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The Thief's Gamble: Book One: The Tales of Einarinn [Paperback]

Juliet E. McKenna
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Jan 1999 Tales of Einarinn

In Einarinn, the secret of magic is known only by an elite few. They live in deliberate isolation, under the watchful eye of the Archmage. But nothing last for ever.

Livak is a part-time thief and a full-time gambler, long accustomed to living by her wits and narrowly avoiding serious trouble. When she attempts to sell a stolen antique to a passing merchant, she finds herself pulled into a new and dangerous world of political intrigue in which the stakes are higher than anyone involved can imagine.

For the antique she has acquired dates from a particular period in the history of Einarrin about which little is known, but much has been speculated. And when the truth begins to emerge, Livak decides to take the greatest gamble of her life.



Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; Reprint edition (7 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857236882
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857236880
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 10.8 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 578,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

One of the problems those not already besotted fans have with genre heroic fantasy is the real vagueness of its settings. One answer to this is to slot it somehow into real time--another, more interesting one is to provide the imagined world with a past of its own. McKenna does this less through the provision of endless chronologies and king-lists than through her characters' sense of what has been lost--her magicians, scholars and thieves are all aware of how little they know of the past and how much there is to find out. All the chasing around, sword fighting and hair-breadth escapes of the plot relate closely to the quest for knowledge, for understanding of the strange dreams that come to scholars who own ancient artefacts. Livak starts off supplementing her income from gambling with a little judicious burglary of the sort of thing she knows scholars are buying; she finds herself first blackmailed, and then more willingly recruited, into a cause which comes to be her own. And who are the mysterious blonde thugs who dog our heroes at every turn? McKenna's debut has areas of clumsiness, but real charm and excitement to overcome them.

Review

One of the problems those not already besotted fans have with genre heroic fantasy is the real vagueness of its settings. One answer to this is to slot it somehow into real time--another, more interesting one is to provide the imagined world with a past of its own. McKenna does this less through the provision of endless chronologies and king-lists than through her character s' sense of what has been lost--her magicians, scholars and thieves are all aware of how little they know of the past and how much there is to find out. All the chasing around, sword fighting and hair-breadth escapes of the plot relate closely to the quest for knowledge, for understanding of the strange dreams that come to scholars who own ancient artefacts. Livak starts off supplementing her income from gambling with a little judicious burglary of the sort of thing she knows scholars are buying; she finds herself first blackmailed, and then more willingly recruited, into a cause which comes to be her own. And who are the mysterious blonde thugs who dog our heroes at every turn? McKenna's debut has areas of clumsiness, but real charm and excitement to overcome them. (AMAZON.CO.UK)

A wonderful debut (J.V. Jones)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A taste of what's to come. 30 Sep 2003
Format:Paperback
Having read this book without any preconceptions, I found it fascinating to see the span of feeling in the other reviews below. This is about the only book that I have come across that has literally been given every score from 1 to 5 stars and, in my view, this clearly demonstrates the originality of the work.
McKenna's debut is certainly different from the normal heroic fantasy tales produced by the more established writers, and I think that there will be many who will find her fresh approach to world building a pleasant change from the standard quests. As an introduction to a world where the politics and the major powers are in a state of flux, this book lays the foundation for a fascinating series. The thought and work that has gone into building a convincing history to Einarinn is particularly commendable. Here is someone who is not just setting out to write a story, but to immerse her readers in an unusual depth of background, culture and geography, whilst also telling a story that has enough pace to maintain a bond between the reader and the lead characters.
My only real criticism would be that I felt some of the characters introduced later in the story, lacked the depth of those who had been around since the beginning. I found myself unable to picture these characters quite so clearly. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I am looking forward to getting the subsequent volumes in the series.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine piece of Fantasy Work 25 Oct 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Well, I am no literary critic, and I truely envy anyone with the self discipline to write any work of fiction, especially fantasy like this.
The plot is well developed and the idea's presented in the story are easily acceptable. Alright, so as a player of fantasy RPGs for the past 14 years they would do to me!
The story presents a female Thief and her adventures and intrigue in her homelands. She quickly becomes involved in something far beyond her imaginations, magic, swords, advances in technology, the secretive Elemental Mages and a strange blonde race all compete for her time and perhaps her downfall.
If you enjoy Eddings et.al you will find this a most pleasing read!
I cant wait to get the rest of the trilogy!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Debut novel with much to recommend it 14 Feb 2003
Format:Paperback
If you're reading this review, the chances are that you've seen a fair few swords-and-sorcery novels (or multi-volume sagas, as they more frequently turn out to be) in your time. If you're the type who'll read anything from Terry Brooks upwards, then here's what you need to know: secluded beardy wizards, convoluted names, small group on a quest, barbarians from across the sea, easy good/evil division. Okay? Good.
However, there's also much here for the more discerning fantasy fan. For starters, this is a fantasy world with rather more depth than the usual cardboard cut-out pseudo-medieval realm; the story takes us through environments and situations which carry within them a sense of historical and technological change. The action of the tale is triggered by an antiquarian initiative, led by wizards and scholars, to investigate the true reasons behind the fall of an empire. We hear of advances in smelting techniques, of new fashions and the effects of trade; this rarely feels like unnecessary detail, but is generally brought into the narrative when it is relevant to the plot. The magic systems are kept simple but remain intriguing.
The characters vary; some, such as the titular thief Livak (first-person narrator for around half of the chapters), work very well. Livak is a million miles from that patronising epithet "feisty" - she's quick-witted and capable without constantly feeling the need to prove it. She's also believeably experienced without being utterly world-weary. Casuel, in the subplot strand, borders on caricature but as a general rule works as a good contrast. The rest of the cast tend to be painted in broad strokes, and the interactions between them tend a little towards the flat, particularly once Darni is separated off from Livak's group.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hey, there is still good fantasy out there 13 Aug 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I've read fantasy for years (probably too many years..) and have become very, very bored with the adolescent hero who blunders around saving the world whilst growing up and finding himself as a man. This book is nothing like that - the characters have lives over which they have some control, they are good at what they do, and there is none of that ridiculously coy attitude to sex that so many books of the genre seem to have. I'll add Ms McKenna to the, increasingly select, list of fantasy authors whose books I'll buy and I'll recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good, readable, exciting fantasy. It's not too demanding but it's alot of fun.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
For a first book this is really well done. I enjoyed every page. While it is a quest oriented story it is different enough from other books to keep the reader interested. The world is entirely new and very well thought out. The authors writing (in my opinion) is very good, changing from first person narrative for the main character to a normal story telling style for in between chapters. Having read much fantasy stories for years I can recommand this book. I also recommand to have a look at this authors second book (The Swordsmans Oath); see my review there, I think it is even better.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite novels!!
Great story, well written, interesting, I just couldnt put it down, even when re-read it a few years later, I would definitely recommend it :)
Published 21 months ago by Kathy
4.0 out of 5 stars Great old-school epic fantasy
The Thief's Gamble is a great traditional fantasy, of the kind that made me fall in love with the genre when I was fourteen years old. Read more
Published on 16 Nov 2011 by W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic fantasy as it should be
As I expected this turned out to be an excellent and entertaining book. The world created was traditional in that it was pre-industrial and had magic, however it wasn't just the... Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2011 by Cathy Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thief's Gamble (reviewed August 2009)
Serial fantasy does not float everyone's boat, but despite being the First Tale of Einarinn this debut novel has none of the verboseness you find with novelists embarking on a... Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2009 by K. M. Knight
4.0 out of 5 stars A very impressive debut
This book is a little different to most fantasy novels. For one, it experiments with the narrative structure, hopping from first person to third person perspective. Read more
Published on 16 Nov 2006 by Sarah Kay
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!
I bought this book purely on the strength of the reviews people had given it, yet found it an extremely fustrating book. Read more
Published on 3 Aug 2001 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars I was not impressed.
I bought the book on all the star recommendations, but I found it hard to get involved in the book.
Too manny names, too manny informations, without depth. Read more
Published on 17 July 2001 by Isabella Balkert
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed following Livaks adventures in this fantasy world
This is the first in a series of book set in a fantasy world. Livak is a accomplished thief who gets caught up in the affairs of wizards by trickery. Read more
Published on 30 May 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has everything: pace , background, humour
I have seldom enjoyed a book so much: what's particularly impressive is the way Ms Mckenna works in satisfying amounts of backgrond without slowing the pace of the narrative. Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2000 by htahood@aol.com
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