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Thieves #1

Among Thieves

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A thrilling fantasy debut—a high-stakes heist novel set in a gritty world of magic and malice, and perfect for fans of Six of Crows!

In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.

For the past six years, a deadly secret has kept her in hiding, running from town to town, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster—the sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr. No matter how far or fast she travels, his servants never fail to track her down...but even the most powerful men can be defeated.

Ryia’s path now leads directly into the heart of the Guildmaster’s stronghold, and against every instinct she has, it’s not a path she can walk alone. Forced to team up with a crew of assorted miscreants, smugglers, and thieves, Ryia must plan her next moves very carefully. If she succeeds, her freedom is won once and for all…but unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own.

350 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 7, 2021

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M.J. Kuhn

2 books368 followers

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5 stars
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684 (29%)
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167 (7%)
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53 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 653 reviews
Profile Image for M.J. Kuhn.
Author 2 books368 followers
Want to read
July 11, 2021
I wrote this thing, so I'm a little biased*, but if you like betrayal, humor, magic, and characters who are, at best, morally gray, I hope you'll give AMONG THIEVES a try!

*very biased lol
Profile Image for LIsa Noell "Rocking the Chutzpah!.
610 reviews209 followers
February 16, 2023
My thanks to Gallery/Saga Press, M.J. Kuhn and Netgalley. If you love fantasy where the lines are a bit smudged between good and bad, then this is your book! I loved most of the main characters, and may have given the "heck yes," fist pump a time or two. Thing is that the magic and how it's controlled are clever. Really clever! You think you know, or at least I thought I did! But, out of the blue you learn the true extent of the quill, and it's like a sucker punch! I can't recommend this story enough. It is the start of a series, but it did have a definitive end. I can't wait for more!
Profile Image for Lucie V..
1,014 reviews2,076 followers
August 23, 2022
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you Gallery Books). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Band of misfits
✅ Atmosphere
✅ Plotting / Betrayals
✅ Magic system
✅🆗 Plot / Pace
🆗 World-building
🆗 Characters

What could go wrong if a reckless mercenary, an expert card cheater, a master of disguise, a disgraced ex-captain of the royal guard, and a loudmouth smuggler were forced to work together and rely on each other in order to survive?

The setting of this story reminds me of Six of Crows or The Lies of Locke Lamora. Criminal gangs are fighting for territory and power in the city, and no one is trustworthy. Gangs and individuals are attacking, and double-crossing each other in their fight for power. The three main gangs are The Saints, The Harpies, and The Crowns.

Ryia (aka The Butcher) works for Cal, the head of the Saints, as a mercenary, but what she really wants is to be free of the Guildmaster who has been trying to capture her for years. Tristan is hiding his real identity and is being blackmailed by The Harpies because they somehow learned his secret, and he now has to betray The Saints if he wants his secret to remain a secret. Ivan is secretly trying to get enough money to go back home and save his brother from prison. Evelyn is only helping because Cal promised her that she could bring Riya to justice once their theft is done so she could regain her position as captain of the guard. And Nash is there because she has sweet feelings for Ivan, but she still thinks about herself first.

The author managed to create a band of misfit criminals that must work together to stay alive but are all really working for their personal gain, and are all planning to betray the others once the mission is completed.

The world-building is basic, we know that there are a few neighboring countries all rules by kings and queens and that there are tensions between some of those countries, but that’s about it. I would have liked to have a little more detail. The magic system is quite simple to grasp, some people are born with magical abilities, they are either Sensers, people that can smell people and their intents, or Kinetics, people that can make things move with their minds.

The plot is well done, the writing is compelling, and the dialogues are funny, still, I had a little trouble connecting with the characters. We don’t know much about their backstories, except for Ryia, we only know their motivations and the reason why they plan on betraying the others. They are good characters, not too simple or too cliché, but there was something missing.

Overall, Among Thieves is a good story with a fast pace, and just enough complexity, betrayals, and unexpected twists to keep you engaged in the reading and guessing about everyone's plans and motives until the very end. I think it would be even better if it were longer, just so we could have more background information on the characters, and more insight into their dynamics.

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Profile Image for Hilly 🎐.
710 reviews1,323 followers
Want to read
May 12, 2020
Book: a team of queer criminals who are the best at what they do come together to pull off an impossible job and against all odds start to care about each other...
Me: waaait, this sounds too close to Six of Crows, I'm not sure I'm going to like it
Book: ...all while scheming to betray each other
Me: hold my tbr
Profile Image for a foray in fantasy.
280 reviews288 followers
March 23, 2022
Not enough gay. I was promised LGBTQ+ rep, and I am vaguely disappointed.

Brave to compare it to SoC, but a fairly accurate claim in premise. However, the characters and writing pale in comparison to SoC.
Profile Image for Claire Holroyde.
Author 2 books133 followers
April 3, 2021
AMONG THEIVES by M.J. Kuhn is a fun, fantasy heist featuring four beautiful young swindlers of Thamorr: an enforcer, a smuggler, a master forger, and a fast-fingered card dealer. Ryia, Nash, Ivan, and Tristan belong to the Saints syndicate headed by a half-brilliant and half-psychotic boss Clem Callum. All of them carry loaded dice, as well as secrets that could destroy them.
The Saints inhabit a reimagined medieval Europe familiar to the genre. Outside of the turf wars between other syndicates, and trouble with the noble class, there lies a unique danger: Adepts. These are humans born with supernatural powers but kidnapped before their first birthday and taken back to an island ruled by the Guildmaster and his Disciples, the most powerful of Adepts. Little is known about island except that it holds a seasonal auction of adult Adept slaves that have had their humanity sapped but not their gifts. Kuhn gives frightening descriptions of the slack facial expressions and empty eyes left by this dark magic.
The Guildmaster is the real ruler of Thamorr, unchallenged—until the source of his power is discovered by Ryia and then Clem. Our swindlers are sent on a near suicidal mission to steal this precious object known as The Quill. Joining their ranks is a sixth character, Evelyn, a disgraced Captain of the Needle Guard with an axe to grind with Ryia. Their voyage in close quarters begins with the usual flirtation and death threats. However, our swindlers can’t help but form a bond. Afterall, they are victims of circumstance surviving the only way they know how.
As Ryia, Nash, Ivan, Tristan, and Evelyn step onto dry land for the ultimate heist that may cost them their lives, they can’t help but hope that their found family means something, beyond the convenience of the past and desperate need of the present.

You don’t have to be an avid fantasy reader to enjoy this highly entertaining, imaginative, and sexy debut. I stayed up late to find that the storyline is left open-ended for the opportunity of a sequel. I’m hoping AMONG THIEVES becomes the fan favorite that Publisher’s Weekly predicted because I already have a slot in my bookshelf reserved for the sequel.

Thank you to the author and SAGA for providing an Advance Reader Copy. (I bought my own hardcover for Instagrammy goodness.)
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,064 reviews1,481 followers
July 11, 2021
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

Smugglers, cheats, murderers, and drunks. These are the types of people drawn to the Lottery. A life lived in these quarters is a hard one, with the filth that coats it also seeming to infect each soul that dwells there. Governing these streets is Cal Clem and never far from his side are the brawlers, assassins, and thieves that aid in making his rule such a formidable one. Those who get close to Clem tend to live for longer than those who attempt to ferret out a hard-won existence on the gloomy streets, but servitude to him does not come with any other expiration date than the one death can grant.

I immediately adored this book. A gloomy setting formed the backdrop for gritty characters performing gruesome deeds. The actual direction the story-line was going to take was slow to unfurl but I enjoyed my time learning more about the politics of this world, a little about the magic those in power horded, and about the others who dwelled far from wealth or status and yet sought to eke out some of it for themselves. No matter what it took.

There was little light to be found here, but the individuals who centred this story made their own in the form of witty dialogue and sarcastic interactions that endeared me to them all, despite the brutality and bloodshed that also dogged them. There were many perspectives featured and all came with a harrowing back-story or high-stake needs that made their joint ventures consistently infused with added tension.

This book took place in shadowed street corners and on the high seas. It took the reader to hidden catacombs and on the floor of fighting pits. We met those who ruled this world and those who were only attempting to escape being trod by them. I loved everything I read and am so eager to get my hands on the sequel, to continue my explorations.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, M. J. Kuhn, and the publisher, Gollancz, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Edward.
377 reviews1,013 followers
January 27, 2022
Can't say how refreshing it is to read a fantasy book that uses the word 'twerp' and 'prat' so often.
Profile Image for Nicholas Eames.
Author 11 books5,751 followers
November 14, 2022
This was great! A group of murderous, back-stabbing, secret-hoarding miscreants pulling off a heist? What's not to love?
Profile Image for Allison.
Author 12 books169 followers
April 9, 2021
Buckle up, fantasy fans, because AMONG THIEVES is coming soon and it's about to kick you in the stomach and you will thank it for doing so. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this stellar debut, and it's SO GOOD.

AMONG THIEVES is a gritty underground fantasy heist starring:

- a down-on-its-luck crime syndicate
- a badass lady pirate
- an axe-wielding mercenary who is Not What She Seems (TM)
- a hot master of disguise for whom I would do ANYTHING
- a teenage con artist with a deadly secret
- an impossibly powerful relic, secreted away on an island in the possession of the most powerful man in all the kingdoms

Every character is brilliantly distinct and deliciously ruthless, all scheming for their own gain while trying to team up for the greatest heist of the century. They are all god-awful human beings and they know it, but there's just enough redeemability in each of them for me to root for the whole crew all the way. The banter is exquisite, the setting is brilliantly drawn, and I did not see the ending coming even though I *absolutely* should have seen the ending coming.

AMONG THIEVES is a bold, edgy, confident debut and a nonstop roller-coaster ride of a fantasy adventure. And there had darn better be a book 2 because if no one's gonna tell me what happens in the further adventures of Hot Forger and Master of Disguise Ivan Rezkoye I will riot.
Profile Image for Rebecca Roanhorse.
Author 54 books8,083 followers
June 21, 2021
A fun fantasy heist with enough twists, turns, and charm to make it a quick enjoyable read. The worldbuilding is a bit off - I never quite felt grounded in time or place - but the characters shine by the end. Solid fun.
Profile Image for Susan.
291 reviews42 followers
August 28, 2023
Oh, what a fun ride. A heist. Double crosses. Secret identities. Disguises. Grey morality. Ancient artifacts.

Contrary to the synopsis of the book, this is a multiple point of view tale. Don't worry, they aren't in first person, they are in third person. Our protagonists are a crew of thieves commissioned to steal the aforementioned artifact. They don't know what the item does, just that they will make a lot of money from it. Some of the crew have know each other for years. Some are new to the group, like the captain whose ship they stole. Everyone has their own agenda.

And don't worry about the ship part, there isn't a ton of nautical stuff. It is just transportation. I personally love nautical stuff, but that's me.

Anyway, I highly recommend this if you like a heist story, even if Fantasy isn't your usual genre. It is just that good.
Profile Image for Zack Argyle.
Author 5 books364 followers
June 19, 2023
THIS BOOK IS GREAT AND ONLY 350 PAGES 😆. I'm so busy nowadays that finding time to read is hard, so I extra appreciate adult fantasy books that aren't 1000 pages long.

This is a heist story that I'm going to call it "Grimdark light", which is a big plus for me. The crew is filled with conniving thieves that almost like each other, with just enough redemption to keep you rooting for them.

Relentlessly paced and intricately plotted, I highly recommend Among Thieves!
Profile Image for FanFiAddict.
548 reviews144 followers
March 8, 2021
Rating: 7.5/10

Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of Among Thieves for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Among Thieves is an engaging, suspense-filled heist novel with blistering pace, an intriguing cast of characters, and plenty of machinations to keep you guessing until the very end. Kuhn shows a ton of promise with this fantasy debut and is going to be a name to keep an eye on.

Yeah… so I haven’t read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo *anticipates being shouted at and/or thrown items hurtling toward noggin* so I can’t just jump on the hype train that comes with the blurb. Having said that, the cover is what stood out to me, along with a very interesting premise and me being a sucker for trad published debut fantasy novels.

The author takes a very interesting approach with the storyline as she weaves the plot through multiple POVs, each taking on their own chapters and giving you their perspectives of the happenings throughout all of the trials. It is refreshing to get various accounts rather than all characters being mashed into the “mercenary band / band of thieves” grouping and getting a one liner here and there from each. You are able to explore the world through different eyes, emotions, motivations, etc.

Having said that, the characters and the world did feel like they could’ve been fleshed out a little more. Ryia is probably going to be the character that most sticks with me because: A. She is introduced first, and B. She has the most interesting storyline. I mean, who is she really? What motivates her? How in the world did she become the “Butcher of Carrowwick”? All of these questions deserve answers, and while we don’t get the full story we are looking for, there is enough there to keep you wanting more.

In regard to the world-building, it tended to take a backseat to the characters. What I mean is, while this is a VERY character-driven novel in a “gritty world full of magic and malice”, the world is really just there to give these characters somewhere to go. Does that make sense? I couldn’t get a great feel for the streets, the catacombs, the castles, the Auction, the Lottery, etc. They were all very surface but serviceable for the storyline. Thing is, I could look past all this because sometimes the world doesn’t TRULY matter if the characters grab you enough.

The magic system is pretty straight forward but offered some very intense and enjoyable moments. I’d love to know more of its history and maybe forthcoming novels can expand on it a little bit. But what really shines are the machinations. While this is a “found family” type novel, you will soon find out that while people seem to have your back, they are just as likely to stab you in it. Kuhn excels at consistently flipping the tables end over end, smattering them with axes, and then hurling expletives at them until they finally give up the ghost. Even then, she still isn’t done. Freaking brilliant.

All in all, if you enjoy heist stories with plenty of intrigue and are ok with not diving too deep into characters or world-building, Among Thieves is a worthwhile read. I liken it to a favorite of mine, Fool’s Gold (The Dragon Lords #1) by Jon Hollins except with all “mostly” human characters and not soo many dragons.
Profile Image for keira.
422 reviews175 followers
July 9, 2021
arc kindly provided by netgalley and the publisher.

dnf @ 40%

oooof i really really tried with this book, especially considering i received an arc. i feel awful having not even finished it but life is short, my tbr list is ever growing and i just couldn’t get into this at all

the main reason i requested an arc for this was the comparison to six of crows (which is one of my favourite books and a very high bar to meet), including heists, a stabby queer protagonist called the butcher of carrowick (badass, right?), and a ragtag group of criminals and thieves each with their own useful talent

now, the writing is excellent, truly. unfortunately, the amount of names and places and characters introduced with little backstory had me SO confused that i struggled to understand what was going on.

i wanted to love this and get to the end, but i guess it just wasn’t for me, or maybe my head isn’t in the fantasy realm at the moment.

overall, ‘Among Thieves’ had fantastic potential, but with far too much happening and too little information
Profile Image for Genevieve Gornichec.
Author 7 books1,932 followers
April 2, 2021
breaking my GR hiatus briefly to say that this book had me at "fantasy heist where all the characters are planning to betray each other." AMONG THIEVES was so much fun, and most importantly the reasons for said characters all wanting to betray each other are believable and sympathetic. I didn't know which of them I even wanted to "win" the magical heist item in the end. And I LOVED that about the book.

All in all, this was such a ride and there was never a dull moment, and I loved how neatly everything unfolded in the end. I felt like there is still so much of this world to explore, and I really hope this gets a sequel! (Please give me Ryia/Evelyn! PLEASE, I NEED IT)

Edited to add: okay that's it I'm done now
Profile Image for Noah Lemelson.
Author 6 books36 followers
March 22, 2021
A high stakes, rollercoaster of a fantasy heist novel! Every chapter is full of twists and turns, with a cast of fascinating characters that are sympathetic despite (or sometimes because of) their morally grey actions.

I love the world Kuhn crafted. This is a world magic is monopolized and peace essentially forced by this control. But this is no utopia, sleeze rules, and the future belongs to those thieves and tricksters who live by the laws of the gutter.

Very enjoyable, highly recommended! Story wraps up well, but there's strong hints for more tales in this universe, and I for one can't wait! 5/5
Profile Image for Scottie Kaye.
Author 14 books19 followers
January 31, 2022
Multiple POVs at their best. I got invested in EVERY character... And they were all working against each other! I don't know how the author managed that! A really cool magic system too, and a great reveal for the "mainest" character. I loved the ending. Loved the heist. Loved the subtle growing romances. If you liked SIX OF CROWS or THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, then you can't miss this one!
Profile Image for Alyshia.
209 reviews4 followers
March 18, 2021
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc.

I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did. I thought it was another thief and heist book with multiple POVs. I’m really not a fan of more than 2/3 POVs. However, the story was delivered flawlessly. I found myself enjoying every character and really looking forward to their chapters. It held the perfect amount of sass and snark. The heist was so cool. The magic was intriguing and different. I loved it all. Start to finish. I’m really hoping there’s another book.

If you love action, adventure, plot twists, ulterior motives, heists, magic, superb characters, etc, go preorder this book.! It’s 100% worth it.
Profile Image for Manny.
50 reviews3 followers
September 13, 2021
Before I tell you why I cherished this book (without spoilers), I simply want to say WOW. Among Thieves is a first-novel triumph for M.J. Kuhn and in my top ten list for 2021! M.J. demonstrated she had a marvelous writing ability and just carved herself a seat at the table with the brilliant authors of our time, and can’t wait to read what she comes up with next. Bravo!

And my fondness for this book starts with how well plotted it was. I was astonished and delighted at every turn, pages and twists unfolding in front of me, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. M.J. weaved a series of events where nearly every character’s wants and needs included and properly executed. She also built a splendid world filled with fascinating places, governments and magic ingredients that beg expansion beyond this first novel.

Then, if the plot wasn’t enough, M.J. established a gang of misfits—all different in their own ways and in dire need of an arc—and delivered by allowing us to live the scenes, dialogues and betrayals that make these characters shine (and 3-dimensional). Each had a well-developed history that we’ve experienced through the finely tuned narrative. Her prose was perfect, written with a slight touch towards the poetic, yet widely accessible for all to enjoy.

Now, if, like me, you stay at the end credits of every Marvel movie expecting to see a sequence revealing new plot points for the MCU, wait until you read the epilogue of Among Thieves. I loved the book before the epilogue. Then my expectations were snatched and thrown to the wall to reveal that not everything was what it seemed... but what an ending. A “what’s in a box/Seven” moment. She closed all the doors and answered all questions set throughout the book, yet left a window open to let a breeze in, whispering to us…”but there is more…”

In conclusion, if you love (who wouldn’t) an amazingly well plotted fantasy/heist novel, with spicy-well-written characters and a top-notch ending, do yourself a favor and read M.J. Kuhn's incredible first novel Among Thieves.
Profile Image for theresa.
302 reviews4,373 followers
Want to read
November 23, 2020
according to the author's twitter, this book has:
- daring magical heists
- sarcastic, take-no-shit heroines
- unlikely allies
- intrigue and betrayal
- slow burn romance (f/f)

and i am very excited for this team of criminals to create a found family while planning a heist and how to betray each other. also. sapphics.

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter
Profile Image for Christina.
Author 5 books133 followers
April 8, 2021
I'm not the biggest fantasy reader, but the cover and description of this book called to me. And I was not disappointed. This book has so much of what I look for: secrets, misfits, great world building, and a gripping plotline. The humorous dialogue and compelling storyline kept me engaged, and I'm hoping for a sequel! Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this book.
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,854 reviews1,644 followers
September 8, 2021
Among Thieves is a riveting and enthralling tale encompassing both the crime and fantasy genres in which a group of uniquely skilled criminals team up for an impossible job… while plotting to betray one another. Ryia Cautella, aka The Butcher of Carrowwick, has been on the run for the past six years in order to keep her secret exactly that; she's traversed the Five Kingdoms of Thamorr travelling from city to city to remain one step ahead of her enemies, namely sovereign ruler of the kingdom, the all-powerful Guildmaster of Thamorr, and his omnipresent all-seeing servants. Those who know her hail her as a merciless, scathing and deadly mercenary among her fellow dockside gangsters, and she has recently joined and became an infamous member of a syndicate knows as the Saints of the Wharf. So when Toliver Shadowwood, the King of Edale, arranges a meeting with the Kestrel Crowns, Ryia eavesdrops on the encounter and overhears their conversation. What she discovers has the potential to change her life and finally liberate her from the Guildmaster's never-ending pursuit.

Toliver Shadowwood, it appears, is desperate to get his hands on an ancient, magical quill belonging to the Guildmaster; the artefact that happens to give him all his powers and abilities. So when the Kestrel Crowns reject the offer made to them and refuse to take the contract, Ryia decides to take the bull by the horns and pilfer the job. Informing the boss of her crew, Callum Clem, of the mission, The Saints set sail on a dangerous voyage to the Guildmaster's island. However, before they even reach shore, where the most peril undoubtedly lies, Callum is arrested and the crew must carry on along their way without any guidance as to how to pull off the heist of a lifetime. Not only must Ryia now meticulously plan the heist that is to hopefully free her from the Guildmaster's grasp, but she must also keep tabs on those around her. Because when you're working alongside a band of thieves and criminals notorious for their deception and betrayal you realise no one can be trusted. Will she emerge from the fray triumphant?

This is a compulsive, enthralling and intensely bewitching heist novel, and I cannot quite believe it is a debut. It's an electrifying fantasy set in an intricate and exquisitely build world full of seedy characters looking to pull a fast one. The story never truly knows what it wants to be, but arguably that is what makes it as scintillating as it is - there's a mystery at its centre (over Ryia’s secret), a perilous and exciting adventure ensues in the form of the mission to the island, and of course the crime itself - the heist. It is the twisty, fast-paced fantasy heist novel of my dreams packed with action and explores themes such as betrayal, redemption, self-acceptance and recovery from trauma. Full of morally devious criminals who come together in a found family with a dash of slow-burn romance and a unique magic system, Kuhn’s astonishing writing hooks you in with the first severed finger and her ragtag bunch of loveable, backstabbing criminals who will steal your heart. A captivating, heart-pumping and immaculately plotted page-turner, with touches of snarkiness and humour, that I know I will remember for a long time to come as well as a fun and entertaining piece of escapism. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Ed McDonald.
Author 13 books1,250 followers
July 29, 2022
A fun and zesty fantasy heist where everyone's a crook and you're mostly better off trusting your axes than people.
I'm not usually one for heists; I tend to rather dislike books where outright crooks are the heroes (why do I care if they get the loot?) but I'd heard good things so I decided to branch out. And I'm glad I did! What you'll get with Among Thieves is a swift paced, punchy fantasy romp, with indentured magicians, daring-do and threats closing in on all sides.
The characters are all rotters, but they're also rotters that we're able to find reasons to root for. Throw me a story of a woman on the run and I'm halfway happy already. The twists and turns unveil everything nicely.
All in all this book is well worth your time, and I recommend it for fans of Scott Lynch, Peter McLean and RJ Barker
Profile Image for Frances Maples.
27 reviews4 followers
April 27, 2021
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced reader edition of this book and in exchange, I am giving an honest review.

TW: Graphic depictions of slavery

I really hope the author doesn't read this review because it's, unfortunately, gonna be pretty scathing. I can totally see how some people could love this book, but it was really not for me. This book could potentially appeal to fans of Six of Crows, because Among Thieves is very similar to it in concept, setting, and plot. Unfortunately, I think the similarities ended up working against Among Thieves because as I was reading, I kept thinking about how Six of Crows had done a similar concept so much more successfully.

I had my doubts about how much I could enjoy this book right from the beginning because the gritty imagery was just too over the top for me. The mentions of piss and rats throughout this book were constant and unvaried.

The nail in the coffin of this book, for me, was the way it dealt with the concept of slavery. Throughout the book, slavery is the biggest driving force behind worldbuilding and plot. People with magic, called Adepts, are enslaved by the strongest Adept in the world, called the Guildmaster, and sold as mindless slaves to people without magic. Basically, one very strong magical guy is enslaving every single other magical person alive. There is never any specific motive given for this. We can assume it's because of greed or desire for power or political motivation. But this system has gone on unbroken for 300 years, generations of Adepts enslaving their own people with no real explanation as to why given in the text. The optics of this are not great. The depiction of slavery in this book are also really graphic, with slaves consistently being referred to as "it," being forced to fight each other to the death, being stripped of all name and family, and being branded and tattooed. Such a disturbing depiction of slavery could work in a novel with a strong message. But in Among Thieves, the depictions of slavery seem to serve only as window dressing to an already gruesome world. This brings me to why I rated this book one star. When I started reading, I expected to end up rating it three stars. When I realized the author would never explain why the Guildmasters, for generations, had enslaved their own people, I thought I would rate it two stars. Then I read the epilogue and, folks, the slavers win. After an entire book of the main character, Ryia, trying to end slavery, half of the main crew (two out of the main five) just dip and decide to side with the slavers and slavery persists in the world.

In fact, the ending of this book is so unsatisfying in so many ways that it's kind of shocking that the author planned it as a stand-alone. I felt like everything was resolved very sloppily, in part because the author tried to set up way too many plot threads, to begin with. I could not keep track of the countries, gangs, or politics for the majority of the book because each one was thrown at the reader very quickly. There was too much happening at once without enough time in the book devoted to any one individual plotline.

One aspect of the book that I actually did like was the combination of found family themes with the idea that everyone in the squad (except Nash) was constantly planning on betraying someone else in the squad. The sheer amount of double-crossing was fun to watch, as well as the internal conflict between the love of found family and the character's own individual struggles. But even this part of the book had problems. For example, Tristan's crush on Ryia felt so forced and unnecessary. His character conflict would have worked just as well, if not better, if he viewed the squad as his family rather than making his motivations hinge on a half-baked attraction he has to a lesbian. Motives were at times hard to follow because everyone's backstory was thrown at the reader very quickly, without having time to develop or breathe. Also, some of the characters' plans for betrayal feel very short-sighted for characters who are supposed to be intelligent expert thieves.

I read this book initially because I was hoping it would include a F/F romance. It didn't, really. The main character, Ryia, is a lesbian. Ryia does have an enemies to hesitantly trusting partners in crime relationship with Evelyn, but the romance elements of their relationship feel very "blink and you'll miss it."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for H.M. Long.
Author 7 books786 followers
September 8, 2021
Gritty, fun, and effortlessly immersive, Among Thieves hits the ground running and doesn't stop. Kuhn serves up a delightful cocktail of rapid-fire action, wit and original world-building, with all the squad goals and banter your heart desires. Fans of Six of Crows, Lies of Locke Lamora, and compulsively reading until 3:00 am will adore Among Thieves!
7 reviews2 followers
June 22, 2020
Compelling plot complex character interactions set in a very unique world - and that was just the beta! Can't wait to enjoy it all over again once the official release drops.
Profile Image for Karin (book_scent).
284 reviews20 followers
May 6, 2023
4.5 stars!

Intriguing heist adventure with morally grey characters, secrets, betrayals, and dashes of humor!

I had a really good time with Among Thieves! I read most of the book in one sitting and just flew through the chapters. I couldn't get enough of the compelling characters, their interactions and banter, and was eager to learn more about them - especially Ryia. And I always love seeing the found family trope - or more like touches of it, in this case. Because, even though they share a common goal and need each other to pull off this heist, they all have their own motives and hidden agendas. Which makes it hard for them to trust one another, and you never know who's character/story will turn. It was kinda nerve-wrecking to watch it all unfold, because I was rooting for all of them to have their happy ending.

The magic system and the way it was woven into this world and society was fascinating. I wish it would have been more expanded upon as I would have loved to learn more about its intricacies - especially considering the backstory of a certain character and the consequences and implications of it.

My only real issue is the ending. This is a standalone book, but feels more like the first book in a series. It leaves everything wide open, and now I want answers!! ^^ I guess I can only hope for the author to write a sequel some day. I would love to read more from these characters and find out how it all turns out!!

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Trinity.
609 reviews75 followers
October 6, 2021
This book was like a grown-up version of Six of Crows and I'm not mad about it.

Anything involving theives, assassins, heists, I am down for reading. I love plot driven books and these tend to rely heavily on plot. This book was no exception. Add to that some badass female characters and it is even better.

I did wish for a bit more world building but that is my only complaint. And is it ever bad to want more of what is there?!?
Profile Image for Yvonne (The Coycaterpillar Reads).
717 reviews225 followers
December 11, 2021
Among Thieves is the Money Heist Vs Assasins Creed mashup that we didn’t know we needed. MJ Kuhn talks to her readers like they are in the room with her. She’s sitting them down and talking about an idea she has, an idea of stealing a powerful relic and convincing us all it’s a great idea. She shares her wisdom with us in a dark and hypnotic fashion. Whilst reading Among Thieves I had many “aha moments, damn this is good and how can I be a part of this amazing group?” A lot resonated with me – putting on a front to hide the inner despair of a broken past.

Among Thieves is a genre-bending tale of criminality and magic. An unlikely band of criminals with varied skillsets from basic thievery to a master of disguises operates under the name of The Saints run by Cal Clem take on an impossible heist. The only problem? Well the only problem aside from it pretty much is impossible – they are criminals and they all want to doublecross each other. Rhyia, the butcher of Carrowwick, is a badass woman who’s been on the run for the last six years to keep her true identity safe. She will do anything to keep The Guildmaster of Thammor off her back.

Outrunning The Guildmaster, his Disciples, Sensers and other rival gangs is no mean feat. So when she overhears a conversation between the rival gang, The Kestral Crowns, and Toliver Shadowwood she knows this could be her key to finally getting The Guildmaster off her back for good. This is an opportunity she can’t turndown. So The Saints develop a plan to steal this artifact, the most perilous part of the journey is sailing to the Island but Cal Clem has been arrested without sharing the plan with anyone else…

A story with gut and determination. A story about self-acceptance, betrayal, and recovery. Told from five alternating POV’s Rhyia, the butcher. Nash, Queen of the seas, a character who at over six feet tall gave me serious Brienne of Tarth vibes. She’s someone not to be messed with. Tristan is a mysterious character, he’s been making eyes at Rhyia from the start and has a past that he’s constantly running from. The baby of the group, a bit of a pickpocket extraordinaire. Ivan is an exemplary con man, a master of disguises, and a major flirt. He’s got no trouble with conning both the elite and those stricken with poverty. Finally, we have Evelyn, ex Needle Guard Captain. She was becoming something of a high-functioning alcoholic until Cal Clem offered her something she couldn’t refuse. Now she’s part of this crack-shot team and trying to capture the impossible.

Among Thieves is fully imagined and hopelessly makes your head spin. An original work of suspense, murder, and betrayal. A real generosity of female spirit and endurance resides within the pages.
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