As The Mad Hatter said, Giant Thief has one of the best opening lines ever. And as it begins, so it tries to go on in the same vein. And I'm glad to report that in this effort it largely succeeds. Giant Thief has a lot of humour in it and had me smirking at a number of scenes in the book.
Giant Thief's greatest strength could also be seen as its largest weakness: basically the book is one long chase scene. Action-packed and high-paced with relatively few breathing points, it's fun, but at times all the constant running gets wearying. There is also very little world building; while we see a lot of the real estate of this world - two cities, some small villages, Giant country and lots and lots of countryside around the Castoval - we don't learn that much about its history and society and about the lands outside the Castoval. Normally this would get on my nerves - as I'd be asking why Moaradrid was invading and from where and why is there no central government to defend the country - but in this case it isn't necessary to the story Tallerman tells, so I didn't have that much of a problem with it.
As scant as the world building was, in my opinion, the more well-rounded are the characters in this book. Easie is a fun character, though not always terribly likeable. He's wry, clever and always looking out for Number One. Still, throughout the narrative we see flashes of a more ethical and honest man, who is disturbed by his own lack of morals and loyalty. These flashes are what kept me reading and didn't make me throw my hands up in despair at Easie's smug selfishness. By the end of the novel there even seems to be a bit of hope that Easie might mend his ways, a little that is, because it doesn't seem that he could ever walk the straight and narrow! His selfishness was emphasised by his interactions with his main companions throughout the novel, the giant Saltlick and Marina Estrada, the mayor of Muena Palaiya, who seems to be the head of the resistance to Moaradrid's invading forces. Now there were two characters I really loved. Marina is courageous, has her heart in the right place and boy, she's not afraid to speak her mind! I kept expecting something to develop between Marina and Easie, but surprisingly it doesn't. Maybe that's a development we'll see in the second book.
Saltlick, the titular stolen giant, was my favourite part of the book. I love how at first he seems nothing more than a lumpy, hulking mass of flesh, more resembling a rock in both action and intellect than a living being. But slowly and surely he becomes more and more of a person, with deep feelings and Easie discovers he's far smarter than he seems. I loved his growth during the story and where he ends up at the close of this book. I would have loved to have seen more of the giants, other than the party's short visit to their home, but hopefully we'll see more of them in Crown Thief.
Giant Thief is above everything about fun. It's a rollicking tale of being chased and getting away and maybe along the way finding a conscience. It's this latter element that keeps this book from being nothing but a humorous, popcorn summer blockbuster of a story. Easie's and Saltlick's development lends depth to the narrative and I myself am curious to see where Tallerman will take our heroes next. Will Easie be able to keep listening to his conscience and will Saltlick grow into the leader Easie - and the reader - knows he can be? Hopefully all these questions and more will be answered in the sequel Crown Thief, which is expected later this year in October. For now, Giant Thief is out from Angry Robot Books on February 2nd and if you're up for a fun, fast-paced adventure featuring rogues, giants and lots of fighting, you won't want to miss it!
This book was provided for review by the publisher.