This is the first book in Shearin’s fantasy series. It’s set in a city which is set in a secondary world with elves and goblins.
Raine Benares is a Seeker who finds lost items. She’s not especially powerful but she has connections and friends. While she’s an orphan and doesn’t even know who her father is, she’s very much a part of her mother’s family who are mostly pirates and thieves. She’s also in very good terms with her sorceress landlady and the landlady’s grandson is almost like a little brother to her.
Quentin Rand is a supposedly retired thief who Raine employs sometimes. He has a habit of getting into trouble and so Raine feels protective towards him. When she notices that Quentin is about to break into a necromancer’s home, Raine decides to follow him and make sure he doesn’t kill himself. Raine’s cousin, the handsome pirate captain Phaelan, comes along as her trusty sidekick.
Things go wrong, of course, and Raine finds herself in possession of a mysterious amulet. A lot of people want the amulet. Among them is the notorious goblin grand shaman and his crack troops who will murder and torture to get what they want. The supposed good guys are also after the amulet. The head of the order of Guardians (who is quite powerful, not to mention handsome, too) turns up with his men.
The plot is quite fast-paced and has a lot of people. Most of the time Raine has a sidekick with her; either Phaelan or her landlady’s grandson Piaras. This was quite amusing to me because I’m used to male characters who have female sidekicks (or less powerful male sidekicks) to protect and it worked well.
The world has at least three intelligent races, humans, goblins, and elves, which can apparently interbreed with each other and get along well enough to live in the same cities, although each in their own part of the city. They use rapiers instead of heavier swords and their ships have cannons. There was no mention of pistols or muskets, and if they exist, the Guardians would have probably used them. I was a bit uncomfortable with such modern concepts as diplomatic immunity and ordinary city watchmen giving tickets to nobles in a fantasy book. Oh, and goblins aren’t green skinned little uglies but look like humans except for a light gray skin. Some of them are even very handsome to elven eyes.
I also had a minor problem with the English names: a feared necromancer named Nigel? Really? Mychael is also not fantasy enough for me.
There’s some romance in the book as well and I’m afraid I didn’t much care for it. Now, Mychael is someone new and I can see why Raine would be attracted to him. But Tam? Tam is handsome, charming, and rich. He flirts with Raine every chance he gets. Raine’s knees go weak every time she sees him. Apparently they’ve known each for years. My question is: why haven’t they gotten together long time ago? The only reason I can come up with is that the writer wants unsatisfied sexual tension. Not good enough.
The city of Mermeia was interesting. It seems very cosmopolitan, especially for a technology-hampered fantasy land, and when the gondolas were mentioned, I realized that it felt like Venice. I adore Venice. The book also had a event which I love and don’t see enough: a masked ball. Alas, the ball wasn’t milked for everything possible but was fun nevertheless.
The book is lighthearted fun but it does have a lot of characters, factions, and politicking. I enjoyed that but it might get confusing to some.