About ten years ago I read Thief of Lives for the first time. I had enjoyed it quite a bit and recently I decided to revisit this series so I could finally finish it, having lost my place it in years ago. Remembering next to nothing about this book I was able to approach is as if it were the first time.
The story picks up not long after the end of the previous book, Dhampir. The first few chapters reintroduce the reader to the main characters, recap the events of the previous novel and set a few things into motion while will bring the bulk of the story into play. Leesil and Magiere initially are not all that much different than they were before. However it is Leesil that realizes and accepts that their lives are not going to be quiet and is preparing for a return to their vampire hunting ways. Magiere, on the other hand in a fashion that fits her character well, is in denial about everything and is a firm believer than she can have the quiet life she dreams of having. It is this difference between their characters that continues to make them an odd yet perfect team.
Things start off a bit slow, and while the pace does increase along the way, there is a lot of repetitive feeling to the story. I understand when authors give little recaps of what has happened in the past as a reminder to the reader of things, but in the case of this book it happened far too often and was a bit annoying. That aside though, once Lessil, Magiere and Chap made it to Bela to begin the hunt for more undead, things really did pick up. Not only that, but they are reunited with a few people they were certain not expecting to find.
It is here that a number of new characters are introduced as well. There is a good mix of difference characters from the lowly poor to the elite of the city with their limited view of the world and unbelieving ways about the undead threat within their walls. The two characters that stood out to me the most though were Domin Tilsworth and Wynn Hygeorht. Both of these characters are members of the Guild of Sagecraft, with Tilworth being the head of the branch of Sages. Tilsworths broken speech was perfect for someone not from these lands who was still learning the language and the ways of this city. Wynn, his apprentice, is the type of character I really enjoy in books. Smart, quiet, a bit shy, book savvy and just a bit stubborn. She adds a new element to the story, even if her contribution to he hunt may seem small. It is these two characters, along with Chane, that also help to give a bit more history on the world and the war which helped to shape the kingdoms.
It is this addition of world building, history and more learned characters that made the repetitiveness of going over the details of the previous book tolerable. And then of course there is finding out more about Leesil’s past, which would not have occurred had it not been for the appearance of the elf Sgaile. There is still plenty more to learn about the half-elf but each new details certain makes his character a bit more interesting. Magiere is also growing as a character as her Dhampir powers are becoming stronger as well as new powers coming to life. Welstiel also makes a re-appearance and continues to place his influence on events.
There was a lot more action in this book, especially in the latter half, which really helped to move the story along. Between this, the history, character growth and a bit of improvement in the writing itself, this book shows the potential for the series to become better with time. Fantasy lovers may very well enjoy this series and I can see it getter better with the next book. I look forward to continuing reading these books to see things progress.