Hello everyone and happy Monday! Today I am finally here with a review for a book I have read in November, but I was waiting for the right mood to strike and it was a long wait, but here we are! So let’s begin!
Title: The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn
Series: Kingdom of Grit #1
Author: Tyler Whitesides
Page Count: 784
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.
When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.
But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory -Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.
I would have liked to write something a bit more insightful for this book, something to make it justice because, even if it is not perfect and there were some things that didn’t sit so well with me, it would have deserved a proper review. But when I finished it I wasn’t in the right mood to write it down, and more time pass and more things I am going to miss. So, dear book, I am sorry. But I can at least try to say something about it, and maybe a bullet review would help me out. So let’s start!
The amazing :
1) the fun. To be honest, there are a lot of good things in this book, but… But the best of them all was that this book was highly fun. I laughed quite a lot and there are some scenes that seem cinematic. Like they were taken from a comedy movie or like Benny Hill’s show.
Yes, it is a chunky book. Yes, we have a con, twists, and plot. Yes, we have action. And yes we have a new world to explore. But those scenes! They were just the top of the top!
2) The magical system. They do magic thanks to dragons’ poop. And yes, you did read it right. What I have to say more?? It was just pure genius!
3) Ardor Benn. Con artist extraordinaire! In my heart, I have a special place for Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, but Ardor and Raek almost stole their place in it. Ok, that’s not quite true. Nobody can take Locke and Jean’s place, but they almost get to share the place. This is more correct. Anyway, places in my heart aside, Ardor is a complex character, with lights and shadows (and a slight obsession, too) and I really appreciated him. But then, con artists and thieves are my cup of tea. And the apple of my eye. So I may be a bit biased.
4) the sheer audacity of some of the plans. Some of the things that Ardor and Raek (see the next paragraph to know more about him) create are amazing. Their plans are brilliant. Sometimes they are not really perfectly planned out, sometimes they are in the least minutia, but usually, they are just short of amazing.
The really good things:
1) Raek and Quarrah. They are interesting and capable characters, and even if Ardor is more bright, in some sense, they are necessary, both for the plot as a whole and for Ardor to shine so brightly. Raek is also the one who gives us most of the comic relief, together with Ardor, while Quarrah is the serious one. But she manages to stand her ground amidst all the craziness that is Ardor and Raek.
2) The twins. Wow. Those two characters are secondary, yes, but they are just… Wow! And I would say no more. You have to meet them for yourself!
3) world-building. To be completely honest maybe the author could have done a tad more. I mean, we have a lot of pages in there, so it would have been nice to see something more. But this is just a minor complaint because really, this world is fascinating. And we have dragons! Real, flying, and fire-breathing dragons! And we have also an interesting religion. I appreciated the description of the Moor. It is a place I would love to visit. And the Isles. This was a thing I enjoyed a lot. A LOT!
4) the plot. We have so many twists and turns that you would always be on the edge of your sit. The author manages to keep the interest alive, and for all the length of the book!
The not so good:
(sorry, but this part is made up by spoilers. I cannot do it in any other way, sadly, so keep reading only if you have read the book, or if you really don’t mind spoilers!)
1) when our characters flew on Pekal they change their whole personality. I am not talking about Quarrah here, she is the only one who always stays true to herself, but Ardor and Raek seemed two completely different people. And if on one hand, a tad of change could make sense, because their role demands it, in some ways, this change so deep and complete was a bit overdone, at least to me.
2) Ardor Benn. I know I said he was one of the amazing things in this book. And he is. But his obsession, his need to go always on and on, his drive were… a bit too much. I have to say that this point is completely due to personal taste. I can understand him, and I can see that the ending makes perfect sense and it is in line with the character, but I cannot say I am satisfied with it. I was hoping for something better from him, really.
3) the ending. And this point is linked to the previous one. I liked the ending of the con, but I did not like how things ended between the characters. And I know that this is just the first book, and I would continue the series, so there is time to put things right but… I cannot say that I am happy with it.
4) the time-travel thing. OK, this annoyed me. A lot. It irked me, and for a moment there I was really, truly mad. Because come on! Time travel? Really?? We didn’t get enough things in there? I think that this was overdoing. Greatly. It is true that I am not a fan of time travel so maybe a tad of my disappointment could be for a reason of taste, but I truly believe that this book has in it enough wonders and things and schemes and twists that this was simply overdoing. And it was such a disappointment!! It was going all so well and then… Nope. I really didn’t appreciate it.
OK, this is the end of the spoiler part.
All things considered, my vote for it is 3.75, rounded up to four just because this is the first book in a series and maybe some things would be better addressed in the next ones. I wasn’t so keen on giving it 4 stars because there is one thing that really rubbed me the wrong way, but… But it is a book that deserves to be read. It is fun, quick, and full of wonders. And the con! Oh my!
And that’s all for today! What about you? Have you read this book? Or do you have it on your TBR? Let me know!