by performing simple acts of 'magic' that end up being little more than giving her a little extra luck. There's no other real magic used in the story other than the magic from gods. One of the most interesting questions posed in the book is 'what happens to a god when there is no one left to believe in him any longer?' I wished the author would have spent a little more time exploring this idea, but there's a chance he does in the other books of the series.

Marmell did a great job of pacing his story with plenty of action with moments of humor. The only thing that worked against his pacing was the structure of the story. Marmell bounced back and forth between the past, further past and the present. It got a little excessive and I was unable to see any real need for it. It didn't add to the story or create any tension or add to the climax of the story. I would have enjoyed a clean chronological progression of the story much more, especially with all the identity changes the main character takes throughout the story.

Thief's Covenant is a fun quick read for anyone who enjoys spending some time with a bunch of rogues. Even with the few issues I had with the book, I would really enjoy reading the other books in the series. Marmell's ending was rewarding while still leaving plenty of open questions to be explored in future books. There are acts of violence and minor language, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to teens and adults. If you like a fast-pasted rogue's tale you'll enjoy Thief's Covenant.
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on November 19, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I rated this book a four because, although I am not a fan of books involving deities, the main character I very likable, the plot is good which kept me guessing all the way until the end. I recommend this book for older teens and up.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A fun fast-paced story on the lines of Scott Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamora and Rachel Aaron's Spirit Thief, though it lacks their madcap invention and infectious humor. Worth reading, though, as a quick escape, despite the intermittent annoyance of excessive and poorly-timed flashbacks that tend to derail the story flow. Kudos to Marmell for the Olgun/Widdershins character - I'm interested in seeing what she does next.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Really fun book to read with a very interesting main character. The book is fast-paced and keeps you turning the pages.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
3.5 stars. This review is written in my "snapshot" format.

The subject: a girl who's busy stealing riches, hiding from the law, evading thugs, and hanging out at the "Flippant Witch" tavern in her spare time. Widdershins lives on the edge, brave to the point of foolhardiness; she's crafty, but sometimes underestimates her adversaries and overestimates her own skills. Though she has her own sort of moral code most of the time — as in, stealing's fine, but not murder — when push comes to shove she can be pretty ruthless, and I couldn't get behind all of the choices she makes.

The setting: the city of Davillon, in a world with a bit of a 'historical urban fantasy' feel (but not set in our world's history, obviously).

Shutter speed: for a fantasy adventure, it's actually fairly slow-moving and dense. It's written in third-person omniscient, alternating between many characters, which works to draw the mystery out. There's no shortage of fights, but I thought the action scenes could have been quicker-paced.

What's in the background? An interesting religious system. The gods rely heavily on their followers' worship, and if the god has no more followers, he or she is basically "dead." It makes sense, then, that Olgun is "attached" to Adrienne, and I thought this was a neat way to make Adrienne a target. Olgun comes in very handy to help Adrienne out of some tight pinches (a little too handy, perhaps, at the end when it really counts) but since there are limits to his powers, she has to do a lot of work the rest of the time.

Zoom in on: the emotional connection. This is definitely a story that's more about the 'swashbuckling,' so to speak (no pirates, but there are plenty of brawls and lots of the grotesque factor). Numerous deaths happen, but I wasn't bawling my eyes out for any of them. While I understand the focal point is the adventure, I do wish there'd been more of an emotional connection. The angle that comes closest is probably Adrienne's relationship with Alexandre, since he's one of the few people she cares about.

I also would have welcomed more scenes involving Julien Bouniard (a member of the Guard). He's out of his depth dealing with Widdershins but doesn't realize it, and their interactions are actually pretty cute. In an odd kind of way they respect each other, but at the same time, Widdershins is constantly giving him the run-around. I wanted to see these two get together but it seems like the author is hinting at a different character for Adrienne's love interest (there isn't any romance in this book, but I suspect there may be in sequels).

Anything out of focus? The plot is complicated and difficult to follow; I found myself repeatedly flipping back to try to figure out what was going on. It was difficult to keep all of the characters and groups/organizations straight, and remember who knew what/had gone where/was working for whom/etc.

Ready? Say... "Thieving and murder and secrets, oh my!"

Click! 3.5 shooting stars. It took me several tries to get into this one, I think partly because the prose seemed overwritten, giving me more of an 'adult fantasy' vibe than YA (I believe Ari Marmell has previously written adult fantasy novels but this is his first YA book). As I continued to read, though, I got used to the writing style and it didn't bother me that much.

Note: There is some mature content (namely, scenes of violence) in this book.

Disclaimer: I received this for review from the publisher.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
So I bought the books on the recommendation of a friend. In theory, this would be OK Young-Adult/Tweener fair--several steps above Hunger Games or Twilight. In practice, the bouncing around in time is annoying beyond words.
As someone else suggested, go through the book, and make note of which chapters occur when so you can read the story in chronological order. I have no idea what the author was thinking by constantly bouncing around back and forth. The result is jarring, discordant, and after 102 pages (end of chapter 6) I was fed up and done. Not just with this book, but the author. These suckers are going straight to the donation box at the library, if not the recycle bin--I don't think I want to inflict these books on anyone, except maybe a creative writing class as an example of what NOT to do.
The character is OK, the conception of the deities is amusing, the dialog is fairly modern and fluffy for a world based on 1300s France.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon December 17, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The author has a university degree in creative writing. I want to know “who told him it's good writing technique to jump around in time?” Is that what they are teaching? I do recall one “expert” saying authors should create hooks (or cliffhangers) at the end of every chapter. But I disagree. But I expect some readers are not bothered by it. Jumping around in time is the easiest way to create cliffhangers. This book is so full of jumping around I was totally confused and frustrated. By page 76, I lost track of who was who and doing what. So I sat down, and flipped through the entire book writing down pages and times. Then I went through the book reading the chapters in chronological order. And that way it was good. I liked the ideas, the setting, the gods.

The story is about thieves in a city with aristocrats. Reminds me of Dickensian London. The main character is 17-year-old Widdershins, a female thief. She climbs buildings like Spiderman. She is nimble, can dodge most attacks, and is good at running and hiding. The god Olgun lives in her body. She and Olgun have conversations, and he helps her do dangerous things. For example, the staircase is falling down, Olgun makes it stable while she climbs it. The Finders Guild (of thieves) has a god that rules them and tells them what to do. The aristocrats pray to a different god and get benefits. The Guard (police) have their own god. Different bad guys want to kill Widdershins, a demon and some of her fellow thieves.

Widdershins never kills anyone, but she manipulates action to cause death to bad guys, like making one bad guy shoot at her but she ducks so a different bad guy gets hit.

Overall it was pretty good. I’d recommend it for teens. But don’t buy the audiobook if there ever is one. You won't be able to follow it due to jumping around. Even though I read it out of order, I still had to take copious notes to keep track of the many different characters. There were too many. Some characters could have been combined into one.

One part bothered me. Widdershins was living with a close friend for more than two years. A disaster happens and the police tell her friend they suspect Widdershins did it. The police want to search her room and her friend nods ok. Widdershins hears this and leaves. She has no contact with her friend for another two years. That was out of character. The least she could have done was wait until the police were gone and then tell him the truth. But she didn’t.

This is book 1 in the Widdershins Adventure Series. The ending is complete and satisfying with the bad guys taken care of, but a few good guys die. And Widdershins is ready for the next book. So far there are two sequels.

DATA:
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Story length: 268 pages. Swearing language: damn, hell, s***, but not often used. Sexual content: none. Violence: moderate fighting and injuries plus one bloody massacre. Setting: unknown time of swords, blunderbuss guns, and travel by horse, city of Davillon. Copyright: 2012. Genre: young adult adventure fantasy.
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on September 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Thief's Covenant sounded like a fun and exciting adventure novel, and for the most part it was. Unfortunately, I found myself extremely confused and not very into it in the beginning. It's not so much that the storyline was confusing, but the way it was written. The prologue starts out two years prior to the main story, and it was fantastic. It's strange and disturbing, but it definitely hooked me. But then it jumps to eight years prior, then to the present, and then back to six years ago, and so on. The story continues to flip-flop between now and then and it was quite jarring. It was difficult to settle into Widdershins' tale, since I was constantly being thrown into various times in her life. It wasn't until nearly the end when anything made much sense and I found myself really enjoying it.

Widdershins aka Madeliene aka Adrienne is an orphan turned thief turned aristocrat turned thief again, and Thief's Covenant follows her through all of these changes, although not in chronological order. Widdershins has had a tough life and now someone is out to kill her. Is it the Founder's Guild because she owes them some money? Is it the Guards after several failed arrests? Or is it someone else entirely? She spends a lot of time running and hiding and having her loved ones injured and she's sick of it. Widdershins is a tough chick and she's not going to cower in the shadows while this person is out to get her. I really liked Widdershins. She's kick ass without being over the top. She doesn't win every fight, but she's good and she knows it. She's also fiercely loyal to those she cares for, something I always admire in a heroine.

The main thing that kept me from enjoying Thief's Covenant more was the writing style and format. The writing is very wordy and there are some extremely awkwardly phrased sentences. I don't even know how many times I had to reread the same passage multiple times just to figure out what it said. As for the format, I ordinarily love alternating time periods, when they make sense. In this case it jumped all over the place, from two years ago, to six, to four, to eight, and back again. I would have liked the story much more if it had been told mostly in order, with maybe a few flashbacks. As it was, I found myself extremely confused as to how Widdershins had gotten herself into this mess and what the heck was going on. I also needed to know more about her connection to the god, Olgun, which didn't come until almost the end. However, as soon as we got that information I was very interested in the story and really liking it.

I absolutely loved the authors take on gods in Thief's Covenant. In this world there are over a hundred patron gods that watch over the aristocracy and are probably responsible for much of their wealth and good fortune. Olgun was a lost god, rediscovered and now Widdershins is his last follower, so they have a special bond. A lot is revealed closer to the end, so I can't say more without spoiling some of the plot twists. However, as much as I loved the gods, I didn't like the rest of the world building. It felt too much like France in the 1700s rather than a fantasy world. Sure a lot of fantasy is based on old Europe, but this was too similar. There wasn't much that made it stand out other than the people worshiping many different gods.

After a rough start, I ended up quite enjoying Thief's Covenant. I just wish it had been presented in a less confusing way. The time jumps were also combined with several character shifts-some of whom had multiple names or titles-which made it hard to settle into. Widdershins and Olgun made a wonderful team, and I enjoyed seeing them in action. The story is also quite violet and gory, even disturbing at times as demons play a role alongside the gods. Overall, I did like it and think it's worth a shot.
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