The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
Series: Rogues of the Republic #1
Published by 47north
Published on: October 8 2013
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The most powerful man in the republic framed her, threw her in prison, and stole a priceless elven manuscript from her family.
With the help of a crack team that includes an illusionist, a unicorn, a death priestess, a talking warhammer, and a lad with a prophetic birthmark, Loch must find a way into the floating fortress of Heaven's Spire–and get past the magic-hunting golems and infernal sorcerers standing between her and the vault that holds her family's treasure.
It'd be tricky enough without the military coup and unfolding of an ancient evil prophecy–but now the determined and honourable Justicar Pyvic has been assigned to take her in.
But hey, every plan has a few hitches.
I’m probably going to horrify a lot of Fantasy lovers by saying this, but . . . I was not a huge fan of The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. And believe me, no one was more surprised by that than I was. At the time this review was written, it had a 4.28 average rating on Goodreads, based on nearly 75k readers.
Additionally, the second highest category (after fantasy) the book was shelved on was Adventure, and 25% of readers also shelved it as Crime. And people . . . it is a truth universally acknowledged that Adventure + Crime = HEIST.
And maybe there was a heist. I honestly don’t know, b/c I was too bored to get there.
YES. It was clever. YES. It was beautifully written. NO. It did not hold my attention, and it wasn’t an issue of too many details, b/c I THRIVE on details.
It just wasn’t what I was expecting, and the difference between reality and expectation was so great that the two could not be reconciled. *shrugs*
There is a reason why I’m yammering on about The Lies of Locke Lamora when I’m supposed to be reviewing The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes, and that reason is The Palace Job was exactly what I was expecting The Lies of Locke Lamora to be: a laugh-out-loud high fantasy heist.
And it didn’t sacrifice depth to slapstick comedy either. Rather than separating the humor from the detail, which is what I felt happened in that other one, Weekes combined the two, and as is often the case, the whole was greater than the parts.
Take the political commentary that happens throughout the book via puppets (yes, puppets—you can say a lot with a puppet that you can’t say as a person b/c sedition). The two main factions are represented by fantastical creatures, and when our heroine is looking for information, the puppeteer asks her:
“Tell me, if you don’t mind . . . which do you favor? The griffin or the manticore?”
Loch looked at the griffin, an eagle’s head and wings on a lion’s body, and the manticore, a lion with bat wings and a scorpion’s tail.
“Funny thing, Yeshki. You get right down to it, they’re both mostly big cats.”
*stands* *ovates* (<------it's a word if I say it's a word) But cleverness is not enough to make a stellar heist novel. It also needs a fantastic cast of characters. Like a wizard of questionable morals:
“Are you a good wizard?”
. . . “Do you mean good as in ethical or good as in capable, Dairy?”
A #2 who takes pride in his less-than-reputable work (and can tell “your mom” jokes in at least three different languages):
“I’m just saying, as someone who occasionally rigs fights, I’m offended by the lack of professionalism.”
A flexible ascetic:
“Do you radiate cold magic when you punch people?” Kail asked.
“I do not engage in physical combat,” Icy replied, taking a bite from his vegetable plate, “and I possess no elemental magic ability.”
“Then why Icy Fist?”
“It is short for ‘Indomitable Courteous Fist,’ which is my full name.”
“That’s significantly less cool, Icy.”
And a unicorn who only lets virgins ride her in a decidedly different context than most people are familiar with, a sentient, if incoherent war hammer, a love/death priestess, and a virgin:
“No alcohol for the boy,” said Desidora.
“Kun-kabynalti osu fiur’is,” mutterd Ghylspwr.
“Because he’s sixteen,” Desidora insisted. “Kail, you will not give him alcohol. Do I make myself clear?” Her hair darkened perceptibly.
“You just had to play the death priestess card.” Kail grunted. “Fine. Virgin for the kid.”
“Virgin,” said Ululenia, smiling dreamily, her horn shining brightly on her pale forehead. “Mmm.”
Among others. *snickers*
And of course there’s also the requisite Bad Guy who comes equipped with puns and henchmen:
The airship hit another building and lost most of its aft section. Loch dropped her knife and clung to a flailing rope as the deck slid out from under her, and she felt open air yawning sickeningly beneath her dangling legs.
“Reached the end of your rope, Loch?”
I could give you more details, but you already know the basics, and the basics are all you need. The Palace Job was so thoroughly entertaining that the only reason it wasn’t a 5.0 star read is b/c it had a slow start. BUT. Once I hit the 18% mark, it was action and hilarity from that point forward. SO. If you like clever things, fantasy, heists and the criminal masterminds that plan them, I strongly recommend you discover this hidden gem for yourself. It might just be the most quotable book I’ve ever read.
ALSO, the kindle versions of both books are on sale for $2.00 right now. Fyi.
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