“The sun was setting by the time they decided to hang me.” It was something Easie Damasco should never need worry about unless he “got careless or exceptionally stupid. That day, unfortunately, [he’d] been both.”
Who can go wrong with a book about an incorrigible thief whose rapier wit is stronger than his backbone. Easie Damasco lives to steal. When he steals a giant and an innocuous pebble, he becomes an evil overlord’s most-wanted and gets trapped in situations which call upon the best in him. But his inner inventory in that department finds nothing much but dusty shelves.
With the first line I knew I would like this book. “The sun was setting by the time they decided to hang me.” Then, “I’d often been told that sooner or later I’d steal the wrong thing from the wrong person and end up with my neck in a noose . . . I comforted myself with the knowledge that . . . I’d never need to worry unless I got careless or exceptionally stupid. That day, unfortunately, I’d been both.”
And though his life and breath are “hanging” in the balance, he can’t resist baiting his captors. He can’t help himself. He can’t seem to keep his fool mouth shut. When he is saved by a band of riders whose mysterious leader “exuded authority” and “stood out like a hawk among sparrows”, his gratitude turns to greed when he spots the “size of the man’s coin bag”.
Any gratitude, however, is short-lived when he learns he has been saved from the rope only to be hauled off as grist for the mill of war. Though the specter of starvation haunts him continuously, he manages to steal a few wilted, smelly items from the cart on which he was guarded until being handed over to his new keeper. The cart gets barely out of sight before Damasco “comforts himself” by chomping on his new, but unappetizing fare. To appease his new escort, who is glaring at him, Damasco offers him what’s left.
“Stolen?” the guard asks.
“Not from here,” he says, fairly truthfully.
Throughout his adventures, Easie Damasco manages to weasel his way from bad to worse, while desperately trying to put distance between himself and trouble. But trouble assumes many forms and is always one step ahead of him. When he seeks help from one of his old, shady, underworld compatriots, he finds himself embroiled in a woman mayor’s secret plans to halt the onslaught of the evil warlord, Moaradrid of Shoan. And somehow, compulsive thief and liar (and don’t forget “coward”) Easie Damasco is her ticket to victory for the land of Castoval.
Beside him all the way is the gentle giant Saltlick, who speaks only in monosyllables, hates violence, and wants to go home.
Often, as he comes face to face with disaster, Easie comes perilously close to finding himself face to face with himself. Will this turn the tide of character for our reluctant hero? Well . . . maybe.