Customer Reviews: Thief's Covenant: A Widdershins Adventure
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on February 25, 2012
I'm a Megan Whalen Turner fan, so maybe I just like stories about clever thieves, but Thief's Covenant is a good book in its own right. I will caution you that the author makes extensive use of flashbacks, which adds to the suspense but might irritate some readers a tad. The other caution I have is that the book has a rather high level of violence and gore. It's definitely meant for teens (and adults)!

On page 1 of the Prologue we discover a young woman named Adrienne Sati clinging to the rafters high above a room filled with people being slaughtered. Tears run down her face, but she keeps silent even after the murderers depart and the city guardsmen arrive. It seems they don't see her up there in the shadows. And Adrienne is about to reinvent herself once more, this time as a thief named Widdershins.

The Prologue takes place "Two years ago" and Chapter One starts off "Eight years ago." How did Adrienne come to be in that room, and how did she get out? More important, how did she wind up carrying her own pocket god named Olgun around the city?

Now Widdershins is trying to carry out a bit of honest theft undisturbed, but the city thieves' guild is after her, and so is the city guard, along with a couple of far more ominous villains. Somebody isn't happy that Adrienne escaped the carnage that terrible day. Couple all of this with a visit to the city from the high priest of the land's number one religion, and Widdershins is up to her neck in trouble.

The book is also pretty darn funny. And even though you'll find some recognizable fantasy tropes, Marmell's world and his tapestry of plot threads are plenty intriguing, especially thanks to his creative use of gods. Widdershins herself has dash worthy of the Scarlet Pimpernel and a bit of Gen's whininess and self-doubt (from Turner's Queen's Thief books). We even get a few city guardsmen who may remind you of characters from Pierce or Pratchett. I'm pretty sure you'll be cheering for Widdershins and her buddies every step of the way. I know I'm looking forward very much to Book 2.
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on June 29, 2012
This wonderful YA fantasy is not just for teens--I'm in my mid-50's, and I loved it. The world building was detailed and excellent, the story was engaging and fast-paced, and the characters were well-drawn.

Widdershins, the main character, was strong, smart, sassy, and snarky, and had me laughing out-loud at many of her irreverent quips. I totally disagree with reviewers who said they didn't feel connected to the characters or care what happed to them. All the characters felt real and fully-fleshed to me. And I laughed at Widdershins antics and mourned with her when she lost loved ones.

Although the author used flashbacks freely to gradually reveal Widdershins' past, it was never confusing to me, as the breaks were clearly indicated. One of my pet peeves with ebooks is that often a scene change, indicated in the print book with a break in the flow of the text, will lack that same text break in the ebook copy, causing confusion as the scene changes from one paragraph to the next. This ebook edition did an excellent job of clearly signaling scene changes.

Also, I think it's worth noting that the spelling, grammar, and editing were excellent. Another of my pet peeves with ebooks is the disproportionate number of typos, and spelling and grammatical errors that seem to appear in ebooks, regardless of whether the book is from a large publishing house or an independent publisher. I'm happy to report that this kindle edition suffered no such problems.

I hope the author plans to make this a lengthy series, as I can hardly wait to read more of Widdershins' adventures. If you love a good adventure, I highly recommend you pick up this book; you won't regret it.
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on February 26, 2012
But now, in the midst of Davillon's political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she's built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her--but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don't finish the job first.

I really like Ari Marmell's books. The Conqueror's Shadow, The Warlord's Legacy, and Goblin Corps are all fun exciting books that turn the concept of good and evil on it's head and fill the world with interesting and humorous characters.

In Thief's Covenant, Marmell departs from his usual upside down view of good and evil (to a degree, the protagonist is still a thief) and instead enters a completely new arena for his books, the world of Widdershins.

Widdershins is a wonderful protagonist, she's fun, exciting, and filled with enough sarcasm to make any of her retorts quick witted and wonderful to read. But like Marmell's other books it's not just Windershins's charming personality that makes her fun to read, it's her hilarious, snarky, and sensitive sidekick Olgun that make this book such a fun read. Oh also Olgun is a god, so that certainly makes things interesting.

All in all I started this book because I liked Ari Marmell's other books. I kept reading the book into the night to find out more about Windershins and how she became attached to a god. And I loved the book because of the fast paced action, fantastic interactions between Windershins and Olgun, and fun style of writing. Overall a great book that I'd easily recommend.

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on February 16, 2012
(Originally rated on Goodreads)

What a stunning premise for this new YA fantasy novel. I was reminded of elements found in Bunce's Thief Errant series, but with more of the ferocity of the rogue assassins in the game of Assassin's Creed. At first, the flashbacks (well labeled) confused me and the pacing seemed off. But as I read further I saw how it revealed important details as to how our heroine has become the thief she now is. It also helped build the fantasy world around our characters. These moments where we see how she was orphaned, went from rags-to-riches, gained a god's favor, and had witnessed a massacre. This last moment later rears its ugly head again in the mystery parts. I enjoyed meeting Widdershins (with her many aliases) and seeing her walk a thin grey line between honor and thievery. We feel for her as she pursues risks headfirst and loses friends (which was heartbreaking). All the while trying to clear her name of murder and find out the hidden truths. So as for upcoming sequels, I can't wait to see where she sneaks off to in the future.
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on November 29, 2012
WORDS. There are WORDS in them thar pages! Glorious, well thought-out WORDS! My faith in YA has been nominally salvaged for the moment!
Widdershins (which is kind of a dumb name and the author even picks on it a little, LOVE IT)/Adrienne is a female that kicks ass and doesn't give a damn about taking names. And she just so happens to have a god sitting on her shoulders. Literally. He's just a little invisible but he really does talk to Widdershins. His name is Olgun. Sure he can be a rather convenient device for getting Wids out of trouble but there's a subtlety to it. I BUY it. There were enough times where he was missing when she really needed him to even it out for me. It's like she had her own Spiderman on her back shooting out his webby thing to catch her every once n a while. Everyone gets one. Or a few in Wids's case.

The set-up of how the plot is laid out is a bit discombobulating but quite frankly I just didn't care. There were too many words for me to roll around in to be distracted by silly things like a linear plot. It alternated between Wids's past life as Adrienne and her current one, interweaving past events with current questions to provide answers in an otherwise blind story. Because of that it took me a little while to get a grip on the purpose of the plot because it did feel a bit aimless for a few chapters there. It's intent wasn't clear. I was getting snippets of Wids's past story and then there's this current one going on but I wasn't sure why things were happening the way they were and there was enough of a gap left between the past and the present for me to have a few `huh?' moments. But, you know, WORDS. I was so engrossed in the gloriousness that is Marmell's writing that screw it all, as long as you keep writing like you do, dude, I don't care if you write in a figure eight.

It was hard for me to place Wids's age until it was expressly mentioned much later in the book. Marmell did such a great job of writing this street-wise youth that was aged beyond her years because of her experiences that I felt like I was reading about a twenty-something, not a seventeen-year-old. Plus it really helped that Wids didn't have the hang-ups that your other standard teens have a tendency of emoing in YA books. She had to grow up fast and Widdershins is the end result of what happened to Adrienne. Adrienne would have been that young girl getting giggly over a guy. At that point in her life she hadn't had too much bad luck; just enough to scar her and tuck away. By the time she became Widdershins there was no going back to that more innocent girl. That girl was dead.

Wids is the kind of character that you root for right from the beginning. Her toughness isn't obnoxious. She's a product of her environment but doesn't take it to an extreme that makes her unlikeable. She is the way she is because she has people up her ass making her that way. She doesn't WANT to inflict harm on people but it's kind of hard to retaliate when there are dicks after you with hammers wanting to crush your face. People she loves die and it's made her more and more of an introvert over the years that these losses span. She does everything she can to protect herself, both physically and mentally, from being harmed like she had in the past. There are so many elements working against her that you can't help but fall to her side to try and even the playing field and you end of feeling every one of her losses as she does. It hurts but that's what good writing does. I'll take it.

Have I mentioned the WORDS? Some samples for you -

At least, Widdershins assumed it was snoring. Judging by the sheer volume and variety of tones, the noise could just as easily have been a cold-stricken lumberjack chopping down a copse of trees with a wild boar.

Birds, squirrels, and other disgustingly pastoral creatures sang and chirped their greetings to the rising sun.

...Widdershins slipped gracefully throughout the temporary cracks in the wall of humanity.

Her chest heaved, tears ran down her face, and her throat threatened to crawl from her mouth and quit the whole situation in protest.

Widdershins, now curled up so tightly in a fetal ball she could have pulled her boots on with her teeth, whimpered something largely unintelligible, but distinctly ending with the words "...kill you with fire.

She staggered, her eyes rolling so far back in her head that she could probably have counted the wrinkles in her gray matter, and fell with a dull thud.

You!" There was enough venom in that single word not merely to knock a person dead, but to sicken the worms and beetles who would feast upon the corpse.

There came a point where I just needed to stop quoting because I ran the risk of copyright infringement via Goodreads status updates. As you can see, it's not flowery writing by any stretch of the word but written with such an intricate diamond cut of the English language that such overwritten verbiage isn't required to make it great. A few flicks of a sentence, a couple tweaks of a word and BAM. Word porn. It felt effortless to read and I never wanted it to end.

THIEF'S COVENANT is a book with some pretty serious elements to it, and some heinously sickening moments (the birth of the human-death-puke demon was a rather gross scene to read) but it was laced with this subtle wit that revived my faith in the English language; the words aren't dead and one doesn't need to speak in multi-syllabic, eggplant-colored words in order to have the appearance of good writing. It can just be good because you know how to take the simple things and twist them just enough to make them glorious. I can't tell you how many times this book made me chuckle for all the sly little jokes littered throughout. I wanted to swallow THIEF'S COVENANT whole.

Some level of spliced historical fiction fantasy, THIEF'S COVENANT is the book for you if you like strong female characters, an engrossing plot, wit and books that don't pander to the lowest common denominator. My brain did a happy dance reading something intelligent. I made it happy.
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on April 27, 2012
What really struck me as something in the Thief's Covenant was the span of time portrayed in the story. Like a jar of marbles, pieces of Adrienne Satti's life slowly come into focus for the reader between present day chapters. As readers move through the book so much is built up upon the character's story and histories together that one cannot be but amazing at the fluid progression and perfectly time divulging of the past inherit in TC.
Adrienne Satti is a survivor. From childhood brought adult, Adrienne has suffered at the hands of fellow man and t much break she is trying to survive all of her adventures as they twist and turn beneath her feet.
The Thief's Covenant is a most amazing story of heartbreak and triumph, while surround by luscious world building. The entire book takes place behind the walls of a city named Davillon, and through the eyes of Adrienne the inner workings of the people are revealed. From the rich houses and past the fancy parties to the retch covered streets and the marketplaces Ari Marmell has produced Davillon for readers. Rich in description and details TC has taken on a mantel of fantasy so well that it was hard to put down. With a strong group of characters that have a fantastic voice throughout the story I just did not want to leave their heads. Adrienne Satti keeps sing dealt the low hands in life, but as she struggles to stay alive and also to find it in herself to move on and seek absolution in her faults is fresh. Adrienne or Widdershins trusts little of the world and questions just another everything. With a string attention to detail this character can move stealthily through a world of heavy thievery competitions and a lengthy set of rules.
Trying to keep away from the jail cells and the assassins, Adrienne struggles to keep herself together but also take on dangerous new challenges. With several supporting character's making appearance throughout the story readers will feel compassion, delight, and heartache alongside the characters as they struggle to right wrongs setting place in their city.
Readers will delight in this new fresh release that keeps them at the edge of their seats airing for more. With more nicknames than your average person Widdershins will capture readers with her voice and wit while she runs from all sides of the laws. The Thief's Covenant is a new series that is not to be missed.
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on April 23, 2012
Fantasy books were my first love; they were the books which originally drew my attention to books, and the main reason I became so involved wtih reading. Unfortunately for me, I've found it difficult to find fantasy books I thoroughly enjoy, especially those that fit the YA genre.

Thief's Covenant is an astounding and charming fantasy book; it's a very well-written and enjoyable story featuring amiable characters and an engaging storyline. This is a new favourite of mine, and I'm eagerly anticipating the time when I can read the sequel! Although it's relatively unknown, this is one YA book that shouldn't be ignored by fantasy fans!

Reasons to Read:

1. Talented writing:
Ari Marmell is no stranger to writing or publishing, with a number of works under his belt already. But his venture into the YA world deserves high praise and I'm hoping to see more from him in the future. The way he writes the story of Widdershins is mesmerizing, and his ability to tell the story from a number of perspectives deserves applause. I was most impressed with his skill to incorporate both humour and horror in the story, making it an excellent, multi-faceted story.

2. Creative world development:
Easily one of my favourite parts of the book, I enjoyed discovering more about the world Ari had creatively written about in Thief's Covenant. It was nearly reminiscent of Tamora Pierce's Tortall and one that was rich in details and history, one that came across as being very real yet magical at the same time.

3. A captivating heroine:
Widdershins is a phenomenal heroine to read about, and the perfect main character for a fantasy novel. She's clever and precocious, and has that sort of instant charm that's hard to come by as a book character. It takes a special kind of story and writer to create this type of character that really sticks with you, and Widdershins will easily find her way into your heart.

4. An exhilarating plot:
The way the story is told in Thief's Covenant, involves a few chronological timelines which jump around back and forth a bit. Although it was a bit confusing at first to keep the details straight, it actually worked as an effective way to gradually reveal the background to Widdershins' story and retain some of the mystery. Plus, there's a good amount of action and adventure to keep your fingers glued to the pages, trying to find out what happens.

This is definitely an author, and book series, to watch. It's stimulating and thrilling story, one that is soon to be a new favourite for many readers.

Review copy received from publisher.
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on March 1, 2012
First off, simply because it's better to be transparent and avoid folks thinking that they've "uncovered" something, I chit-chat with +Ari Marmell online in a friendly manner. We're not currently bosom buddies or anything, since I doubt anyone would ever wanna see us in drag, nor am I compensated in anyway for my opinion, but we talk...

Now I pre-ordered Thief's Covenant for my Kindle and started reading it just after it downloaded, approximately on Valentine's Day, and, ironically enough, I feel in love with it during the first 20 pages. That's a fairly important milestone in reading, since I possess a health literate-constitution I can make myself read most anything but if something catches my passion in the first 20 pages then I tend to either fly through the book or force myself to keep a steady pace.

I was fairly sure that I was going to enjoy Widdershins before I ever read about her, simply because I'm a sucker for a well-done rogue and she seemed to fit the bill before we were properly introduced. However, her deft fingers had me wrapped around her and her plight quite quickly and, for that, I'm glad, truly glad.

Thief's Covenant is not only a good novel, young adult or what not, it is also an enjoyably new setting and take on many fantasy tropes. It pushes buttons similar to those of the Three Musketeers--romanticized intrigue and stylized wit--with the added elements of a low magic setting that has brief, yet intense brush with the divine. In many ways, Widdershins has the same flavor of The Gray Mouser, which happens to be one of my favorite characters in sword-and-sorcery literature.

Personally I think this would be a good buy for most folks, whether it's for the young adult in your life or for those of us who like good cunning adventure with a taste of youthful enthusiasm added to it. It's a fast read if you let it take hold, and if you don't you'll find yourself looking forward to each instance that you let yourself read it.
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on February 21, 2012
In Davillon, Adrienne Sati became an orphan while very young. Though all alone, she used her intelligence and streets smarts to live on the city's mean streets (and below) until taken into the home of Alexandre the aristocrat. However, her world crashes when she got tangled up with minor God Olgun, who is not even one of the acceptable worshiped Pact of 120 deities. Now with Olgun sharing her skull, Adrienne is back on and under the mean streets of Davillon, but as Widdershins and she cannot go home since being accused of mass murder of some of the city's elite.

Constable Henri Roubert catches Widdershins, but with no intention of bringing her in; instead he plans to shoot her claiming she tried to escape. The weapon fails and Robert's hand is severely damaged. Escaping, Widdershins and Olgun search for the real killer of the elite, why she is the last surviving worshipper of the god in her head, and who wants her dead and why.

Thief's Covenant is an exciting entertaining investigative fantasy starring a lead protagonist who, if not for the occasional magic, readers would assume is schizophrenic as she and her guest hold amusing satirical discussions. The storyline is not linear as the reader finds the hero at a pivotal plot point; but also going back in time to how the heroine got to her current dilemma and forward to how she tries to survive. With a strong city anchoring the otherworldly elements, high school age and older fans will enjoy touring the underbelly of Davillon with the twin guides as their squabbling jocular hosts.

Harriet Klausner
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on August 29, 2012
I found this book to have a super fast, intense start, then i got slightly bored (slightly), then at about half way I couldn't put it down! It has a good ending although I would've preferred it to be a bit different.....but I'm not the author am I? All in all its worth reading and is definitely not a plot that is over used in general. Its a very original story!
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