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The Art of Deception

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Niko Hrabanic was once a famous swordsman. But after a scandal-laden departure from his last job at a royal court, he's now hiding out in a rural inn, making himself useful to his attractive landlady in all sorts of ways that don't actually involve paying rent...

...until a summons from the mysterious and dangerous White Library shakes up his life all over again. His landla
Kindle Edition, 48 pages
Published August 10th 2016 by Five Fathoms Press
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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  238 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Jan 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an Instabuy in 2017, based on Ilona Andrew‘s recommendation. Finally picked it up. It was ok. Pretty forgettable, actually. Deception after deception folded into each other. Minimal world building, okay characters, a sword master that mostly spent his time wanting to grab his sword or unsheathing it in a dramatic fashion, to not do much with it. Whatever. Not picking up anything else by the author in a hurry.

2.75 illusionary stars
Aug 11, 2016 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
This epic (and romantic) fantasy novelette for adults is my tribute to The Prisoner of Zenda, The Three Musketeers, and every other cloak-and-dagger adventure with flashy swordfights and romance that I've ever devoured in books or on film. I wrote it as a Christmas gift for my brother Dave, who asked for a story with "swordfighting, banter and a twisty plot." It was so much fun to write!

It was originally published in the fabulous adult f/sf anthology Insert Title Here, ed. Tehani Wessely, and it
Layla ✷ Praise the sun ✷
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Thoughts after reading
This was a breath of fresh air.
A novella that managed to pack illusionists, assassins, several plot twists and sword fighting into just 48 pages. I have read some hundreds of pages long books with less story.

Thoughts after buying
This is all Ilona's fault.

She read this 48 pages long novelette and liked it enough to recommend it on Twitter, so I better read this soon.
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A novella of riddles within riddles - funny, clever and just delightful.
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My only complaint is that this story was too short, so I read it twice back to back. I picked this novella up as a recommendation from one of my favorite authors and I loved it. Great world, interesting characters and fun story. Get this now you won't be disappointed! ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook-purchased
The most enjoyable short story I've read in a long time. It's twisty-clever, but in a nice way, rather than the type of clever that sneers at everyone. Perfect length, but my goodness, I would love so. many. more. ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook-owned
Puts me in mind of The Princess Bride
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, novella
Great novella. Pity it's not a full length book. ...more
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think everyone knows by now that Stephanie Burgis has become one of my favorite authors recently. Ever since reading Snowspelled at the end of last year, I’ve been hooked. This is a short fantasy romance novella/novelette (not sure what the cut off is, but it’s only about 50 or so pages), centered around Hrabanic, a sort of maybe retired famous swordsman, and Julia–his landlady. Or supposed landlady. This short book once again proves why I love Burgis so much as a writer. Here she’s taken the ...more
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of this author's adult and children's novels. Burgis blends historical fiction into rich new and diverse worlds. This novella gives us a rarity in fantasy fiction: middle-aged hero and heroine settled in a solid relationship. There's also some lovely swashbuckling sword fights, nifty deceptive magic, and many witty remarks made along the way. Don't be deceived. This is a charmer. ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it liked it
It was a fun and quick read. The world building was interesting and the character of Niko too, I haven't read too many light fantasy romances where the male lead is not so perfectly perfect. I liked some of the twists, but it was such a short story that at some point the twists were just coming and coming, and I couldn't care about them or see their importance. ...more
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun, twisty novelette

I'm glad I followed Ilona Andrews's recommendation, and picked up this quick, enjoyable read. Swords and schemes, magic and banter, what's not to love? And the writing and editing are both excellent. I'd be happy to read more of this pair's adventures, and maybe to find out just exactly what happened when Hrabanic was "not fired" by his previous employers.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-f, romance
So many things to love here! A fascinating magical library, a twisty and intrigue-filled plot, assassins and sword fights and romance, humour and warmth – this is a perfect one-sitting read for a day when you’re looking for pure enjoyment.

Read the full review at Starship Library.
Anita Kilgour
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
fun little story. a good fight and the usual rule about don't tell everything you know. a good fluff for an hour or so. ...more
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the ideas behind this story, but it was just too short in my opinion.

I originally thought Hrabanic and Julia's relationship was of the casual kind due to the beginning of the story. But as the story develops, it seems like their relationship is deeper and more serious than is portrayed. I could have actually believed these two loved each other without saying "I love you," but the story was too short for the author to show that perfectly.

The world-building, though short, was pretty intere
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it
3 stars for potential. This was a short novella. Niko Hrabanic is a disgraced swordsman and has been hiding out after leaving his position as greatest swordsman to the archduke and archduchess. Living in an inn for 3 years and having a physical relationship with his landlady, Julia (who he free-loads off of), is the ultimate of his aspirations until his landlady gets a summons to the white library, a place of great knowledge, power and magic. Manipulating the simple swordsman to protect her, Jul ...more
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
a fun layering of twist on twist

this story comes from the Sword and Sorcerer tradition, like Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, some of Terry Brook’s work or Violette Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno series. They’re joyful stories peopled by wonderfully skilled swordsmen/women, often burdened by secrets (and occasionally by outrageously high self-esteem) and strong intelligent companions who use wit to cut down their partner’s bombast. Lots of fun, the requisite medieval setting, political maneu
Ren Puspita
2 stars

Too short and too much happen, this novelette didn't give me enough time (har har) to invest to the characters and world building.

Some reviews stated that this remind them of Princess's Bride. Sadly, I'm not read it yet (even I already borrow my friend's copy) and not watch it yet, maybe that's why. I also read this when I'm so tired, so maybe my lack of alertness kinda to blame. The writing is easy to enjoy tho, both characters are charming, but well...already state it at first, the l
Sarani Rangarajan
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, kindle

Totally worth your time. Brief, well knit, non-standard ending, stands alone.

This bears repeating: worth reading.

Strong characters, well built, consistent. Interesting repartee. Fun relationship --and it turns out, a relationship of equals. If you have an hour to spare, and you want just ... a good piece of fantasy writing to read, not too sexualised and about the world and the characters, this may be what you're looking for.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
The problem with deception after deception after deception is that by the end, I don't buy any of it - including the story itself. I didn't care much for the characters, and the minimalist world-building appropriate to the story length was insufficient. ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, romance, short
3.75 stars. Fun short story! The characters were complex and mature. The world was intriguing and, with this being a short story, there was a lot more to be explored at the end. I've never read Burgis before but I definitely will be reading more now.
Emily Leathers
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Swordfighting + wordplay

This is a great mixture of witty dialogue, action scenes, and mystery. Stephanie Burgis's short stories always have a twist and I do like how this one stayed twisting the whole time.
This novelette is cute enough, but it's the kind of story that would have benefited from being a longer novella instead. It moved too quickly for me with very little detail, making the story rather forgettable. ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: signal
Very cute short story about a couple surviving the attacks of a bunch of illusionist wizards. This ended well.
Harald Koch
This was fun! light and fluffy, sure, but well written and a quick read. Makes me want to check out her other works...
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entertaining little fantasy adventure tale that fits a lot into a small package.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: author-female, my-own
That was fun. I liked all the deceptions and illusions going round.
I'd love to read more, both a about the library and about Niki and Julia.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
quite delightful! would have gladly read an entire novel of this or even an entire series of julia and hrabanic's adventures! ...more
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure, magic, library
Fun - short, but complete and mysterious librarians
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I grew up in America, but now I live in Wales with my husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, our sons, "Mr Darcy" and "Mr X", and our sweet (and extremely vocal) tabby cat, Pebbles. I write fun, funny MG fantasy novels (most recently The Princess who Flew with Dragons) and wildly romantic adult historical fantasy novels and novellas (most recently Moontangled).

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