The Spirit Thief - Rachel Aaron Rachel Aaron's The Legend of Eli Monpress is a series that has repeatedly popped up on my recommendations lists in the past; I swear every few weeks I'll be browsing through suggestions on my online book stores or Goodreads pages as usual and this blue cover will show up, with the man's face on it flashing his sly little smile at me. It's like he's saying, "READ ME! Come on, you know you wanna!"

Obviously, my curiosity gotten the better of me, or more accurately, World Without End's Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge gave me the perfect excuse and motivation to finally pick this book up and read it. And I'm happy to report, I wasn't disappointed.

The book begins with a kidnapping. Eli Monpress, the greatest thief of his age and also a talented wizard, has decided to pull off the greatest theft the world has ever seen, and what greater theft is there than the stealing away of a nation's king? His plans to increase his notoriety fall through, however, when he unwittingly brings about political turmoil that could threaten the kingdom and even the spirits of the land. Miranda Lyonette, the spiritualist tasked to hunt Eli, ends up joining forces with him and his friends to put a stop to the evil forces before they can destroy everything.

I've noticed that in recent years, the genre of fantasy has evolved towards being darker and grittier, and on the whole I feel it's a good trend. Still, every once in a while it's still nice to see something like The Spirit Thief that's fun, down-to-earth and makes you feel good after reading it. There's a lighthearted feel to the story, but there's also enough suspense in it to hook you. I for one found it very engrossing from the get-go.

I also found the magic system intriguing. The wizards in this world don't perform magic directly per se; instead they make requests or set up arrangements with the spirits that exist in everything from mundane objects like doors to the natural elements like the air, lava, or even full bodies of water. Miranda the spiritualist, for example, maintains symbiotic relationships with multiple spirits who serve her, and in return she provides them safe places to reside and lets them feed off her magic.

My only issue is a minor one. It has to do with the characters and a feeling that they haven't met their full potential. For one thing, the series' eponymous character feels merely like a side character, and while Eli is described as roguish and charming, I can't help but think of him as more cocky and annoyingly obnoxious. Maybe it has to do with how much he's constantly described as "grinning", and all I can picture in my head is that cover image every single time. The same goes for his companions Josef the swordsman and Nico the demonseed; both are very interesting, but don't seem to feature prominently enough for me to truly care about what happens to them.

My feelings for the characters not withstanding, this was a good start to what looks to be a series I definitely want to keep reading. If the rest of the books are as entertaining and fun as this first one, I think I'll enjoy it quite a bit.

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