Friday, December 10, 2010

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Half Priced Books is a twisting and changing labyrnith of books that refreshes itself every time one enters it. Upon my last visit, I saw The Good Thief. I'd heard good things about the book so decided to pick up in trade for less than I could in paperback.

The writting is brief and to the point making it a quick read. While I haven't gotten very far in it yet (shakes first at 56+ hour work weeks), I have enjoyed what I have read. With that in mind, beware the spoilers!

Ren: The main character is missing his left hand. This in and of itself is a distinctive feature. Not only that but a limitation. While he does his fair share of work, it often takes him longer. In addition, it's a social stigma. Players generally love to have distinctive features ranging from hourglass eyes and albino skin to unique wounds or markings that make them stand out.

Ren is from an orphanage. The orphanage is Cahtolic in a Protestant land. They build up walls to protec themselves from being burned down. They didn't seek out children, but children were 'gifted' to them. Those children that don't find a family are adopted into the military life. In and of itself, this serves as a simple methodology for players who don't want a lot of family ties or background.

HOWEVER, and this is key, while Ren is taken out of Saint Anthony's Orphanage for boys by his 'brother', he does have a whole cast of characters that we are introduced to, if only briefly, including various brothers who have different personalities as well as other orphans. A pair of these being twins, apparently a bad omen in those dark times where the latter born was often killed as a changeling.

My point here is that just because you've set yourself up with the loner background by default doesn't mean that it must be that way. There were people at the church. There were friends at the church. Perhaps the blankets were too thin, but you knew what the schedule was every day and they provided food, shelter, and education. The routine of daily life, a secure daily life, might beat the 'adventure' one could find outside the walls.

I'm looking forward to reading more in the Good Thief because Ren quickly grows on the reader and provides some interesting observations in a setting that thus far, isn't that different than many fantasy settings.