My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I normally start a review with a small plot summary, but so much happened in this novel, my plot summary would not be small. Long story short, Loch and her… I want to call it a ragtag band; her collection of accomplices feel thrown together by circumstances and they are, really. So, Loch and her band set out to steal something, and they do. But a lot of stuff happens along the way. For the long story, you’ll have to read the novel. But, as a review isn’t much of a review without some impressions, here are some clues as to what you’ll find along the way.
There is a death priestess. She used to be a love priestess, but things change. She has a talking hammer who used to be a king. (Things change, eh?) The hammer is a member of this band; it talks, it is assigned a share of the proceeds. So is the sixteen year old virgin with the incomparable name ‘Dairy’. I loved Dairy. I cheered when they took him along and made him a part of the crew. I just had a feeling he’d be important—and he was cute. They have a magician who can spin illusions, a safe cracker and her extremely athletic, talented and lethal sidekick, a unicorn (yes, a unicorn) and Loch’s faithful comrade in arms, Kail.
These are the good guys. Then there are the accomplices and if I start listing the villains, we’ll be here all day. There’s a lot going on, but the beauty of this novel is I didn’t get lost once. We’ve all read long and complicated books with a horde of characters and several intertwined plots where we have to flip back a page or a chapter to refresh our memory of who is who and what on earth is going on, right? Patrick Weekes tosses nine balls in the air (this ragtag band) and keeps them spinning while adding plates and dancing a jig. It’s an impressive feat and makes for a rip-roaring good read.
Loch recruits her band after escaping from prison. On her trail are the prison Warden, who will not be made a fool of (but who is, repeatedly), a justicar, who is justice, and the woman responsible for putting her in prison. Several other parties are interested in Loch, including the man responsible for all the evil, the Archvoyant who killed her family and stole the treasure she wants to steal back. This would be enough to carry a novel, but The Palace Job also includes politics and themes: family, redemption, love. Good versus Evil.
Loch is always one step ahead of her cohorts and enemies, a fact I failed to recognise over and over, meaning I perched on the edge of several seats, knuckles white, wondering how she would extract herself and her companions from this mess. Despite the fantastic setting of the novel, however—a world where the palaces cling to an island suspended in the sky on crystals powered by the sun—the plots and foils all seemed plausible. From my perspective, anyway.
The book is also funny, which comes as no surprise. Patrick Weekes is a writer for BioWare’s Mass Effect games which include a grim and gritty storyline underscored with humour, dark and light, and incredible humanity. So, the fact his characters in The Palace Job all feel very real is no surprise, either. Finally, the intertwined plots and separate quests, the reasons this ragtag band clicks together seamlessly, despite the fact it shouldn’t, work. No thread is forgotten and no storyline is left untended, meaning the conclusion is satisfying for all involved.
The Palace Job is a remarkable first novel. I look forward to reading more from Patrick Weekes.
Written for and originally published at SFCrowsnest.