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Thief's Covenant

Posted by Nick Sharps On Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Well it took me far longer than it should have, but I have now finished THIEF'S COVENANT by Ari Marmell. THIEF'S COVENANT is a short (and satisfyingly) breezy read, but finishing up final projects for school has really cut into my reading time. I am pleased to say that I have been having relatively good luck with my reading endeavors lately, and the debut of Widdershins does not disappoint. In a YA market saturated with dystopian settings it's nice to read one set in a fantasy setting.

Meet Adrienne Satti, also known as Widdershins. Street urchin, turned aristocrat, turned thief, Widdershins has led a rough life. Orphaned at a young age, Widdershins has known both poverty and high class. Having returned to the shady alleys from whence she came, Widdershins has established herself as a daring thief but will her street smarts be enough to save her from the dark conspiracy brewing in the depths of Davillon?

First I must commend Ari on his choice of setting. The city of Davillon and Galice as a whole (though the story never strays past the city limits) is familiar enough not to shock any fantasy fans, yet diverse enough not to just be the same old song and dance. Yes the setting still has a European vibe but rather than Medieval England, Galice is closer to an early - gunpowder age France. It's funny what a difference French names can make for setting the scenery. Then of course Ari throws in the Pact, an alliance of one hundred and some gods that ensures peace and stability. THIEF'S COVENANT takes a much different approach with the existence of "gods" than most fantasy and I have to say it is quite intriguing.

The aristocrats of Davillon worship separate gods, dictated by their affiliation. Even the law enforcers and thieves pay reverence to distinctive entities. The actual "powers" of the gods seem to be a lot more tame than the high magic and sorcery you will find in most fantasy. The gods of THIEF'S COVENANT are better equipped for granting small miracles and luck, than stupendous feats of supernatural force. I like that these gods have such a subtle influence, I only wish that more details were provided on the Pact and the various gods that it consists of. Of course this is the first Widdershins Adventure so there is plenty of room for exploration in later entries.

And this of course brings us to Widdershins. Too often I find myself unable to relate to the protagonists of YA fiction. Even in a lot of the YA fiction I like, I have trouble relating to the main character. And then of course even when I can relate, it doesn't necessarily mean I like them. It's difficult to cheer for a character you are unable to bond with. Widdershins is perhaps one of the most likable characters I have come across in quite some time. Like is probably an understatement. Widdershins is fun. She is a devilish rogue with rapier sharp sarcasm and no shortage of sheer daring. She is vulnerable too, in exactly the way you would expect from a girl orphaned as young as she. She makes some very foolhardy mistakes and though her confidence can be one of her greatest weapons it is also one of her deepest flaws. Widdershins does undergo some very traumatic events but you won't find any teen angst here, even at her most susceptible.

Another great aspect of Widdershins is Olgun, the pagan god that resides in her head. Being not one of the Pact, Olgun survival depends on Widdershins just as her survival depends on him. The relationship between the two is unique, communication is more than just conversation. As lovable as the dynamic duo is, I did feel as though the supporting cast was rather underdeveloped. I will have to see more of Renard and Robin and the rest before I will be able to care about them even a quarter as much as I do Widdershins, but with such a strong lead I find this pretty forgivable for the debut novel.

The writing of THIEF'S COVENANT is filled with beautiful descriptions but it is the wry wit that ultimately won me over. There is a good deal of humor to be found here, though I wouldn't go so far as to call it comedy. Very droll, very tongue in cheek, Ari delivers punchlines with excellent timing and all without sacrificing the tone of the novel. Dialogue is especially clever, and exchanges between Widdershins and Olgun are even occasionally laugh out loud funny.

With a dark, conspiracy-laden plot, a lovable protagonist, and copious amounts of smirk-inducing intellect, THIEF'S COVENANT is a wonderful start to a new YA series that can be read and enjoyed by teens and adults alike.

Recommended Age: 14+
Language: There are a few offensive words but not many.
Violence: There is violence but nothing worse than you'll find in The Hunger Games.
Sex: None.

Pick it up! It's worth the read!



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