The Blacktongue Thief (Blacktongue #1) by Christopher Buehlman - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 11 Oct 2021 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 518

I first noticed this novel when Tor was promoting it, and it looked like something I'd enjoy - I've been in a mood for lighter fantasy recently. So, for a change, I read something in the year it was published :-D

What to Expect

It's not humorous fantasy (like say Myth Adventures), and in fact some scenes are rather dark. However, the overall tone is excellently balanced - not falling into funky tropes of either slapstick or overblown grimdark. The story is told in first person by a Kinch, a thief and a rascal but not a degenerate. After choosing the wrong victim to rob, Kinch gets drawn against his will into adventures well outside his usual wont. From there the plot progresses quickly, with many a twist and fantastic magics - from assassins to cats, from goblins to whales.

What I liked

Absolutely loved the world-building: the different societies, cultures, languages, and mythology - all feeling borrowed from our own history for an excellent mix of tantalisingly familiar and yet new. Add an interesting magic system, wars with non-human races, and continent worth of politics and trekking, and you got yourself a very respectable epic quest.

The characters too, are well drawn. Kinch is a relatable fellow, as are the supporting cast. Though told from a male point of view, the world itself and the story are built around strong women in an interesting way (most men between 20 and 60 have died in previous wars with the goblins -- it's the women who won the final round).

What to be aware of

This is a good example of of modern light fantasy - occasionally dark, sometime crude, fast paced, and generally just a good story to pass the time. The story is self-contained, but there are clear indications towards the end that it is part of a larger series.

Felix's Review

Felix certainly enjoyed the story and the character of Kinch. While he finds the concept of thieves guild problematic (and politics are pretty much organised crime anyway), it was at least a well-executed, fresh take on the subject. He'd like to learn more about the magic the Kinch uses for his tricks, but mostly Felix would like to learn that card game, Towers. He feels there are good opportunities for him there.


A very enjoyable read, entertaining and not taxing. I'm certainly looking forward to the next volumes in the series.

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He's the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.

Last modified on Monday, 11 October 2021 06:47

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr