The Thief Who Pulled on Troubles Braid is the first book in the Amra Thetys series by Michael McClung. It tells the story of Amra Thetys, a thief with morals. She has few friends, and one of them is Corbin. And when Corbin is killed, she hunts for those responsible for his death. She soon realizes that Corbin was involved in something much, much worse than she realizes.
It’s the winner of the Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-Off 2015, which was a thing organized by Mark Lawrence (author of the Broken Empire and the Red Queen’s War series) to help give self-publish books some publicity (I think). There’s about 270 entries for that year and to get to the top is an amazing feat. I’m planning to read through all ten finalists. You check them out here: http://mark—lawrence.blogspot.my/2016/02/the-self-published-fantasy-blog-off.html. There’s a new one this year, so I’d better start ticking off the list.
The prologue was great. The book begins with “They butchered Corbin right out in the street. That’s how it really started.” It seriously caught my attention. The rest of the story was well paced. I felt it stumbles a little at the start, but when it got going, it really got going. The plot kept moving along and there were a few twists that I caught me off guard and made me laugh at how ridiculous the whole thing had been.
The world McClung built was slightly shallow, which was acceptable given the length of the book, but it gave a lot of hints of something much deeper. Magic is present in the world and the battle between mages, both mental and physical was interesting. There were also demons and abnormally long hallways which feels like it’s something straight out of a horror movie. Trouble’s name (my interpretation of it anyway) is the Eightfold Bitch, which is an eight faced goddess. There’s more gods and goddesses, some of which are physically there, and of course there’s a creepy cemetery and an immortal assassin. You know what? It’s shallow but it’s wide as hell. Sure doesn’t lack variety.
The book lack a certain emotionality to it. Much of it, I think, has to do with the protagonist herself. She doesn’t react to the things that happen around her with much emotion. She’s just pushing hard to get to her goal and trying her best to ignore everything else. There’s secrets in her past that aren’t explored in this book. There’s also the fact that the book is a homage to the Sword and Sorcery genre of yesteryears. The Conan genre, if you will. I’ve not read any S&S book, but apparently a lot of them don’t really have emotions.
Amra Thetys herself, minus the emotion thing, was generally a good protagonist. She’s badass, has a boyish body and more scars on her face than she cares to count. All of which helps her become invisible in the slums of the city, helps in her thieving and keep her from the scums of the earth. She almost has a one track mind in her pursuit for vengeance. Her banter with Holgren was also fun to read.
The book is rather short, as I mentioned earlier. I would recommend giving it a try, just to see if you like it. It’s also quiet self-contained, most of the important questions are answered at the end of the book with only a few left out in the open. So you can decide after finishing this whether you’d want to continue reading, without feeling unsatisfied. As for me, I’ll be reading the sequels eventually.
Sidenote: I’ve just realized that Trouble’s Braid was published after the Luck’s Good Eye. So that might have affected my perception of the characters. The rest of the series is published in order after Trouble’s Braid.
A good story with an okay protagonist (for now, I have a feeling she’ll change as the series continues). Despite that, I still think it is worth reading the sequel, it’s just not something that makes me really want to get into immediately.