Liar. Thief. Legend.
Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.
When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.
But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory — Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.
Discover the start of an epic fantasy trilogy that begins with a heist and quickly explodes into a full-tilt, last ditch plan to save humanity. (taken from Amazon)
Thank you to Angela Man and Orbit books for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.
Wow! The Thousand Death of Ardor Benn started with a boom (quite literally), and segued right into an epic adventure that kept me riveted from start to finish. Take the movie Ocean’s 11, throw in dragons and a kick-butt fantasy world, and you’ve got the general idea. It’s so much more than that, though.
One of the many things that I loved about this book is that it’s smart. The heists-ahem, ruses– that Ardor plans are nothing short of ingenious. True, things rarely go according to plan, but the plans are brilliant. His character’s ability to adapt and even thrive under the unexpected made him a blast to read. Ardor existed in the vein of Kvothe, or Kaz Brekker. He was completely uninhibited by realistic thinking and possessed way too much charm. I liked that he wasn’t a young upstart. He had an interesting backstory and a history that eventually caught up with him, but he never brooded. There was no looking off into the distance moodily.
Of course, you can’t pull off a convoluted heist without help. Ardor’s partner in crime, Raek, was quite possibly my favorite character. He kept Ardor grounded, as much as anyone could. I loved that he was a wall of muscle, but his skills lay in being brilliant with chemistry. It’s the little switch-ups that made The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn so different from other books of this nature.
I can’t leave out Quarrah,the third major addition to the group. An incredibly talented thief, I feel like she was the most complex of the characters. The way she grew, and the choices she made, felt so real and natural. She had a strength of character underneath her insecurities that was fantastic to read.
Of course, what begins as a complicated and lucrative ruse (Ardor is hired by a priest, no less!) turns into something much more important than the ragtag group could have expected. It also becomes quite a bit more complicated. I honestly preferred reading about the heists more than what came after, although the latter part of the book was also fantastic. It’s just so rare to read such a perfect storm of thievery, trickery, and flat-out luck, that I was loathe to move on toward something else. Even though that something else was engrossing.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the magic system. It’s actually more chemistry and less magic and is pretty stinking cool. There’s a rhyme and reason to it that makes it even more interesting. The author knew exactly what everything did and how it worked. It is easily one of the most creative uses of magic (for lack of a better term) that I’ve read in years.
The world itself is rich with history and religion. I liked that the beliefs were explained without any sort of info dumping, especially since religion played into it quite a bit later on. And there were dragons! Real dragons! That alone would be enough to make me happy, but the writing skill, fantastic characters, and interesting plot made The Ten Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn an amazing read.
If you like heists, roguish characters, political machinations, great group dynamics, and excellent world building, this book is for you. In case you can’t tell, I enthusiastically recommend it.