Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt

 

Hello everyone

Here we are with one of my holiday reads - Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt. The book is published by Angry Robot Books on August 23rd 2022.

If you enjoyed M.J. Kuhn's Among Thieves, this book would definitely be right up your alley. However, let's tell you about the book.


Service at the Red Rooster Inn isn’t what you’d call “good,” or even “adequate.” Darin would be the first to say so, and he owns the place. Evie isn’t much of a barmaid; Kat’s home-brewed ale seems to grow less palatable with each new batch; and Seraphina’s service at the bar leaves much to be desired. As for the bouncer, Big Tom, well, everyone learns right quick to stay on his good side.
They may be bad at running an inn, but they’re the best team of con artists in the Old Queendom. When a prospective client approaches Darin with a high-paying job, he knows he should refuse. But the job is boosting a shipment of priceless imperial dream wine, the most coveted and expensive drink in the world. And, thanks to a stretch of bad luck, he’s in deep to The Dame, who oversees criminal enterprises in this part of the Queendom.
If they fail, they’re as good as dead, but if they succeed, well, it’s enough money to get square with the Dame and make all of their dreams come true. Plus, it’s an option for Darin to stick it to the empress, who he has good reason to despise.
Then again, there’s a very good reason no one has ever stolen imperial dream wine…
Find out more about Dan Koboldt through his website.
 

I have to say, when I saw the cover of Silver Queendom I knew that I had to read it. I was instantly intrigued, I mean it is a fantasy heist novel and I do have a bit of a soft spot for that type of tale.

There is so much to like about Silver Queendom that I was instantly drawn in. We start the book immediately in the middle of the action, with Darin, the leader of our merry band of thieving con artists attempting to fleece a crowd of finely attired nobles. However, things start to go wrong when one of the posh knobs challenges him to a duel. Whilst Darin is a good duellist, he is at a slight disadvantage due to the fact that he does not have his own sword and the prig that he is duelling happens to be the son of one of the most influential men in the city. It is in this first chapter that we meet the rest of the gang; Evie, once a noble whose father lost their fortune, Big Tom, a fighter of dubious background, Kat, the brewer who has a soft spot for stray children and Seraphina, a hackneyed old witch who happens to put people to sleep with her special stew.

Now, I have to say that the book does follow a particular formula, but I think that this is part of the book’s charm. It knows what it is and it doesn’t deviate from the path that it sets out on. It uses the old familiar tropes, but is that a bad thing? Well in my book no, because it does them well and the book trundles along on its merry way taking you along with it.

I liked all the characters, who all had a typical back story of why they got into their way of life. The two standouts for me were Evie, the fallen from grace noble (I could read a whole book with Evie in to be honest!) and Big Tom, who is just a big softie doesn’t say much, likes horses and knows some of the dodgiest people in the kingdom. For me, I think that the weakest character was Darin, who I didn’t gel with, and felt he was a bit lacking, and I felt that the ensemble cast carried him rather than him shining through.

The plot, as I said runs a familiar line, but I liked that about it. The story has a number of set pieces that I thought worked well and kept me engaged and entertained. I was never bored in the story, and the pacing was pretty steady, coming up with various different scams and saving a victim of domestic violence before it actually comes to the main set piece.

The world building was minimal, just telling you the facts that you needed to get by in the world. On the whole, it was quite low fantasy with some fantastical elements, mainly coming from the magic system that was introduced. Now if there is one criticism of the book, it would be the magic systems of the book. For me, this wasn’t really explored as much, but I did like the way that Darin tried not to rely on it and felt that Dan Koboldt managed to use it sparingly rather than it being a deus ex machina device that got the gang out of trouble every time something like that was needed. I did think that something other than Metalurgy could have been used as it put me too much in mind of Allomancy a little too much, but hey, what the heck it works.

One thing that I feel needs mentioning is that with the team, Dan Koboldt stays away from the buckets of blood and I feel that this book could easily be given to a younger reader as a gateway into the genre. Yes there is one nasty death in it, and there is some intimation of sex, but it certainly isn’t offensive or exploitative and is a natural part of the story.

On the whole, this book is just good fun. It is light, entertaining and I would definitely read more stories set in this world.



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