Two thieves and friends, Hadrian Blackwater, a dependable optimist, and Royce Melborn, a hardened assassin, form the renowned and feared partnership they call Riyria (Elvish for “two”). When they accept a simple job to steal a sword, they believe they are just performing a regular theft that will pay enough for them to spend the winter in comfort. When the burglary goes terribly wrong, Hadrian and Royce find themselves on the run for their lives with an unexpected “companion” to ensure their freedom: the prince, now-king, who has condemned them to death for the murder of his father.
What can I say…this book confused me.
The book is divided into two halves, as they were originally published as two separate ebooks before being picked up by Orbit Books publishing and combined into one novel. Each plot line is surprisingly simple, making for easy and pleasurable reading, but I think what hinders this book is the point of view.
I’ve seen other reviewers of this book discuss how the book is written in third-person omniscient point of view, which allows the readers to see into the thoughts and feelings of every character rather than focusing on one, but I would go further and say it employs third-person objective point of view.
At 649 pages, Theft of Swords appeared to be one of those books that would have to grab me from the beginning in order to keep me riveted. And yet, it took about 500 pages for me to get that “I need to finish this book” feeling. I enjoyed the concept of the main characters, but for the entirety of the book they remained emotionally disconnected from me, the reader. Not only did the story spend a great deal of time focused elsewhere than the main characters’ storyline, but when we did get back to our main heroes we were rarely allowed to see their thought processes and inner emotions. There was a great deal of tell rather than show, and much of the book was bogged down by lengthy discussions between secondary characters that, though important to the plot, provided little to attract interest.
But still, my attention was stabilized throughout the story; I read through it quickly, and while perhaps a bit disinterested at times, I couldn’t say I was bored. By the end, my heart rate was elevated and I wanted to go out and buy the next book (curse you, April book-buying-ban).
I believe this story could have been so much more. Had it zeroed in on the main character’s friendship, delving into their past so we could understand their bond, and showed more of their snarky banter, then I believe this would’ve been a much more enjoyable and emotional read. I understand it is most likely written as a set up for the next two (slash six) books (and after the Riyria Revelations series was written, the author went back and wrote an origins series, the Riyria Chronicles), but again… 600+ pages is a long “set-up.” I did enjoy the world-building and am keen to see its expansion in the series, and I can only hope the series continues to improve.