Thursday, October 3, 2013

eBook Review: The Penitent Damned

Alex is a master thief, with dark magic to give her an edge. When she goes up against Duke Orlanko's Concordat secret police, though, she may have taken on more than she bargained for...

This is a prequel short story to The Thousand Names. It was released for free on io9 and is also available on the Kindle Store.

I want to read "The Thousand Names" and this short story (maybe 20 pages) was a very good sample of what to expect. We open on the "Last Duke" Orlanko musing how he hated using Andreas because he (and his comrades) represented Orlanko's concession that his world was not as perfectly organized as he wanted. Orlanko is a man who likes everything to be in their place and to need Andreas to clean up messed that couldn't be dealt with in the normal ways rankled him.

But hey you know what they say about necessary evils and all that...

Alex meanwhile is the protege of Metzing, a semi-retired master thief who hailed from Vordan and vowed never to return. Alex convinces him though--the money's too good to pass up for such a simple job, they could retire to being merchant princes!--and with her usual skill the job goes off without a hitch. Except the job was a trap and the trap was for Metzing not Alex.

The latter half of the short story is taken up with Alex learning the price of her talents. In a short time we see the arrogance that Alex has in regards to her talents and skills and the cautious warning she should have listened to from Metzing.

This only made me want to read "The Thousand Names" more as the person the Last Duke mentions in the last line is one of the main characters of the first book. "the Penitent damned", the name given to those who wield the (supposedly) demonic magic like Alex has and who give their lives selflessly to making others' lives better even though they will burn in damnation for all time, intrigued me as much as it did Alex. The Black Priest tells Alex that her magic stems from a demon, but Alex scoffs at this. We're never told where she gained her shadowy, inky tool and all the Black Priest claims is that it was lost hundreds of years ago due to a clerical error.

Right. Sure. Because when I make a clerical error at work it leads to a possibly demon forged and possessed weapon getting loose that no one seems too worried about tracking down.

I do agree with other reviewers that if I had read "the Thousand Names" first that some of the references would make more sense, but I think this works well enough as an introduction to the world. Just make sure to have the book on hand to read directly thereafter.