10 January 2017

Books: The Prophecy Con (Rogues of the Republic #2) By Patrick Weekes (2014)

“Who would have thought a book of naughty poems by elves could mean the difference between war and peace? But if stealing the precious volume will keep the Republic and the Empire from tearing out each other's throats, rogue soldier Isafesira de Lochenville - "Loch" to friends and foes alike - is willing to do the dishonest honors. With her motley crew of magic-makers, law-breakers, and a talking warhammer, she'll match wits and weapons with dutiful dwarves, mercenary knights, golems, daemons, an arrogant elf, and a sorcerous princess. But getting their hands on the prize - while keeping their heads attached to their necks - means Loch and company must battle their way from a booby-trapped museum to a monster-infested library, and from a temple full of furious monks to a speeding train besieged by assassins. And for what? Are a few pages of bawdy verse worth waging war over? Or does something far more sinister lurk between the lines?”

While I favored the first book in this series, The Palace Job, I do think The Prophecy Con does come out a better book. Perhaps, as with most books in this genre of late, the writer spends so much time world building that the plot, the characters motivations, and growth take a backseat to all the detailed explanations. With the second book, the writer is freer to explore the world they create, but also give us a better look into the main characters. However, while the heroes here are refreshingly diverse, most of the dialogue is in the form of quips and one-liners. What helps, though, is that the characters also have depth that can catch you by surprise, even the villains seem less two-dimensional. Yet there are times I began to wonder how unbelievably clever Loch and fellow team members seemed and there was a lot of times the book lived too closely to the corner of convenience and coincidence. And Weekes creates these fantastic set pieces –though the whole last act involving a card game is laborious. I mean it’s hard to present these scenes in novels, which is why to certain extent they're better suited for the TV or movie screen- but seems unable to stop himself from figuring out a clever, even logical way out of the situations –it’s again, mostly handled with jokes. 

So the books sheer number of things happening at the same time, the shifting point of view, is a bit of distraction. Yet, even as I say this, I still found the book workable as hybrid fantasy novel that also blends some high technology (I wouldn’t call it steampunk per se, but it does have elements of it) within it. The characters are fun, the jokes work (most of the time), and the pages are highly turn-able. It offers, as I noted, a boat load of diverse characters which makes this series not designed for readers of fantasy where everyone is white, male, and straight. 

Again, it’s clear that Weekes agenda is to offer something new within the well worn path that is fantasy.  It’s worthy of read, mostly because it does not offer the same story we’ve seen before, and it’s light, but can be deep as well. To pull that off means something to me.

No comments: