Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: Thief's War by Hilari Bell

Knight and Rogue series
Release Date: March 8, 2014
Publisher: Courtney Literary 
Pages: 254
Received: ARC from author
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Why isn't there more buzz about this series? 

The Knight and Rogue series is one of those hidden gem series that doesn't seem to get talked about a whole lot but I'm gobsmacked as to why (except maybe the covers. Gotta say, I'm not a fan of them).

I'm going to try writing this review a little differently because, let's be honest, who doesn't shy away at the sight of a review for a fourth book in a series you haven't read?

But I WANT you to read this review. Not for me, but for the books, so I'm going to avoid ALL spoilers. (Still worried? Fine, here's my review for the first book instead.)

Why you should read the series

Brothers in arms

Michael and Fisk start out as reluctant allies and carry that hate mixed with love thing throughout the series.  They're polar opposites, so they're always bickering over which approach to take and worrying that the other is going to get hurt because they're doing something stupid (so each believes).

The beauty is that they're both often right. Michael is the chivalric knight (in an age where knights are ancient history) driven to do the right thing, even if it burns him. Fisk is a snarky conman and thief used to looking out for himself. Michael's a glass half full kind of guy. Fisk is definitely the glass half empty type.

They both contribute a lot to their partnership and I love seeing them work together to become a team greater than its parts.What makes it even better is both characters get to narrate, so we get to see everything first hand through both of their perspectives.


Each book has its own central mystery and Hilari Bell definitely knows how to write a good mystery. The clues are subtle enough that the resolution isn't totally obvious, but they're also not so hidden that I couldn't pick up on them. They come together at a nice pace, too, so the plot is always steadily building toward the big reveal. 

Character depth

Michael and Fisk are the type of characters who feel real. Stick them in a random situation and I know exactly what they'll say and what they'll do. I could tell you which jokes they'd laugh at and which would fall flat for them. Put them in a tavern and I could point out the lady they'd fall for.

As far as character depth and development, Hilari Bell has written Michael and Fisk a cut above your average character. Each book sees them grow and change and come more fully into themselves.

Not your typical fantasy

These books are set in a kind of fantasy 18th/19th-ish century, but they're not at all Jane Austeny. The characters aren't improper, but they're not Proper either. It feels more...American, maybe. Whatever it is, I like it.

The world building is pretty different, too. There's a whole system of magic and I like how even the characters don't know entirely how it works. Experiments, speculation, and fear surround magic and discovering how it works is another layer of mystery threaded throughout the books.

Improves with each installment

I wasn't IN LOVE with the first book, but I did like it enough to buy the sequel when it was on sale. I'm glad I did, because I liked that book even better. The second and third are a toss up for me as to which one I like better (maybe the second, but then again, there was that scene in the third...), but the fourth really raised the stakes (and that ending!) and now I am dying to read the fifth.

Bottom line

Each book is a solid, stand-alone fantasy/mystery, though they should definitely be read in order. If you're just starting out with the series, I highly recommend giving both the first and second book a shot before making any decisions. I think the story really hit its stride in book two.

For those already familiar with the series but perhaps a little wary because Thief's War isn't published by Harper Teen like the previous books, don't worry at all. The fourth book is a worthy addition and well worth the purchase.

I might even go so far as to say it's the best in the series, but then I remember that scene in book two...and that scene in book three...and that other scene in book two...

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Thief's War that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews/Goodreads.


  1. I'm glad the series keeps getting better and better, but yeah, those covers don't do it any favors.

    1. Nope, the covers definitely do not help the series. It's sad when bad covers happen to good books.

  2. Yeah, that cover is not great. It doesn't even tempt me to consider the book. But, your review does, Small :) I haven't heard anything at all about this series but I love fantasy and realistic characters so I'll see if the first book is available at the library and keep in mind that the sequel is even better. Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Yay! I'm glad my review can overcome the covers! You should definitely check out this series. I think it would be up your ally.

  3. You had me at brothers in arms and underrated series. The last series I read that hardly anyone knows about I ended up falling in love with. I am going to see if I can find these at my library

    1. Don't you just love finding those unheard of books that turn out to be fantastic? They make me want to call up everyone I know and give them a copy. I hope your library carries this series!

  4. I just recommended this series to a friend after reading your review because it is RIGHT UP HER ALLEY. But I am going to definitely check it out as well. I love finding underrated gems :)

    Lauren @ Wordy Hughes

    1. Awesome! I hope you both love it! Finding the underrated gems is half the fun of reading :)

  5. I probably would never have found this book if it were not for your review! I will definitely have to read it!


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