Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Spirit Eater

The Spirit Eater is the 3rd of Rachel Aaron's 5 book series The Legend of Eli Monpress (the first 2 books were The Spirit Thief and The Spirit Rebellion) Although the title is quite apt for the book and follows the naming convention for the series, I just don't like it. It sounds somehow wrong.

The story picks up where The Spirit Rebellion left off. Eli and his 2 companions; swordsman Josef Liechten and demonseed Nico, have escaped from the duchy of Gaol, narrowly avoided the long arm of the law in the person of Spiritualist Miranda Lyonette, and managed to increase Eli's ever growing bounty at the same time. Eli decides that it's time to lie low for a bit, until his past catches up with him. Pele; the daughter of Eli's friend the Shaper Slorn, comes to beg the thief's help. Her father has disappeared, she fears he's met with foul play, and Eli is the only person she trusts to find him.

The hunt is now on. While Eli, Josef and Nico look for Slorn, Miranda Lyonette and her ghosthound Gin are on Eli's trail, and the insane swordsman Barak Sted still wants to fight Josef and his magical blade Heart of War. The audience is treated to magical battles between godlike beings and demons, feats of daring and skill, there are bandits and spirits. This one is a fun ride and there are more hints that Eli and his friends are at the heart of something far more serious than Eli trying to increase his bounty to the unheard of a million gold standards as a monument to the wizard/thief's personal vanity.

Although readers get to see Eli, his friends and their enemies this book is really about demonseed Nico and the terrifying and dark power that resides within the girl. The question of what a demonseed really is, is answered. More about the relationship between Josef and Nico becomes clear. Eli's mysterious past is slowly uncovered, he doesn't appear to have been in the thievery game for himself all that long, which surprised me, and we get to see his mysterious protector; Benehime the Shepherdess. I wonder exactly what game she's playing and what Eli's part in it is.

I appreciated the focus of the story not being totally on Eli. It's a nice change of pace. It was also good to see that villains can survive more than one book with the return of Sted. One new character that intrigued me was the flamboyant Sparrow, who works for the Council of Thrones scheming Sara. His manner of dress and somewhat amoral character put me in mind of Simpkin from Margaret Weis' and Tracey Hickman's Darksword series.

The reveal at the end about Eli's parentage was a real jaw dropper that I did not see coming.

My only real complaint is that I have to wait until May for The Spirit War.

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