Den of Thieves by David Chandler is the first title in The Ancient Blades trilogy. It is also a thoroughly delicious tale in the old school known as sword and sorcery.
As in all the best sword and sorcery stories, our hero is not exactly a hero. To be specific, Malden is a thief. He’s the bastard son of a whore, and thieving was the only profession open to him that allowed him to make a living. But Malden is good at it. And, important for any sword and sorcery hero, or should I say anti-hero, Malden is a survivor.
Malden finds himself on the wrong side of the head of the Thieves’ Guild of Ness. How does he do that? By being a little too good at being a thief, and burgling a house under the Guild’s protection…successfully. But entry into the Guild’s membership costs more than Malden will earn in a lifetime. So, he looks for a way to earn a lifetime’s worth of gold, fast.
In the best, or is that worst, sword and sorcery tradition, Malden gets in over his head. He gets involved in a scheme to steal the crown of the head of state, the Burgrave. His commission comes from a sorceress and a knight carrying an “Ancient Blade” that is called Acidtongue for very good reasons.
But the crown is not just a crown. And the knight is no longer truly a knight. And the sorceress, well she really is a witch, but witches aren’t exactly witches as we know them.
But there is a sorcerer involved, and he wants to bring down the city. And there is another knight involved, an idealistic knight who still believes in his vows, and he wants to rescue the witch. And Malden, he discovers that the hard part isn’t stealing the crown. The really hard part is stealing it back–while playing “keep away” from demons.
Escape Rating A: Sword and sorcery is fun if you like your laughter with a side of gallows humor. Den of Thieves is no exception. Malden is always one step ahead of his doom. Sometimes only a half step, but still ahead. His best hope is win another day. To survive. And he does. Or, at least so far.
Malden’s story continues in A Thief in the Night, which is due out in September. Malden is so good at getting himself into trouble, I can’t wait to see what he does next!