Ah, the fantasy heist novel. It is a subgenre all on its own now. The seamless combination of the rich fantasy world building and the suspenseful caper. The results are explosive story telling. I am quite a fan of the genre.
Six of Crows is a particularly excellent sample. Leigh Bardugo’s introduces us to a new city set in her Grisha world. Ketterdam is run by merchants and thieves all out to make profit. I love make-believe cities that seem to have a personality of their own and this one certainly have. But let’s pause on how wonderful the world building is and move on to the characters.
Kaz Brekker is a criminal prodigy. Smart, dangerous and greedy. He is made an offer to good to pass up and assembles his crew of trouble makers to break into an impregnable military fortress.
We have a convict, a sharpshooter, a runaway with explosive know-how, a spy, a grisha, and Kaz, the thief.
We are given multiple viewpoints told from unique perspectives and personalities. It’s hard not to fall in love with Jesper’s swagger or Inej’s integrity. They aren’t the infallible con-men. It never feels like a checklist, but as a group of individuals working together, whilst dealing with their own personal troubles.
This characters are relatable. I think it’s because they are so variable in how messed-up they are. I weirdly related to Kaz because he sort of has a similar affiliation that I have. Don’t worry. I am a normal contributing member of society. Well, mostly.
Most fantasy is aimed at me anyway, being an antisocial white girl. But to have a character in a book ‘get it’. It’s a nice feeling. This is why #OwnVoices is so important. I’m not saying this is a own voice novel, but it is a wonderful example of how having a variety of fully rounded characters is not just essential. It makes stories more fun.
Clever, suspenseful and beautifully crafted. I’m going to go read it again.
Side note: Buy the sequel (Crooked Kingdom) at the same time. Spare yourself some emotional unrest.
Did you find something in common with the characters or the opposite. Share in the comments. (Please put SPOILERS at the top of the comment.)