Hired by a mysterious priest to attempt his most daring heist yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, schemers and thieves, he sets out to steam 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 civilisation.
The Thousand Death of Ardor Benn (TDAB for short!) only came into my life thanks to a lovely bookseller at my local Waterstones. Having a casual browse on a trip into the city centre, I was looking around the science fiction and fantasy section – the only place to be! This bookseller was sorting out the books on the table made specifically to grab your attention and she could see that I was looking for something, anything to catch my attention. Out of nowhere, she told me to take a look at TDAB; that it was a new fantasy novel on the scene and that, though she didn’t know much about it due to its newness, the cover looked good. I thought, why the hell not?! It’s not everyday someone suggests a book out of nowhere that they know nothing about, and you certainly don’t either. And here we are today – a good few weeks later I must admit – but I’ve finished the book and…
It was definitely a good pick!
TDAB is without question a hefty tome at just over 700 pages long. For what seems such a simple heist there is a lot of planning, subterfuge and training spent in creating the perfect scenario to steal from their king, King Pethredote. You might then be thinking, does that mean that the book is boring or long-winded? The answer to that is simply no. Of course you have the quieter moments of the novel, but it doesn’t in any way make the novel drag or seem like it is drawn out on purpose. Each scene is put there on purpose to reach the end goal, and ensure that the reader is fully aware of how they got there. Endless chapters on how the characters simply got into character is not mind numbingly boring, but it is intriguing and really helps to flesh out each original and made-up character. It helps to understand how our protagonists develop through their subterfuge and also draws you in so much that ruse and reality blend seemlessly. You begin to question each character’s motives, you begin to question beliefs, emotions, and feelings.
We have our three main characters: Ardor, Raek and Quarriah. Ardor and Raek have been joined at the hip since a young age. They’re the perfect team in that, as Quarriah duly notes: ‘One was a dreamer. The other a doer.’ The two clearly bounce off of each other with Ardor being the creative thinker and brains behind building each cunning new ruse, and Raek being the hands-on mastermind who can instantly tell you how much something weighs and how much of each substance you need just by looking or thinking about the situation given to him. They’re firm friends and nothing can get between them… In comes Quarriah, a young thief who has similarly made a name for herself. She’s the talent behind the ruse going right or wrong, the one that will ultimately lose her head if she cannot pull off the simple act of stealing the item they have chosen from the King. As they go through the motions of setting up the ruse, they all grow closer together bouncing off of each other and generating feelings that, due to them being in character, are hard to fully distinguish as real. With everything going on, all of these character grow and bond together as the ruse continues beginning to understand the importance of their mission and the part that they play in the future of the Homeland and the Greater Chain islands. They are constantly learning new things about themselves that they only begin to fathom due to an outsider picking up on quirks, habits, and mannerisms that one may have found as a positive, or negative, but is in fact the complete opposite.
TDAB is a novel that I became invested in. I couldn’t get away from a novel filled with dragons, deceit, cunning, wit, humour, and so much more. Whitesides writes a novel that has no holes in which you can pick apart the narrative, with everything connecting together. Even when you seem unsure that their latest plan won’t carry through, Whitesides characters manage to pull it all together and surprise you. Everything is linked and everything fits together seamlessly without feeling like it has been added in as a bit of filler or because Whitesides seemed unsure on how something could be resolved. There is a lot of humour, stupidity, wit, and cunning that really lighten the mood even in the darkest of times and really adds to how believable the characters are. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and see how Ardor, Raek, and Quarriah have impacted the world and what other adventures they will embark upon.