The Palace Job, by Patrick Weekes, is a high-fantasy heist novel.
Tl;dr – if you like heist stories and think a high fantasy take of them sounds good, you will absolutely love this book.
Onward! SPOILERS FOLLOW.
The potential drawbacks of the book:
1. It’s very, very, very clever. In the sense that heist-double-cross-criminal stories are so very, very clever. Does the plot actually work? Logically? I have no idea, I never pay attention to that sort of thing. I do not CARE about the plot holes in Leverage or Doctor Who.
If you care, however — if the very very clever nature of the plot will irritate you, or if you NEED it to work, well, I can’t guarantee that it does. I didn’t check.
2. This is high fantasy. There’s a metric ton of made-up words and languages and nationalities and what-not. It’s well done, and it hangs together, and I believe it — but if your tolerance for such things is low, you will have some trouble with this book.
3. Retcons. Or, more accurately, a scene that REVEALS that the scene you just read really didn’t happen that way, it happened some totally different way, due to cleverness. YMMV, a lot.
The things I really, truly appreciated and liked about the book:
1. Female war veteran protagonist. She’s not traumatized, she’s not raped, she’s not stupid, she’s not guilty or weak or doing it for a child or a lover. She’s smart and greedy and full of VENGEANCE. Also, she’s very good at what she does.
2. Clever team of criminals! I love a clever team of criminals. I watch Leverage, you know? Hitter, Grifter, Hacker, Thief. Only in this we have a techie, a couple different mages, some muscle, a good-luck charm … it’s quite fun.
3. Racial politics and international politics that make sense. The story takes place in a real world full of real people who all have their own agendas and cross-purposes. Those cross-purposes solve as many problems as they create. It’s a juggling act of writing, and I appreciated the effort.
4. Hitting the numbers of a heist story. This novel ticks off Heist Plot Points like it’s running on a track. The breakout. Meeting the team. The team assembles. The first job. The master plan. The setback. Etc. I liked this. In and amongst the fantasy-land names and languages and countries, I could count on a well-timed double-cross or reveal.
If you are the specific audience for this book, you will ab-so-freakin-lute-ly love it to pieces. But it’s very nichey. In addition, it reads like an Ocean’s Eleven — the characters are there, and we like them, but they are not filled out much more than the roles they play in the plot. Enough depth to be entertaining, YES. But not enough for me to invest heavily. This may be a matter of taste, again. You, Gentle Reader, may invest more than I did.
I liked The Palace Job. I’m glad I read it. From this description I hope you can determine whether you would be similarly glad.