The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids (Amra Thetys, #1) by Michael McClung is a refreshing and strong entry to the fantasy/magic genre. This is no cookie cutter story of the strong feminine character out to right all the wrongs and throw over an oppressive regime. No, in Amra Thetys, McClung has created something quite different.
“…I’m not terribly feminine. I’ve a scarred face, a figure like a boy, and a mouth like a twenty-year sailor. In the circles that count, I’m recognized as good at what I do, and what I do is not traditionally a woman’s profession…”
Amra Thetys is a thief and a very good one. She has few friends and likes to keep it that way, it is a necessity in her chosen profession. But one of those friends is the fellow thief Corbin and when he shows up at her home one night, asking a favor, she feels she cannot turn him down. He wants her to hold onto an item for her. A little thing, but the man who hired him to steal it isn’t trustworthy and Corbin intends to take him for more money now. Amra agrees, only Corbin never comes back for it and when she goes looking for her friend, what she finds instead is the tortured ad brutalized body of her friend.
“…They butchered Corbin right out in the street. That’s how it really started. He was a rogue and a thief, of course. But then, so am I. So when he got himself hacked up in front of his house off Silk Street, I decided somebody had to be made to pay. They thought that they could just sweep him away like rubbish. They were wrong…”
Amra is on a mission to find and kill the people who killed her friend. What she didn’t plan on was that they would come looking for her. Amra and the little item Corbin left behind. Now she finds herself hunted by the police, by the rich, by magicians and by dark Gods once forgotten. Amra is smart but she is only one girl against them all. She is going to need help and she is going to need to find a way to make some of her enemies her friends.
“…Whatever is inside, it’s ancient. Definitely pre-Diaspora. And it’s powerful, Amra. The most powerful artefact I’ve ever personally run across.’
Pre-Diaspora meant that whatever it was, it was more than a thousand years old. Possibly much, much more. From the Age of Gods. From humanity’s first cultures, before the Cataclysm that killed millions and saw the survivors fleeing for their lives. The time of the Diaspora, when the gods went mad and the race of man ran screaming in every direction, abandoning an entire continent. An age of myth and legend. And powerful and deadly artefacts.
‘How powerful are we talking, Holgren?’
‘I believe the thing inside the statuette is, in some way, self-aware. Probably intelligent, possibly even alive.’
‘Yes. But not human magic. I suspect that whatever it is, it was god-forged.’
‘And you want to let it out of the toad? Doesn’t that strike you as a tad dangerous? I seem to recall you saying something like it being ‘dangerous and distasteful.’
He shrugged. ‘What can I say? I’ve always been the curious sort.’
‘You mages are all mad…”
The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids is the beginning of a series but don’t let the title fool you. This is high, dark fantasy of the like you will not have run across for sometime. In a market deluged with re-telling of childhood fairy tales and girl power novels for the sake of girl power…this is a story. A damn good story.
Amra Thetys is a character you have not read in today’s young adult series at all lately. There is no love interest, no teenage angst, no cutie pie moments. This is a woman making it on her own in the world she has chosen. Not because there is no one around to help but she knows that knowing her puts others in danger.
This is a true anti-hero and she kicks ass!
A damn good read!