Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Silver Queendom may be Koboldt's first purely fantasy work (the Gateways to Alissia series always felt more science-fantasy to me) and I love it. In the mood for a fantasy heist? With found family and a crew of misfits? But not too much magic that it makes your head spin? THEN THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!
The crew from the Red Rooster Inn are having a run of bad luck. Their latest heist - at the Duchess of Eskirk's gala no less - went pretty well...until it didn't. Returning home with a pittance and a new crew member, Darin has to think of a way for them to earn coin fast - or face the wrath of The Dame, the criminal overlord of this part of the Queendom. So when a high-paying job with impossible stakes comes along, it feels impossible to refuse. After all, who else can say that they've stolen a shipment of imperial dreamwine and lived to tell the tale? That's if they live to tell the tale.
Koboldt's strength has always been in his characterisation and the Silver Queendom has the most compelling band of misfits you've ever rooted for. Darin is the man with a plan (or many plans) who's constantly trying to protect his crew (and his marks) while refusing to use metallurgy (a magic drawing from silver, reminiscent of Sanderson's Allomancy) despite all the ways it could really make his life simpler and safer. Evie dreams of returning to the high life - the one her father destroyed with his gambling habit - but now uses her background to blend seamlessly into high society while stealing their stuff. Big Tom may initially come across as the dumb muscle - but while he's clueless about the ways of the world and is overly kind to animals, his military knowledge and protectiveness are what often saves the day (or rather, Darin). And newcomer Kat is just chaotic hilarity with her nigh-undrinkable ale (it's an acquired taste) and her ever-growing list of adopted boys. Then there's Seraphina, the mysterious mentor-type, who's always there to welcome them home.
And as much as the story is about the heist, it's also about how all of them learn to truly rely on each other and start to call the Red Rooster home.
Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Angry Robot Books via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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