Spoiler-Free No Heart for a Thief Book Review
I was immediately drawn to the cover of No Heart for a Thief by James Lloyd Dulin and requested an arc after reading the Goodreads description. I am so glad that I did!
No Heart for a Thief is being released January 24th 2023 by G & D Publishing. You can preorder it now from all your favourite places.
Into the review!
From the beginning, this was not what I was expecting from either the cover or description. No Heart for a Thief is an engaging, character driven fantasy story told in two parts: the present-day and flashbacks.
Like The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, we have a main character, Kaylo, who is a well-known figure – known as the Hero of Anilace and Ennea’s Thief. He tells his story to Tayen, a girl he saved from occupying soldiers in their country, through flashback chapters.
I think I preferred the present-day story a little more, but both parts interweave well and are thoroughly engaging. The writing style is just fantastic too! Here is a quote that really stuck with me:
You see, little Shade, a story is a peculiar thing. Change a word – the emphasis of a word – and it can become something it was never meant to be. A hero can become a tyrant. A tyrant can become a great uniter. And a boy who makes a lot of stupid decisions can become a myth.
Kaylo is such an interesting main character. Initially there is a lot of mystery surrounding him, but through his telling of the past 18 years of his life, we get to know him much better. He is a complex person, initially withdrawn and reluctant, but as the book progresses, he comes out of his shell.
Tayen is a fantastic character to follow. She has a hard, tragic story, much like Kaylo, and struggles with a desire for revenge. She does progressively become less impulsive throughout the story, taking the time to learn from Kaylo as a mentor instead.
The final point I want to make about the characters is that there is a lot of humour here – especially in their interactions. I was not expecting this! But several times I found myself chuckling. This did not bring me out of the story, but instead solidified my love of the characters.
Cool Magic System
I can’t speak much on this without spoilers, as very little is given away about the magic system at the beginning, and we are drip fed information throughout the book. However, what I will say is that it’s intriguing, mystical, and fun to read!
The magic system incorporates spirits and gemstones, giving individuals certain powers. That’s as specific as I can be! But trust me, it’s cool and you’ll definitely love it.
Despite being quite an intimate, character-driven story, the worldbuilding is fantastic. We are in Ennea, a country occupied by an intolerant Gousht Empire. The Gousht take slaves, force the local population to speak their language, and generally attempt to destroy the Ennean culture.
There are obviously dark themes throughout, and the incredibly difficult and demoralising lives of the natives is harrowing to read. James Lloyd Dulin treats this theme with care throughout the book, making for quite a philosophical and engaging read – Like I said earlier in my review, this was not what I was expecting!
No Heart for a Thief by James Lloyd Dulin is a fantastic debut fantasy novel and I am eagerly awaiting the next two instalments in this series (called Malitu). Definitely check this book out if you enjoy complex interesting characters and thought-provoking themes.