The Thief's Gamble (The Tales of Einarinn #1)
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The Thief's Gamble (The Tales of Einarinn #1)

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  928 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The Secrets of the Shadow-Men

Magic? It's for the rich, the powerful...the Archmage and his elite wizards and cloud-masters.

Livak is not among them. She haunts the back taverns of the realm, careful to appear neither rich nor poor, neither tall nor short . . . neither man nor woman. Obscurity is her protection, thievery her livelihood, and gambling her weakness.

Alas, some...more
Mass Market Paperback, 495 pages
Published August 28th 1999 by HarperPrism (first published 1999)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Good story, fast moving well plotted and a leading character you can't help but like even if you wouldn't want her to have access to your valuables.

I got caught in this book fast and stayed that way. The traditional characters, a party with fighters, wizards, and a thief. Later they run on a different type of wizard (sorcerers?) and an evil cleric, all are well done.

"Good read". (Note the play on words...aren't you impressed? Oh you aren't, sigh, okay.)
The Thief's Gamble is a great traditional fantasy, of the kind that made me fall in love with the genre when I was fourteen years old. Which shouldn't have been a big surprise as the book was actually first published in 1999, which was in the same decade as when I first discovered fantasy. It's epic and fun – none of that modern gritty stuff here – and very much a part of a series. Of course 'modern' fantasy often is part of a trilogy or series as well, but it seems as if these days more of an e...more
The Thief’s Gamble is the debut novel of British fantasy writer Juliet E. McKenna and is the first installment in The Tales of Einarinn epic series. Though it may seem as yet another clichéd fantasy tale, which I keep on coming across lately, the story is infused with ironic and rather intriguing plot twists that mark the book as definitely above the mediocre level.

The plot is focused on the adventures of the joke-cracking, witty and thievish character of Livak, who casts the runes deviously, do...more
Fantasy Review Barn

Sometimes a generic fantasy yarn is just what you need. I love books that try something new, push the limits of the genre, and make me think. But sometimes a quick little romp is ok too, right? Sure it is, and when in that mood there is nothing wrong with ‘The Thief’s Gamble.’ It hits all the nice fantasy tropes, and doesn’t see any reason to bend them, break them, or subvert them. You got your talented thief with a good heart, benevolent wizards, a mysterious stranger in the...more
Jenny J
A very okay beginning to what may turn out to be an interesting series. In spite of Livak, a fierce, independent thief heroine and a cast of quirky wizard-types, something didn't click with me.

The fantasy world has a well-developed history, but the author's writing is so bogged down by her insistence on telling us all about it in DETAIL when what we really need is character development. As it is, the relationships between the characters seem to come out of nowhere.

I like the premise a LOT, and t...more
The beginning of this book was great and hooked me. The main character was intriguing and the world was interesting. However, the middle lagged and I was ultimately disappointed. The plot was a bit all over the place (and sometimes the characters' motivations were not compelling enough), and the world-building was much too heavy--too much information I didn't really need to understand the story. Aside from this, I did like the author's style, even if some readers might find the description in ge...more
Ана Хелс
Из пазара на фентъзи в България бродят десетки призраци на недовършени поредици, надничащи тъжно из някой кашон или сайт със стари книги, обичайно непотърсени и пропуснати от явно претенциозните от гледна точка на много издатели читатели, които биха искали да видят една поредица завършена преди да си я купят. Аз съм за съжаление също от този тип читатели, които купуват и четат само цели поредици, но понякога правя някое и друго изключение , особено в случаите , за които знам че никога, ама никог...more
Ed C
A fantastic debut and a wonderful piece of fantasy. The chracters are vividly formed, and story is engaging and duel-perspective is refreshing, switching from the first person of the main character to the third person of other major characters in a distant location.

I really enjoyed the main character, who was brought to life by a female author, able to both use her own femanininity as experiance to call on, and as a badge of authority, able to paint a female character in ways a male author might...more
This book started out mildly interesting, a seeming regular fantasy 'jaunt' as it were. One of a type I particularly like: The Thief. Something rather satisfying about all that sneaking around, breaking into peoples homes. The cons, the chicancy.

Anyways, what this turns into is... well hard to describe, but ultimately it's a fascinating fantasy book that does some excellent worlds building. It has some excellent things to say on history, historical memory and what that means to people. Things w...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in September 2000.

The world of McKenna's fantasy debut is beginning to recover from the Dark Age caused by the fall of the Empire of Tormalin. In an attempt to rediscover lost secrets of ancient magic, Archmage Planin has sent out agents to buy up late empire documents and artefacts, some of which are still imbued with mysterious powers.

When expert housebreaker Livak overhears some talk of this, she steals an item from a local landowner, only to have the Arch...more
I think it says something about me, (not sure what, but something) that I actually did not like most of the characters in this book. I did not like the vaunted Livak. I think that was my fourth heresy of the day. She seemed to be the typical toughgirl fantasy trope. There was nothing completely unique or interesting about her. That actually goes for the whole book, there isn't really a single memorable scene in the entire thing.
I think it also says something, (this time I'm not even sure what a...more
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It's only because I have a weird thing about not giving up on a book before the end that I actually finished this. Where to even start?

There was far too much 'tell' and far too little 'show' through the whole book, which left me completely cold on the characters. I wasn't convinced when the main character apparently fell in love because it was just dropped on the reader out of nowhere. I didn't care if any of them lived or died, which is saying a lot for someone who cries at the drop of a hat an...more
Eugene  Kisebach
Well, I like the book had a receptive audience. Nothing earth shaking here folks, it's the standard formula: go somewhere, fight some evil, move along down the road, find more evil lurking, and so on. The protagonist being a female who's primarily a thief and a gambling shark (with the prerequisite heart of gold) was nice. "The First Tale of Einarinn" (of 5!, does anyone write a single story anymore?), and I bought the set in a used book shop so I'll forge on...
I have owned this book for donkey's years and found it in a box of books in the garage. I could not recall it so have done a re read.

It is a tale about Livak, a gambler and thief who gets involved with a small of group of wizards and soldiers. They try to recover old artefacts for the school of wizardry and end up getting caught up in the beginning of a war with a war like race from overseas.

It is traditional fantasy fare. The main female character is unusual for the time it was written and the...more
Don't get me wrong I think thefirst 80% of this book was excellent. However, I felt that it suffered from an ending that petered out somewhat. It is a story of two different factions attempting to get their hands on some ancient and powerful magic, what the magic is or does is somewhat shady throughout and never really adequately expained (this is a trilogy so maybe this is something we'll find out later). The story is told through the eyes of Livak, a female burglar, who had inevertently got ho...more
Ahh, well what can I say. This book was a bit different than the average fantasy novel. I very much enjoyed this book. This novel is full of fun, adventure, suspense, action and a tinge of romance. You get a good feel for the characters. Though like some books, it has a lot of background of various religions, gods, season and terminology within the world that is not explained very well that you the reader just have to pick up on. Other than that I don't have to much gripe with this title. It is...more
Ben Arispe
I really enjoyed this one more than I expected. For this author's first book we are introduced to a remarkably complex set of "laws" for magic, only to find out there are other ways of using magic across the ocean! Livak is a lovable character from the start and only grows on you throughout the story. I liked it so much I went out and found the next two books before I was even halfway through this one. (not the usual thing for me, I'll finish the book before hunting the others normally) My only...more
Aug 20, 2008 Chiggins1066 rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Alison
Recommended to Chiggins1066 by: Victoria
With a colorful cast of characters and clever plot, The Thief's Gamble is a delight to read. Follow the thief Livak from petty larceny headlong into a insidious plot that threatens the entire empire. McKenna's treatment of magic and sorcery is especially interesting; wizards wielding earth-shattering powers fight it out on land, in air, and on the high seas. All while Livak uses her cunning skills to outwit her adversaries; a race of mysterious men from remote islands, who seek ancient artifacts...more
Curious novel filled with very intriguing adventure. However, the lack of any sort of character development rubbed me the wrong way. It felt as if the reader was thrown into the middle of an already developed story. Sadly, even throughout the book, I still didn't feel emotionally invested in the majority of the characters and when certain ones would perish it did not mean enough to me to possess an effect. The Thief's Gamble was a very original sci-fy story, but there was not enough substance to...more
Manfred Cruz
Meh. Didn't feel it. Normally I'm all into fantasy/thief/magic/awesomeness but reading this book felt like a chore. Sure there was excitement here and there. Wizards from afar, agents of the Arch-Mage(hyphen or no hyphen?), and master thieves. But it just went on and on! Man I was sitting there eating some Takis waiting for the book to get somewhere and when it did? Dude, like boring! I dunno whatever. A decent enough book I guess. Maybe I'll finish the series some dark night when boredom hits....more
Beth Revers
I liked out thief. She cared about the people she was with, had guts, and integrity. While she had been and could be a thief, mostly she was a gambler. The world was interesting, the system of magic based on affiliate element was interesting, and a long entrenched system of magic coming in contact with one that is unknown provided a great deal of dramatic tension. This was fast paced with a fair amount of violence, but none gratuitous. A good beginning for a fantasy series and one I intend to pu...more
I didn't actually finish this. I picked it up because I liked a short story by the author, but found I didn't really care for the book. It's hard to describe quite why. I found it flat and rather dull, although the premise is interesting. (The main character is a gambler and an occasional thief who tries to sell a stolen object to a wizard. They tell her they won't turn her in to the magistrate if she will steal some objects for them.) I won't be reading anything else by the same author.
2.5 stars rounded up to 3 since it was her debut novel.

Parts were novel (the character Livak and the life on the islands) but others were fairly stock standard (the Big Bad Guy was cruel just because he could).

Part of my low-ish rating is that I'm getting bored with stories where the fate of the world/nation/universe is at stake. I prefer stories where the conflict is on a smaller scale as I find that gives more scope for originality.

Jean Marie
Much enjoyed, quick moving tale. I was worried about this one not passing the Bechdel test (one main female character), but this issues is well-resolved later in the series.
Gavin Greig
I've read a fair bit of fantasy recently and much of it, let's be honest, is tosh. I may enjoy the ideas and the escapism, but there's a lot of mediocre writing.

This book was a breath of fresh air compared to those others. There's a good story, characters with realistic concerns and reactions, and real peril. Unreservedly recommended.
Very dark, but really rather good. The world is quite intricate and sometimes the descriptions of its history get a little overwhelming, but the story itself is pretty good. The pacing does seem a little off, it finishes very quickly, but it's a good enough story that I'll probably keep an eye out for the sequel.
Read this years ago, and really liked it; I've had the other books in the series sitting on my shelves for these years, but never got to them, and now don't remember the book at all, so I want to re-read it and read the others. (Found it at Borderlands on Valencia St in San Francisco used for cheap. :D )
Thief's Gamble is one of my favorite books ever. The characters are well drawn and interesting and not always likable. But they are so well motivated you can see trouble coming long before they can. The plot revolves around a fascinating mystery that keeps you turning pages until way too late.
May 30, 2008 Some rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves well-written speculative fiction
Juliette E McKenna has written probably the most well-rounded speculative fiction-fantasy work i have ever read or critiqued. Not only do her characters step into the real world, the voice, plot development and pace are excellent. this work, and her heroine Livak shall not soon be forgotten.
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Juliet E. McKenna is a British fantasy author. She was born in Lincolnshire in 1965, and studied Greek and Roman history and literature at St Hilda's College, Oxford. She now lives in West Oxfordshire with her husband and sons.

McKenna has written two series of books, The Tales of Einarinn and The Aldabreshin Compass, as well as many short stories and articles. She is currently working on a new ser...more
More about Juliet E. McKenna...
The Swordsman's Oath (The Tales of Einarinn #2) The Gambler's Fortune (The Tales of Einarinn, #3) The Warrior's Bond (The Tales of Einarinn #4) The Assassin's Edge (The Tales of Einarinn, #5) Southern Fire (The Aldabreshin Compass, #1)

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