this is part of as days pass by, by Stuart Langridge

Books I own by Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto

The Duchess of the Shallows goodreads

Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto (Grey City #1)

Young woman with a mysterious past becomes a thief and gets involved in various schemes in a fantasy city. So it's a bit of a cliched setup, but the book overcomes this by having lots of politics. There's a heist too, but it doesn't have the two key elements of a heist story, which are meticulous detail on the plan and then some sort of clever reversal at the end, so it's not a heist book. The politics is what it's about; even at a low level there are lots of schemes within schemes and everyone's got at least two motives for everything (which the story itself recognises and even mentions a couple of times). Higher up, there's quite a bit of subtle battling between the power bases in the city (the Grey, a not-very-secret society of thieves, the Red, a not-very-secret protection racket society of thugs and murderers, the churches, the nobility, and others). Also, there are hints of a Big Underlying Plot, where the mark Duchess has seems to be tied to...something. Worth reading; worth reading the next one, too.

The Fall of Ventaris goodreads

Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto (Grey City #2)

The scheming continues, and Duchess rises up a notch or three in the level of the schemes she's involved in. She still doesn't really know what she's doing, though. One nice thing here is that the overtly sexist nature of the city's inheritance laws -- marriage means the woman belongs to the man and he makes all the decisions, even if the woman is heir to a noble title and the man is some random bloke -- becomes a plot point, because Duchess could actually get her inheritance but she doesn't want to do so and then be forced into a marriage where the bloke gets it all. That's well-handled; normally the whole princess-raised-by-gypsies thing has as a plot goal that the princess reclaims her inheritance, and that's explicitly disavowed here; Duchess prefers being Duchess to being a disenfranchised Marina, and who can blame her?

She's still a cat's-paw for all the schemes, though, and she thinks she's cleverer than she is. She is, however, aware of this, as are about fifteen other characters, and she has a commendable lack of worry about it; the thing she wanted done got done, and, fine, maybe a bunch of other stuff happened too and she enabled that, but whatevaaaaar. In a bunch of other books this would result in endless angsty whining and here it doesn't. Duchess is actually confident, rather than being brash and naming it confidence.

More of the Big Underlying Plot, too, although it's sparingly parceled out in little bits; we still don't know what the deal is with He Who Devours or why (or even whether) he's taken a special interest in Duchess. This stuff -- the voice from the pit, the skeletons -- are touches of actual magic, which is a bit weird because this fantasy city doesn't have any magic or magical things at all; it's like mediaeval London, not like mediaeval Camorr. So meeting some animated skeletons shouldn't just be scary, it should be utterly mind-blowing, and Duchess's mind is not blown as much as it perhaps should be.

I'd like to read a crossover book with Duchess and Locke Lamora and Veranix in it, I think.

The Ruling Mask goodreads

Neil McGarry & Daniel Ravipinto (Grey City #3)

Third in the series, and it's clear that these are going to be Duchess getting tangled up in a bunch of multi-layered schemes, threaded through with hints as to the Big Underlying Plot. Sorta Dresden-ish that way, which is a compliment. Duchess is no milquetoast, either; half the schemes just arrive on her doorstep like Philip Marlowe's, sure, but the other half are all her doing. She's pretty well-heeled now, too, after a couple of decent scores, and importantly they aren't smash-and-grabs where one lives on the proceeds; she's running two businesses. (OK, one's a crooked dice game, but she is a criminal.) Making enemies, too, but business enemies; the mixture of cut-throat politics on both social and corporate scenes is something of a refreshing change for this sort of book, where the thief protagonist who does well normally manages it by stealing a really big diamond or something rather than by running a dressmakers' which is being noticed by the fashionable. Everyone's presentation is a bit unrealistic, though; people who get embroiled in the schemes (or embroil Duchess in theirs) are either commendably open about their motives (the three sisters, here) or intransigently enigmatic and impenetrable (the first Keeper, the other keeper chap, Minette), and actual real people are generally somewhere in between. So you don't tend to know what's going on, but equally there's no Columbo, Eugenides, Vetinari big reveal at the end. Also, there aren't really endings; the book stops because it's the length of a book, not because it's a particular story breakpoint; these stories could be one huge book, or fifteen smaller books, and there wouldn't really be a problem. Not that I mind, I hasten to add, but I'm now up to date as of this one (thank you Daniel Ravipinto for putting it on Smashwords after I whined on Twitter about having to buy the Kindle one), and it only came out three months ago, and the previous one was in 2013 which suggests that I'll be waiting some considerable time for book four. The Big Underlying Plot gets a bit of a boost in this, though; quite a lot is discovered (or at least speculated about). I shall read the rest, when they arrive.

Books I acquired (and have reviewed) in time 2022 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009

Back to the list of all books