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As the Crow Flies

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Not every prize is all it’s cracked up to be.

I am Crow, and I am a thief.

Not just any thief, mind, but the best and most famous thief in all the glittering empire. Ask anyone. Ask Tanris, who’s hunted me all these years and never pinched so much as a tail feather.

Ask Baron Duzayan, the scheming wizard who convinced me to steal a myth.

I always said you couldn’t trust a wizard, and Duzayan is a stellar warning against the breed. He took my beautiful Tarsha. He poisoned me. And he gave me to Tanris.

He shouldn’t have done that. I’ll fetch his silly trinket, then I’ll be back to ruin him—Or die trying…

Until, of course, he can think of a better plan…

357 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 10, 2012

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About the author

Robin Lythgoe

8 books221 followers
Robin Lythgoe was born in Maryland, but spent several years in Oregon and did a short stint in upstate New York before winding up in Utah. She married an artist, and together they have four wonderful children. Reading and writing have always been a part of her life, and she is particularly drawn to fantasy. When she was growing up her mother often led expeditions to the library, from which the entire party invariably returned laden with a stack of books guaranteed to make the arms longer. Robin read everything voraciously, and when she finished her stack, she'd start on her mother's… and then her sisters'. Today she writes tales about wizards and magic, fantastical places and extraordinary journeys.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews
Profile Image for A.E. Marling.
Author 11 books299 followers
December 12, 2012
If you love thieves, dragons, and thieves stealing dragons, then you may love As the Crow Flies. The story reminds me of Dresden Files by Jim Butcher in the sense that it's first-person fantasy, but author Robin Lythgoe takes us to another world where the master thief, Crow, is coerced to work alongside the law-man who has dogged him for years. Together they must steal a dragon egg for a wizard or see their loved ones perish. For Crow, "loved ones" of course refers primarily to himself.

Crow and the lawman must weather first each other, second a trek through dangerous lands and a haunted caves and into a temple guarded by blade, sorcery, and an upset dragon broodmother. The banter between the two enemies on their quest kept me smiling throughout the chapters. As we might expect, both men must grow to depend on each other, and Crow grows into a better (and more magical) person, despite his best efforts to stay a self-serving thief.

And let's not forget the thief part. I love a good cloak and purse-cutting dagger, and Crow delivers. He's armed with a silver tongue, sleeping dust, feet that'd make a cat feel ungainly, a razor mind, and a diploma for best-in-class at the school of fine thieving and infiltration (awarded by me). I've read about approximately a billion thieves and even played the vintage first-person-looter games Thief, but Crow still impressed me as a sterling example of skulduggery.
Profile Image for Mike.
Author 47 books154 followers
July 26, 2016
I do love a good rogue, and this book offers one. Though let down a little by editing issues and a lot by the female characters, overall it was enjoyable and well-written if I overlooked those factors.

Editing issues first. It's written in a literate, intelligent style, which makes the problems that much more vexing. There are only a few, but they are pervasive.

Firstly, apostrophe placement in phrases like "servants' entrance" and "merchants' quarter". I've just given the correct placements (since the entrance is used by more than one servant, and there is more than one merchant in the quarter), but the author writes "servant's entrance" and "merchant's quarter". Other examples: bandit's horses, peoples' stomachs (an overcorrection; "people" is what the stomachs belonged to, so it should be "people's"), guard's sashes, brother's knives, owner's food stocks, Ancestor's magic, visitor's menials, neighbor's houses. In all those cases, the noun was plural and so the apostrophe should be after the s. The apostrophe is also missed out of "four months' travel" (you wouldn't say "one month travel" but "one month's travel").

Then there's the almost completely consistent use of "affect" where it should be "effect" (both the verb and noun versions). There's also "poured" for "pored" in one place. "Laying" for "lying" may just be part of the voice of the first-person narrator, though I suspect it's another error by the author.

A number of sentences also change grammatical direction or tense partway through, there are missing minor words like "of" occasionally, and there are several dangling participles ("A professional dancer, I had first set eyes on Tarsha..." - where Tarsha, not the speaker, is the dancer).

It's not like there's an error on every page. I marked about 40 (some of them the same ones repeated), and this is a long book. With very rare exceptions, commas are in the right place, too. But there are enough errors that I found them annoying and distracting from the story.

The story itself is a classic piece of sword-and-sorcery, in which a rogue, accompanied reluctantly by a fighter, goes on a quest to steal an object desired by a wizard. There's the old "I've poisoned you and you have to come back to me for the antidote" trope. The hero collects an accidental, troubling, but highly useful superpower seemingly at random in the course of the adventure.

Does it rise above the tropes? It does, though not all that high at times, and there are a couple of tropes that troubled me more, the ones around the female characters. We have three: The selfish and mercenary seducer/whore/betrayer; the Woman in a Refrigerator, who exists only as a male character's motivation; and the mute (the male protagonist observes that at least she doesn't chatter like other women) who is always crying, devoted to the protagonist for no obvious reason, and annoyingly dependent, though she is surprisingly, and indeed unexplainedly, competent with a crossbow at a couple of moments when that's useful. I'm aware that the author is herself a woman, but these are not promising female characters, to me. In fact, they're a worry. This lost an otherwise enjoyable book its fourth star from me.

The protagonist/narrator is a rogue, and so we expect him not to necessarily be a nice guy (though he tries not to kill people if he can help it). His desire not to become emotionally entangled is understandable, and he protests too much of not caring, so we suspect that he cares more than he lets on... though sometimes it does actually seem like he doesn't care, that the act isn't an act, and at those moments he isn't a very likeable character and I, in turn, don't care quite as much what happens to him.

What does happen to him involves a lot of pain and suffering, as is, again, usual for this type of character in this type of book. When that happens to Locke Lamora, or even Eli Monpress, it means something. Here, it's just another trope.
Profile Image for Michelle.
418 reviews15 followers
December 29, 2021
Gee whiz, this is a fun book! I had to re-read it before starting the just-released and shiny new sequel on my kindle.

This book made me laugh out loud several times! The main characters are great, especially Crow and Not-An-Egg. I love Not-An-Egg!!! Crow is one of those incorrigible, likeable rogues for which I have such a weakness. I never get tired of reading about those!

On to the sequel!
Profile Image for L.K. Evans.
Author 6 books52 followers
January 17, 2015

What a surprisingly fun, engaging, and addictive read. I wasn’t planning on liking this book. I guess I hadn’t heard much and my expectation was low. So when I found myself irritated by interruptions, I realized it was blowing past those low expectations.

Be warned, the plot isn’t terribly unique. A thief is blackmailed into helping a baron so as to save his kidnapped love. So why did I love it so much?

First and foremost, I can honestly say I loved the voice of Crow. That’s what drew me in. That’s what made me want to keep picking this up. So that translates into a very well written book, in my opinion. The voice of Crow was addictively funny and solidly consistent even as his character grew during his travels. I loved the dry, cynical, realistic, clever, selfish, selfless, and sarcastic nature of Crow, which played wonderfully against Tanris’s altruistic personality. The two had a sort of chemistry that worked together. It wrestled quite a bit of smiles out of me.

The other part of Crow’s character that I much enjoyed was his vulnerability. He had fears, and I love that in characters. I love to see them break down and not always be the stalwart heroes standard in fantasy books. Tanris had his moments as well.

Sadly, I had the plot figured out from the get go. I had already foreseen quite a few turns the book took. I don’t think many jaws will drop at some of the revelations. That’s not to say the book wasn’t enjoyable. Again, it was Crow’s voice that kept me entranced, not necessarily a complicated plot. Also, there were some definite slow parts. The farther along in the book we got, the more I noticed lengthy descriptions popping up. That’s not to say they weren’t there in the beginning, but since some of it is slow, I noticed these descriptions a bit more toward the end. The journey Crow takes is quite long. There’s some adventure in it for sure, but it is long and therefore slow in some parts. But the more addicted I became to Crow, the less and less I could put it down, even through some slow sections.

The world isn’t terribly complicated nor explored in depth. For me, I read for characters so it wasn’t a hinderance for me at all. However, those into heavy world building probably won’t find satisfaction in this book. What we were given was clear and simple and fit my tastes just fine.

I have high hopes that there might be a sequel. This is not part of a series, but I would love to read another adventure of Crow, Tanris, and Girl (yes, that’s what they call her for reason that would become clear if you decided to pick this up). Speaking of her, I actually quite enjoyed her character. I found her humorous in her own way and she added some comical moments to the book.

So overall, I would highly recommend reading the entire sample available on Amazon. If the voice of Crow appeals to you, I can’t recommend this enough. It was long, but fun and witty with a nice dose of adventure.

You can see this and other reviews on my website: http://booksbylkevans.com
Profile Image for Traci Loudin.
Author 7 books53 followers
June 4, 2015
Proof that indie authors can create compelling stories with cool endings and no typos! This is a rather unique fantasy, with a heist story embedded in it. While it's told from first person, I enjoyed the narrator's voice enough to keep reading.

One thing that bothered me about the book is that the two main characters are male, the villain is male, and the only female character who's not tertiary is a mute who cries constantly. I thought maybe part of that was just the perception of the somewhat selfish and narcissistic narrator, but no. The other female characters are minor and mostly act as motivation for the main characters. But I appreciated there wasn't any sappy romance in the book, at least.
Profile Image for Bernhard.
84 reviews8 followers
February 4, 2022
Hold my beer, I had a déjà vu reading this. The first book I read this year was The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman. There Kinch, the blacktongue thief, was blackmailed into a dangerous quest.
Here the highly talented thief Crow is also coerced into a dangerous quest. But hang on, this is not where the similarities end.
In my review to The Blacktongue Thief I wrote:
Holy moly! I enjoyed the hell out of the first-person narrative. Kinch, the blacktongue thief, has such a unique, snarky, refreshing and funny voice. Pure genius. Accompanying him through his quest was a blast.

Exactly the same I could write about As the Crow Flies if I replace "Kinch, the blacktongue thief" with Crow.
But contrary to The Blacktongue Thief in As the Crow Flies I really cared what happened to the characters and I was fully immersed into the story. It is less dark and contains less (if any) f-bombs than Buehlman's novel.
There are some sections which I think could have benefited from a little more editing, especially in parts brimming with action, though not terribly many.
Overall indie author Robin Lythgoe did a great job here, it was a fantastic ride. Even though there exists a recently published sequel titled Crow's Nest, As the Crow Flies works very well as a standalone (I guess it was meant to be one when published back in 2012). I'm already excited to delve into another adventure with Crow soon.
Profile Image for M. Joseph Murphy.
Author 10 books54 followers
June 17, 2013
As the Crow Flies is a solid, entertaining epic fantasy. It hits all the right notes at exactly the right time. I can easily recommend this took to anyone who likes the fantasy mixed with comedy, tragedy, magic, dangerous heists and, yes, a dragon.

I received As the Crow Flies in exchange for a review. That means I have to read the book whether I like it or not. I read through fairly quickly mostly because I couldn't put the book down.

Brief Synopsis

Crow is a thief pulling one last heist before he retires with the lover of his live, Tarsha. Unfortunately for him, realizes after the fact that he stole from a wizard, Baron Duzayan. Tarsha is captured and Crow is poisoned. To free her and get the antidote he must do the impossible: steal a dragon's egg. Duzayan doesn't trust Crow, of course, so he sends along Tanris, a member of the city guard who has hounded Crow for years.

What I liked

Let's start with characters. As the Crow Flies is written in first person subjective. We hear the story through the mind of Crow. He is a fully rendered, complete character. He's humorous and witty as befitting a thief. However, he's also not as strong and ruthless as he likes to think he is. He's flawed but incredibly likable. I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him I love him. I dare you to feel differently.

The plot is handled well. Like most good fantasy stories it is a classic tale told through fresh eyes. Pacing is also handled well with no real "dragging" points. As a writer, I also appreciate the way Lythgoe follows Chekov's "Gun on the Mantlepiece" . It states that if you introduce something early in the work it MUST be important for something later on. Without giving any spoilers I can promise you every single thing that is introduced it important. She also occasionally reminds the reader of items that will become important later just so you don't forget them. It never feels overdone or unnatural. Instead it helps build tension and remind the reader of the stakes.

The ending is also completely satisfying. Every significant question raised in the book is answered and every character has a well-defined ending. That doesn't mean everyone lives happily ever after but you definitely know what happens. It also asks a few other questions which leaves me hungry for more Crow stories in the future.

Lythgoe also expertly works in worldbuilding information. She never veers into endless paragraphs of exposition. Instead, every time she reveals worldbuilding information it is believable and in context. She reveals enough to give you the scope and flavor of the world without turning it into an almanac.

What I didn't like

Some of the writing, specifically in the first 1/4 of the book, could use another edit. Several paragraphs are not as tight or cohesive as they could be. I noticed two spelling errors and there were a few formatting issues. The formatting issues could be related to the method in which I received the book and may not occur if purchased directly through Amazon.

However, none of the issues were significant enough to bring me out of the story and diminish the experience.

In Conclusion

I strongly recommend As the Crow Flies to any fans of fantasy. I also recommend it to writers of fantasy to use as an example proper worldbuilding, pacing and execution of Chekov's Gun.
Profile Image for Tammy J Rizzo.
77 reviews4 followers
June 22, 2013
Full disclosure: I received this book free in exchange for a review. Having read the book, here's my honest review:

I thought this book rocked! The main character, Crow, was smart and snarky, and very funny. Living in his head was a real hoot. Of course, he seemed to have superhuman stamina, keeping on keeping on with injuries that would have put me in a hospital bed, but hey, it is quest fantasy - you expect your heroes and your antiheroes to be, you know, heroic.

Crow's characterization was brilliant. I loved him, and I loved his story. I loved his smartassery, and his matter-of-factness about thieving and climbing sheer rock walls and such like. I loved his snarking at every little thing that was going wrong, even as he praised all the gods that he was so beloved of them that they constantly smiled down on him. I loved his naming convention for things that he felt needed names. I loved his banter with his best enemy, Tanris, the guard who had been trying for so long to catch him. I just loved everything about Crow, and his story, and the world that Robin created for him. The story was well-crafted and kept me guessing as to just HOW they would get to the most-likely-though-apparently-impossible ending.

There was only one false note with me, as a reader, and that was that Crow complained about everything about his first time on a horse, except he didn't even mention being saddle sore. Of course, he had lots of other things on his mind to complain about, but it just felt like the saddle soreness would have been the tiny little topper to top everything off, you know? I've been on a horse, and I missed that detail, but not enough to stop reading. The rest of his story was just too enthralling to let one false note ruin the symphony!

I would certainly recommend this book, even without the saddle sores - it's a funny, witty, tight adventure with a thoroughly enjoyable narrator in Crow, and it's well worth the time and money you'll put into reading it.
Profile Image for Nate Philbrick.
Author 8 books107 followers
February 8, 2016
Fantastic story with one of the most entertaining protagonists I've read in a long time. The witty dialogue and wry humor is brilliant. My only "complaint" is that the plot pacing felt a bit slow at times. I seriously recommend this book!
Profile Image for C.M. Lance.
Author 7 books14 followers
October 18, 2016
An excellent book. Fans of Jonathon Stroud's Bartemeus or Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan will love Crow. He's a witty, confident, competent scoundrel. His companions, although unwanted by Crow-he works alone, add an extra texture to the story.
Profile Image for Patricia Reding.
Author 5 books161 followers
August 16, 2013
AS THE CROW FLIES tells the tale of Crow, a witty, sarcastic thief who steals your heart from the earliest pages. Truly, there are so many things to love about As the Crow Flies, that it is hard to know where to begin.

The author’s characters are neatly drawn and are given quirks and manners of speech that are unique and consistent. The reader will never forget that Crow is a thief, for if not his first, then his last thought in nearly every situation in which he finds himself, will be Crow’s consideration of what he can do to “re-arrange” the goods of others. Likewise, Tanris, a man who for years had pursued Crow to bring Crow to justice, but who is now Crow’s partner in a quest, is always the consummate law-and-order man. We get glimpses into his personal life from time to time that make him more real and more loveable as events unfold.

I note that As the Crow Flies is told in first-person. I must say that I’ve rarely read a story told from a single character’s perspective that didn’t leave me aware of that fact all the while--but Robin made it seem effortless and it was, throughout, seamless, consistent and fun!

One of the things I liked best about As the Crow Flies, was the author’s wit. Robin is quick! From the opening scene when Crow refers to the wife of the target of his intended theft in the same manner in which does her husband (“'Your turn, Darling,'" Crow says as he prepares to tie her up) to the last when Crow realizes that his scathing look at Tanris did not turn Tanris to ashes (“but rather produced a curious noise I realized was laughter”), the author kept me laughing.

All that said—here is my favorite thing about As the Crow Flies: it has to do with voice. Have you ever heard an old movie running on your television in the background and you suddenly said, “I know who that is! That’s. . .that’s. . .that’s. . . ,” and you search your memory for where it is you had heard the voice before. Or, it happened to me when I took my son to NYC some years ago. We picked up last minute tickets for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with John Lithgow, and Leo Norbert Butz (and laughed until we were sick)! When the female lead first entered the stage and spoke, my head jerked up! The voice was so distinct. There was no mistaking who she was or where I had heard that voice before. “That’s Sherie Rene Scott!” I gasped to my son. “I didn’t know she was going to be in this! I saw her as Princess Amneris in Aida! She’s fabulous!” Well, I tell this story because voices often seem to blend in with others—but once in awhile one comes along that has a unique resonance, a startling clarity, a rhythmic musicality—or something—that makes it stand out from amongst the crowd. It is a rare thing—but now and again, an author will come along with a voice that you think you will never mistake for another. This is what Lythgoe has—voice. It comes from a choice of playful words and phrases, like “the steady rising of the sun was making my hiding place less and less ‘hidey’ by the moment,” or “eyeballs and elixers and other wizardly knickknacks,” or “careful, Crow, you fly a very fine line,” or “victims of recent precipitation,” or “there were personal belongings amongst the crowd to rearrange.” The voice is also heard in Crow’s way of naming things (Horse? Girl? Not-an-Egg?). Finally, there is unique voice in the character’s internal thoughts, such as in “at least we could enjoy spring on the return trip—flowers budding, birds singing, poison creeping inexorably through one’s system, and all of that,” or “ending my life as a snack did not come high on my list of glorious ways to die” or when referring to his new hat that had already managed to become mangled, Crow notes that “only a few short minutes in my possession and already it was achieving character.” Yes, Robin has voice—a voice I want to hear sing again.

Finally, I must say that I’ve read a fair number of indie-published works of late. This work stands out as one that any major publisher worth its salt ought to know what to do with—publish it and promote it.

Well done, Robin! Very, very well done, indeed!

(For more about Robin and my interview of her, see: http://www.oathtaker.com/2/post/2013/....)
Author 1 book3 followers
November 24, 2013
This tale commences with the protagonist,’The Crow’ narrating his own story as he sees it, with a supercilious attitude to his life and his situation. The fast paced action springs to life as Crow tries to escape from his latest bout of thievery. Not the smartest person to steal from, a notorious Wizard that is masquerading as the mysterious Baron Duzayan. But, the things men do for love, you see, they must show their metal and build bridges, thinking this is how to win loves heart. In this case it lands the Crow in a compromising and deadly position whereby he must work for this Baron and take on a perilous journey with his nemesis Tanris. A strict no nonsense military man that is also tangled in this sticky web. Tanris has been trying for years to capture the elusive crow. He is the only blemish on his near perfect military record and will do anything to wipe this slate clean.

The journey is full of surprises and entanglements which leads to the introduction of many support characters. These consist of sorcerers, ancient ghosts from the past, the wise but foolish sidekicks, the young innocent, the hypocrite, the religious fanatics, the followers, the common enemy and the cannon fodder. This enables scenes with the usual magic, mayhem, mythical creature’s, unanswered questions and fears, displays of vulnerabilities, weaknesses and strengths of character. There are demonstrations of purity of goodness and the other end of the spectrum of humanity. Great action sequences secrete themselves throughout the story, where usually the hero ends up the worse for wear.

There is the main plot that of the crow and Tanris journey, but woven into this is the subplot of the Baron Duzayan’s mystery. The story line has a familiar tone to it, orphan boy raised on the streets, a loveable rogue, takes on a task over his head, chased by the hard line military man, but this is where it stops. The plot then diverts to uniqueness and originality in thought, it is both refreshing and stimulating to the mind. The puzzles are intriguing as the reader is fed bread crumbs throughout, keeping you turning the pages in anticipation and wonder. Believability, well, that is a fine line, escapism in purpose and intent? This reader reserves judgement on this, after all it is fantasy.

There is equal balance between plots and the plethora of characters where they are infused into a world that is rich and inviting for the reader to explore. The introduction of the self narrating was handled expertly and then seamlessly throughout the story it transfers from narrative to descriptive to conversational writing styles in no particular order. The expert word building and sentence structure allowed for the styles to blend so well, there are enough voice, tone and delivery differences within each of the characters to allow for delineation.

The main characters Crow and his inner circle/team would grow over the journey into well rounded three dimensional characters. However the protagonist is a contradiction to this thought. Although, yes he matured, learnt some harsh lessons, started growing a conscience, found friendship and perhaps love, there was his one trait that remained static, that of relieving everyone of their possessions if it suited his needs. This innate need of this drove this reader to distraction at times.

The intellectual, emotional and aesthetic qualities of the writers’ style allowed for great flow and rhythm for this story, where time rich bantering between the main characters, infused humour and wit with some laugh out loud moments. This reader loved the simplicity of the support characters names, i.e. Girl, Cat and Not an egg. The last one still has this reader shaking her head in disbelief, and as Tanris discussed, it is embarrassing for a baby male dragon to be known as Egg! The characters all maintained their likeability especially as friendships grew, first out of necessity, then from respect and finally from compassion, warmth and love. The journey within this book showed human failure with social and moral issues, at times mirroring today’s plights.

It was easy to be drawn in and feel part of the story not just an observer. Well written, very enjoyable and waiting for the next adventure of the crow and his trusty sidekicks.

Profile Image for Leah Speller.
398 reviews3 followers
September 5, 2017
What an adventure!! From the very beginning to the very end! I loved the main character, Crow. He had a way about him that matched his monicker. Because of this, I fell in love with this character immediately. His actions, the way he thought about his next move and what he thought about those chasing him made me laugh. Because of this, I was caught in the story hook, line, and sinker. I could not wait to find out what was going to happen and how he was going to get his big payback.

Robin has told this story so well. It makes me feel like I opened the door was grabbed by the neck to sit down in the most luxurious chair before a fire to sit as long as I wanted. Needless to say, I think I sat on the edge of the seat more than curled up in it because the adventure was so stunning. The descriptions so real I felt every part of it. As much as I would like to tell you I won't because it is your adventure waiting to read not to read it here. This is just to let you know it was a good book and worth your time.

Technically I will say there were a couple of sentences that were a bit weird structurally but I can't remember where they were. There wasn't that many, though you might want to go through to see about fixing them.

I loved all the characters and how each had a part of the story line that weaved into one great story totally worth reading. This will be one that I will return to again and again. Though I will say it was left with an opening...will there be more with Crow and Tanis?

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, through Reading Deals, so I could give an honest review.
Profile Image for Kristie Kiessling.
Author 3 books9 followers
March 6, 2013
An excellent, epic read! Lythgoe's world building excites. Her attention to detail is spot on. This tale is full of magic and mythical creatures sure to intrigue and delight. There is just enough mystery to engage the audience and keep pages turning until the satisfying end. The action is fast-paced, the characters believable to a wonderful degree.

Crow is so arrogant and sometimes annoying! I didn't like him at first, but I was captured by the story and his supporting, well rounded cohorts (especially Tanris). Once their journey was underway, I was hooked, eager to see how men at such odds, at the opposite ends of the law - and occasionally at one another's throats - could work together to a common end.

As for the bad guy, he proves time and again that he is no cheap villain. He is absolutely the wrong man to steal from!

As the Crow Flies serves up action and adventure, wit and wizardry. I would love to see a sequel, but whatever she writes about, I can't wait for Lythgoe's next book. I hope it will be soon!
Profile Image for Jan farnworth.
1,285 reviews83 followers
September 21, 2015
As the Crow Flies is a solid, entertaining epic fantasy. It hits all the right notes at exactly the right time. I can easily recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy mixed with comedy, tragedy, magic, dangerous heists and, yes, a dragon. The first-person feel of this book totally fits and is exactly what you need when you want a fun, light read.

The whole time you are turning the pages just to see what blundering accident or adventure will befall Tanris, Crow, Girl and Not an Egg. You are left at the end of the book hoping that Robin will continue the story and answer a few of the questions, which is exactly the way I like it, because then I can look forward to more adventures -- at least I hope more adventures.
Profile Image for Férial.
421 reviews37 followers
August 26, 2014
Oh it was such a good read ! Crow, the main character, deserves to be aquainted with.

I love how the author has brought the changes in his (Crow's...are you following ?) way of thinking, of dealing with others. It was done delicately. The descriptions were not boring and apart from the first part (before the journey starts) that I found a bit too long (though enjoyable), I have loved this read.

If you want a moment (or 10) of fun, action, magic (and deep feelings), I recommend this read.

One thing Mrs Lythgoe (if you read me). Will there be a sequel ? The Druids ? What are they ? Girl ? What/who is she ? Not-an-Egg (oh THAT is a great name) and the bond ? ...

In short, I'd love to have more. I'll pray to the god of writers if it's what it takes ;)
Profile Image for Leeland Artra.
Author 7 books102 followers
July 2, 2014
A twisted tail of a master thief's "retirement." Wizard, Guard, Cat, Horse, Girl, and Fun (for the reader) poor Crow. I love playing hyper intelligent thieves in video games and role playing games. And Crow, the novels 'hero' is just such a character, at the pinnacle of his career. Just as he is ready to retire into a life of luxury well earned everything goes sideways. Wizards, ghosts, arch-rival detective/guard/soldier, cats, horses, rain, and horribly annoying events spin out of his control. The end is just as surprising a twist of fate as the events Crow is tossed into by the very gods that must love him.
Profile Image for KK.
132 reviews10 followers
January 28, 2014
Crow is a freelance thief, possibly the best freelance thief ever, or so he would like you to believe. How then, has he been forced to take a seemingly impossible job from a wickedly devious man? Lives are at stake -- most importantly Crow's own life -- and the clock is ticking.

This is SUCH a nice book! The pace is just right, the humour is frequent and well placed, and the struggling relationship between Crow and Tanris is very entertaining.

If you like the nicer side of fantasy, and/or authors like Terry Pratchett, you will love As The Crow Flies.
Profile Image for Alex Stargazer.
Author 6 books18 followers
August 31, 2015

As the Crow Flies was recommended to me. This is unusual: it is usually I who recommend books, especially if they’re my own. In this instance, the opposite occurred—I was recommended a book, the recommendee being none other than the author herself. I suppose she would be a little opinionated in that though.

Anyway: onto the book. It’s actually rather good—and I don’t say that lightly, being an angry competitor fellow writer. I was most immediately struck by the writing (indeed it was why I was so kind as to review this) so let’s start with that.


Robin’s style is a curiously formal one; it is rare that one finds formal writing—even in self-proclaimed literary fiction, let alone ‘mainstream’ works—which was, therefore, in itself unusual. It speaks well of my own less-than-casual style. But enough of me!

Robin’s style is also a descriptive one: the details of the world are described beautifully—everything from the ivory figurines, the various and eclectic jewellery, and the manner of the attire—and in wonderful depth. One can easily imagine the sweeping rooflines of Marketh, the vast and desolate fields of the darker country (I found it eerily reminiscent of the Welsh black mountains) and the frightening but awe-inspiring presence of the dragons. As you can perhaps guess, I was quite pleased about this.

What I wasn’t pleased about? The lack of genuine aesthetic prose. Oh, yes; the prose is detailed—and Robin isn’t afraid to bring out the loquacious and the asperity—but there’s never a poetic element to it, never a sense of fully escaping the pages and entering your heart.

Which is a pity. But, there you go.

Aside from that, the minutiæ of the writing and the execution are worth detailing. Robin’s prose inevitably favours hypotaxis over parataxis, though at times I wished there were more of the latter—it would have worked well in giving the dark country a truly frightening portrayal, and in giving a sense of impetus and energy to some of the action scenes.

In terms of pacing, all was good: there were never times when one was left with a sense of ennui, nor did the action ever overwhelm the senses. I would however point towards the end of the tale, whereby the anticipation and raw energy that should have preceded the finale was instead broken up by far too many minor action scenes. When the finale did come, it was somewhat of an anti-climatic start.

All of this, however, leads me to what is arguably the strongest aspect of this work: the plot.


As the Crow Flies begins with our darling protagonist—aptly named Crow—attempting to... purloin a certain jewel, from none other than one secret wizard: Baron Duzayan. To be honest, I think it a disappointing start to an otherwise excellent tale.

Yes: there was action. Crow’s powers of theft, espionage, and roof-climbing are really quite remarkable; more foolish souls might even think him possessed of magic, though that is of course nonsense. At least for now. Impressive though they may be, the beginning fails to distinguish itself from more common, less remarkable tales.

Why? Well, because there isn’t a hint of the true scope and power of this novel. Crow, for all his charms, is just a thief. And it is Baron Duzayan’s remarkable wizardly powers that ought be hinted at, and far more insidiously than Robin does. The blurb, also, falls fowl to the same mistake.

The beginning aside, the tale then progresses to have our darling protagonist beaten—I love a good beating; did I mention? It makes for excellent empathic bonding—and is then placed in a dark, deep, cell. Crow, as his namesake suggests, is claustrophobic. Suffice to say that it made for amusing reading.

Once the imprisonment is over, however, Crow is given an ultimatum: help Duzayan procure a dragon’s egg (apparently fictional) or die a miserable death owing to Duzayan’s poison. Thus, we proceed to the real meat of this book.

The journey that Crow undertakes is a compelling one. We travel across vast and (relatively) varied landscapes; we meet bandits, a curious mute girl, and a mysterious old seer; and Crow is forced to travel through a strange underground cave, where dark echoes of a tragedy continue unabated. Here, he is temporarily possessed by the ghosts of the ‘Ancestors’—people burned alive in a terrible war of many years past.

And this is where things start to get interesting. At first, the Ancestors do no more than allow Crow a strange form of magic; he is able to sense emotions, to feel conscious minds, and to detect dishonesty. Later, they begin to speak; to bring long-forgotten knowledge to fore.

I could detail many more fascinating events. I could speak of the dragon, the strange order of magic-wielding priests that guard it, and a great deal more besides; but suffice to say: As the Crow Flies never fails to keep one’s guard up. There is always hidden danger, always unfathomable possibilities; there is action, and energy, and all that it should be.

In short: it is the archetypal High Fantasy novel. And as befits this wonderful genre, the age-old qualities are there—there are creatures of myth and wonder, powers strange and otherworldly (literally), and of course: there are strange new worlds to explore...

World Building

If the plot impresses with its grandeur and its conviction, then the world building comes up short. Sure: there’s detail—there’s imagination, too, in the manner of dress, the architecture (mediaeval and exotic among it equally) and in the cuisine.

But there’s an element of originality that’s missing. There is nothing untowardly remarkable about the technology, or of the language, or even—yes—the architecture. The world feels like another mediaeval fantasy world. Don’t get me wrong: mediaeval fantasy worlds are great—I wouldn’t have written a book in one if they weren’t—but this one is just a little unexceptional.

The religion, also, is elucidated upon: Crow regularly thanks the gods of thieves, of luck, and all manner of other deities. But I would have enjoyed a stronger elucidation still; I wondered at how the temples looked, what manner of rituals they performed, even their creation myths. In short: I wanted more.

Still, I did enjoy the descriptions of luxurious items, of beautiful designs, and of all the things that gave this world detail.


Crow is a wonderful creation. He is at once intelligent, and charming; both boisterous, and thoughtful; and erudite, yet accessible. I found his eye for detail entrancing—and his wits admirable. Crow always seems to have a devilish plan in store; he is able plan, to calculate, and to execute daring stunts with great alacrity.

Tanris, his former enemy turned friend, was also wonderfully well fleshed. He possesses great determination, analytic intelligence (as opposed to Crow’s cunning), and he is also very... human. We feel the pain of an imprisoned wife as if it were his. His mannerisms are unique; he always has a glare, a snarl, a gesture of compassion—he is always quintessentially Tanris.

We are also introduced to a girl, who is mute. This is unfortunate. For a long while, all she does is tag along—at most she is a distraction, more often a nuisance.

But Girl (as Crow takes to name lackadaisically) is more than that. Her muteness makes her easy to dehumanise—her regular crying fits not really helping, nor her simple name—but as time progresses, we begin to learn that she is all too human. She lost her only relatives to a vicious bandit attack. And she cannot voice that trauma. Who would be surprised at her crying; who wouldn’t cry, with no other release?

Robin even goes as far as to create the vestiges of an incipient romance. Girl’s surprising abilities—she is a deadly marksman, a fighter, and also an excellent cook (we love a good cook)—certainly do account for this. Crow’s fearless antics attract her; Girl’s enviable competence attract him.

Is it love? Not yet. But maybe.

I have however noticed that there is a lack of female characters throughout. This is surprising—for a modern fantasy author, and a woman at that—but is not that inconceivable, seeing as to how the tale usually deals with wizards, barons, and the powerful. For whatever reason (be it cultural, physiological, or both of those) women generally don’t populate that section of the population—especially in what is effectively still a mediaeval world.

(I guess it would be more correct to call it an Early Modern world, but I digress.)

Speaking generally, Robin has a perchance for characterisation: she can detail characters through their subtle mannerisms, through their internal struggles, and through some apt description. I cannot fault her in this.

My thoughts have been somewhat confused through this review. Allow me to be clarify, therefore: As the Crow Flies is an excellent, though imperfect, example of High Fantasy. The plot begins uncertainly; but it grows to occupy the mind with feverish insistence, and culminates in a very grand finale. The characters are well-portrayed and human. The writing is formal, accomplished, though at times requiring a little revision—shorter sentences, more parataxis.

All in all, I am glad to have read it. I await the sequel; for dragons and dark magic, my appetite was always insatiable.

Rating: 4/5

Profile Image for Matthew Keith.
Author 19 books26 followers
June 18, 2013
From http://matthewkeithreviews.blogspot.com

As the Crow Flies is, without a doubt, one of the greatest epic fantasy adventures I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The story follows a professional thief whose name, appropriately, is Crow. Flitting from rooftop to rooftop, he plies his trade in a large city without fear or reservation. He is a master of his craft, self-proclaimed as such, but we also see through the merits of his success that he truly is a gifted little prowler. Mostly, though - self-proclaimed. I do not think Crow could ever overstate his own greatness; there is no shortage of ego within our unlikely hero.

The story opens with Crow in mid-heist at the home of a rich Baron. Crow has been told of a valuable pearl that could allow him to retire in style, allowing him to end his days of thievery and live out the rest of his years with his beloved, a dancer whose beauty is unmatched in Crow's eyes.

Almost, but not quite, Crow manages to pull off the robbery. He is captured by the Baron that he attempted to rob and is forced into completing an impossible task in return for his freedom. Paired up with a man whom Crow despises, the same man who captured Crow for the Baron, the unlikely pair set off on a journey... and the plot is born.

Let me say, first - when Robin sent this novel to me I had almost no interest in reading it. I enjoy fantasy adventures normally, but the cover made me think that it would be a wordy, poetic attempt at a "deep" fantasy. Yes, I judged a book by it's cover. And boy, was I wrong.

Robin has created a likeable, despicable, arrogant, caring, flawed, and talented character in Crow. All contradictions - I'm aware of this. He is full of contradictions as an individual, which Robin has done a marvelous job of bringing to full life. You know Crow by the time this story has ended - I already miss him!

What I enoyed most about this novel was that the fantasy element was subtle. Yes, there are thieves and dragons and wizards and swords and such, but Robin doesn't throw those things at you without explanation. Instead, the world she creates is grounded in a reality that is easy to acclimate to (for us as readers) and as elements of magic or the fantastic are introduced, we are ready for them. Like The Hobbit, this adventure will appeal to a broad audience because it doesn't geek-ify its fantasy roots and Crow is so very likeable as the story's hero.

Enthusiastically, I give this story 5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Moira Katson.
Author 34 books93 followers
January 5, 2014
As the Crow Flies is, at the heart of it, an adventure tale centered around the scrappy and self-sufficient Crow, a renowned thief. His enemies (to wit, a law-keeper named Tanris), his major weakness (his love for a dancer named Tarsha), and one fairly psychotic wizard (a noble named Duzayan), have all collided, sending Crow traipsing off into the middle of nowhere after a magical artifact, with a poison-ensured deadline on his activities, and his least favorite person (Tanris again) as an unwilling participant. In a nutshell, all the two have to do is get to the middle of nowhere without getting killed by bandits, find the artifact, defeat the incredibly powerful guardians of the artifact, bring it back to Duzayan, and hope that he decides not to just kill both of them and their loved ones.

Unless, as the synopsis points out, they come up with a better plan…

What I enjoyed: As the Crow Flies has plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes. There were several events I did not see coming at all, which helped keep the story interesting and fresh. The dialogue was snappy (if occasionally veering a bit modern) and our protagonists well-rounded characters. Duzayan, if he did not possess unexpected depths and backstory, was a very good power-crazed, diabolical maniac. The story wrapped up on a satisfying note, with plenty of room for more adventures, but no cliff-hangers!

What I enjoyed a little less: I got a little muddled with how much time was passing at any given point in the book, and there was a definite cluster of events at the very end while everything tied together, which oddly caused a bit of a slog, meaning that the ending was not as snappy as the rest of the book. In addition, I felt like one or two characters had disappointing endings; I had high hopes for one of them in particular, who disappeared about halfway through and returned as a minor antagonist. Oops.

Overall: I heartily recommend this book. I had a great time reading it, the issues were very minor, and there were were some touching moments. Also, there’s a lot of potential for sequels. Lythgoe is a talented author, and I am looking forward to her new releases! (She participated in NaNoWriMo, so we can hold out hope that sequels will be on their way shortly!)
Profile Image for Raymond Bolton.
Author 8 books122 followers
August 12, 2016
Do you love bad boys? Do you love scoundrels? Robin Lythgoe's As the Crow Flies will certainly give you reason to. After her cat burglar, Crow, is caught and thrown into prison, his heretofore ideal life of love and reapportioned riches is transformed forever. For better or worse is for you to find out as his imprisoner, a wizard of the most evil bent, sends him on a mission to steal a dragon's egg. To insure Crow will indeed find, then return with the object of his quest, the wizard poisons him and supplies him with barely enough antidote to both reach the land where the egg is supposed to be found, then return with it. To add insult to injury, the wizard sends with him the man who hounded and captured him. Related by Crow himself, the tale, filled with banter and the self-assured burglar's observations, increases in pace until the last drop of blood is shed at the book's unpredictable conclusion.

If you like stories filled with both intrigue and humor, with only enough violence to add urgency to the telling, this book is for you.
Author 24 books8 followers
June 7, 2013
Rating: 9.0/10.0
Review Notes: Robin Lythgoe’s As the Crow Flies is a mystical adventure that will take you on the ride of your life. You follow the main characters through a several months journey to do the impossible while making sure he, himself, doesn’t die from poison. I absolutely loved this book. I rated it a 9 out of 10 because I couldn’t put it down. This book came with me everywhere I went and while I had a spare minute, I was reading this book. Magic, Wizards, and more? What else could you ask for? I highly recommend this book, and have put it in my favorites.

Review by IABookReviews.com
Profile Image for Melissa.
967 reviews42 followers
July 21, 2013
****Received this from Goodreads first reads****

I think this book may appeal to a lot of people, I am not one of those people though. I think that the writing is good and it is a well told story but the characters didn't draw me in and I was ready for the story to be over before they made it half way to where they were going.

I think that the main character, Crow, was meant to be a more likable character than I found him to be. Making a conceited ass likable is possible but not all authors can do it. Instead of growing on me I found myself wishing he would just die already. I enjoyed Tanris's character and Girls but they were not enough to keep me interested in the book.
Profile Image for Sarah Lawrence.
3 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2015
I think it might have just been me, but I had a hard time getting through the first few chapters. It seemed like a lot was going on and I had go back and read a few sections twice. Once they hit the cave and all the magical intrigue started I really started getting into the story...and from there I was hooked. There was a big finale and a hook for a second book! So I've told her husband, who I work with, to have her get on it!! Lol. I can't wait.
Profile Image for Gregory Close.
Author 2 books55 followers
September 21, 2015
I will copy the Amazon review later, but suffice it to say "read this book and you shall enjoy all he depth and fun and wonder that Fantasy has to offer, while chuckling at the wit and losing yourself in the haracters"

Yeah. That good.
Profile Image for Anna.
230 reviews
February 12, 2013
I am not a huge fan of fantasy. Never really have gotten into any of the ones I've had to read or tried to read. However, this book has made me rethink fantasy novels. It was well done. The characters were great and I really enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Marla.
39 reviews39 followers
December 26, 2012
this book was amazing. I loved it from start to finish and it leaves you wanting more. Robin is amazing at describing the picture so it is real in your head. Crow,the main character, was a lovable thief with a wonderful sense of humor. I can't wait to read the next book Robin writes.
Profile Image for Mel Horne.
240 reviews1 follower
April 1, 2013
Many thanks to A E Marling for the recommending this book to me, I did enjoy it. I found it a little wordy at the start, but it grew on me, then it grew some more and in the end I was very pleased to have visited that world and met those characters , and I would like to do so again!
Profile Image for Jamie Maltman.
Author 4 books24 followers
April 11, 2015
I throughly enjoyed this tale told by a very opinionated and sarcastic thief named Crow. It starts with a bang, right into an exciting escapade. Lots of twists and turns, awkwardly touching moments, and general fun throughout, in a very readable ans engaging style. Highly recommended.
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