The Thief Who Spat in Luck's Good Eye (Amra Thetys) (Volume 2) Paperback – May 12, 2018
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A tale of meddling gods, determined sorcerer kings, and honorable thieves. Amra and Holgren embark on a new journey to find Thagoth, a city of myth, seeking a way to reclaim Holgren's soul, only to be embroiled in a conflict that has been brewing for millennia. With divine intervention and the fate of humanity swaying in the balance, the two must scheme to defeat the dreaded Shadow King, or suffer an eternity in death and servitude.
Kerf's crooked crutch, I can't get enough of Amra and Holgren! The Thief Who Spat In Luck's Good Eye is Michael McClung's ambitious sophomore installment in his Amra Thetys series, and what an adventure it is. Governed by non-stop action, terrifying monsters that lurk in the shadows, and two thieves that can't seem to elude losing consciousness, it is one hell of a ride through life and death. While it's heavily steeped in the fantastical, deep in its bones it's a story of the battle between good and evil, of conquering fear instead of allowing it to conquer you, and of the strength and determination that lend courage when facing adversity. The setup is quick and the adventure takes off at a breakneck pace, remaining that way throughout, making for a quick and entertaining read. With each book I read, I fall more in love with this world the author has created.
The scope of this story is much more grand than book one as it takes us on a journey through faraway places, the death lands, and a deserted and desiccated city which holds the secret of immortality. For such a relatively short book, we're transported to a variety of haunting and beautifully-crafted environments, rich in history and filled with all types of treasures and enemies. We traverse a labyrinthine pyramid, which is prison to a shell of a man, explore the broken remains of the dead city of Thagoth, and visit the mysterious Shadowfall, home to the Shadow King. Each place so distinctly different, yet all tie together to weave a tale so intricately designed and wonderfully executed.
And now for the best part - Amra and Holgren are quite honestly some of my favorite characters ever, and ones that perfectly break their stereotypical yokes. Amra, a thief not afraid to take a life, but with strong morals and a heart of gold, and Holgren, a mage who cares not for the art of magic, seeking to live free of the thing he seems to despise. One brash, the other reserved. One who thrives in shadow, the other the source of the brightest light. Both willing to sacrifice everything for the other and both steadfast in their desire to pave their way to a better life. The two tastefully balance each other, making for a fun dynamic that keeps you coming back for more. In addition to these two, this story introduces Tha-Agoth and Athagos, the Twin Gods with an awe-inspiring and tragic history, as well as Kerf and Isin, father and mother of the gods, who seem to have chosen our two thieves to be the next heroes of the age. Also, the tale and fate of the Sorcerer King serves as the perfect backdrop for this amazing adventure.
"'I never asked to be a hero.'
Which is why you are suited for it."
As I expected, I had a blast with this book and am really looking forward to diving into the duo's next blunderous misadventure in The Thief Who Knocked on Sorrow's Gate. I'm always in need of some snark and sharp wit delivered with deadpan execution - I mean, is there any other way to respond to a breathtaking display of ancient magic than by replying with “can I have my knife back now?” I think not. If you haven't picked up this series yes, I really suggest you give it a try. I highly recommend.
In THE THIEF WHO SPAT IN LUCK’S GOOD EYE, McClung changes the formula. TROUBLE’S BRAIDS was strictly limited to the city in which Amra lived, but we barely get a few pages into LUCK’S GOOD EYE before Amra and Holgren are off in search of the lost city of Thagoth on a quest for the secret to immortality. In the first book, McClung made Lucernis feel like a real city by introducing us to scores of interesting characters who made the city feel vibrant and alive. But here, the outer world seems largely unpopulated, and almost everyone we meet is either immortal, a monster or both.
The setting is just a symptom of the changed focus, as brief interludes are interspersed between scenes. In these interludes, we see the gods Kerf and Isin looking down on Amra and Holgren from the heavens. While Kerf’s confusion as to why Amra constantly uses “Kerf’s balls” as a swear term is amusing, for the most part, these scenes didn’t do much for me, and the idea that the gods were playing a hands-on role in Amra’s adventures didn’t bring any additional stakes or excitement to the proceedings.
Unfortunately, that was part of a trend. When Amra and Holgren eventually find the city of Thagoth, they soon find themselves in the midst of a battle between a powerful sorceror and two immortal gods, a battle that requires Amra and Holgren to understand a long history between the key players. This probably has more to do with my interests than McClung’s skill as a writer and storyteller, but I found myself largely disinterested. I was also uninterested (and, admittedly, a bit confused by) Amra’s new love interest, which seemed to come out of nowhere.
The story wasn’t helped by the discovery that one god’s blood could bring dead characters back to life, which ends up becoming something of a crutch throughout the story — so much so that one character is brought back to life twice.
On the plus side, Amra remains the same strong, principled protagonist as before, even as we get a chance to explore her dark past and why she continues to see herself as a questionable character. Her flashbacks were illuminating and lent depth to a character I already liked.
Ultimately TROUBLE’S BRAIDS was a very personal story, in which Amra investigates a friend’s murder and shows that she’s willing to go to incredible lengths to find the truth. In LUCK’S GOOD EYE, the stakes are raised, but the story feels far less personal, and I found myself disappointed as a result.
I was slightly disappointed because book 2 seemed so much larger scale, amped up stakes compared to book 1 and a lot of deus ex machina was there, but all with reason (I mean, they are dealing with literal gods so there's that). Kerf's ongoing concern about Amra's swearing by his testicles amused me greatly. It's just that there were a few bits that didn't quite ring solid for me.
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and I will definitely read the next Amra, but it wasn't quite the sequel I hoped it would be. Still a solid 4/5 for me though.
Top international reviews
In this second instalment, Amra is convinced by her mage partner to go searching for a long-lost city. There is supposedly a great secret hidden there, a secret that could help out her good friend, but what is the cost? Cue an adventure with gods and sorcerers waiting in the wings, and general chaos all about. Great.
I really liked the first book in this series, and this is also a good novel. I was perhaps not as blown away as I was last time, but I think that’s a reflection of me rather than the book. If you liked book one, you will like this. This is one action-packed little rocket of a book.
The characters are great. Amra is a roguish thief (as is common in fantasy these days) and she is genuinely likeable – much like Locke Lamora. Yes, she is a bit amoral, but aren’t we all? And besides: she doesn’t steal from anyone poorer than herself.
But it is the whole cast who are interesting. Holgren is a funny little chap; the duke is clinical and harsh; the gods are godlike but flawed with it; and the sorcerer is just a bit nasty. Then there are Kerf and Isis – a funny couple.
The other thing that’s really likeable is the fact that this is a wonderfully clean plot in a complex world. The writing doesn’t dwell on the ‘world-building’ complexity which is clearly there, and it makes for a swift and pleasurable read. Oh, and the writing is really good too. Tick.
What I wasn’t so keen on (but is mainly my personal taste) is the first person. I just don’t like it as a reader. I think it may be something to do with the fact that first-person has to be done REALLY well, otherwise there is a risk of it feeling like a journal with the associated break in tension. That could just be me over-thinking it though.
The second thing I was less keen in was the presence of gods full-stop. This is another personal taste thing, but the mingling of gods and “subjects” is always a hard one for me. I think this is probably because the gods usually come across as a sort of “super-human” rather than gods with the associated responsibility, but that may be me over-thinking it again! Don’t get me wrong, it was done pretty well here, but it stretched the boundaries a little too far.
And then there’s the book in the context of a series. Put simply, I have no idea where this is going. I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or not, because I’ll certainly read on, but I am bracing myself for a series of largely independent adventures. Who knows? But they will be entertaining adventures, that’s for sure.
So that’s it really. A great little book full of fantastic action and lots to love. Where Amra goes next, I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to following her. She does have a habit of getting into the most delightful scrapes!
Early on you get a sense that our two heroes have the most enormous plot armour and, with ancillary characters and villains being less well drawn than the first book, it all becomes an unenviable slog to the inevitable conclusion.
As with the first book there are dire warnings about Amras fate, but you know, plot armour sort of invalidates all that.
I’ve bought the series so will read more but hopefully things get more interesting.