The Nine (Thieves of Fate)
by Tracy Townsend
Cover Artist: Cover Design by Jacqueline Nasso Cooke
Review by Jon Guenther
Pyr Trade Paperback / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781633883413
Date: 14 November 2017 List Price $18.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Nine is Tracy Townsend's debut novel, and in my opinion, it's quite a debut! I'd taken a chance with this book after having read a summary of the plot, as it goes a little outside my normal preferences. Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. Yeah, it's really that good.
For starters, this is a well-written story with great archetypes set in a fully realized setting. World-building is a terribly difficult task for a writer, and I can tell that the author put some serious thought and time into the details. Moreover, the descriptions are sprinkled throughout the text without the expository bloat seen so often in fantasy works of this type. What struck me even more profoundly: this could really be a work that falls into either the fantasy or science fiction genre, although I lean more toward the former camp on this one.
The plot centers on a MacGuffin device of sorts, as is realized by its tagline "A book that some would kill for..." and yet we get it shrouded in mystery of its actual power and magical properties. Around this, we have truly likable and human characters to which we can relate: the serious but somehow naive heroine; an enigmatic sorcerer alchemist; a wealthy jerk who is also a secret adventurer and reluctant hero; a priest that unwittingly holds knowledge about the book. Here also is a society with corrupt cops, creatures called aigamuxas that form an almost otherworldly mafia of sorts, a religious group that acts almost like a band of liturgical thugs, and much more.
The book is not without some minor problems. Well-established characters are sometimes exterminated without good reason, or a bit prematurely when they probably still have some story contribution to make. Also, there were occasions where scenes were too long-drawn-out to the point they almost seemed like padding and where shorter or more concise points would have been better overall. I was also still a little unsure of what aigamuxas actually look like due to the somewhat obscure descriptions of them.
Regardless of those minor nuances that can and should be fixed by a good editor, The Nine by Tracy Townsend is a fun novel and has earned the author a new fan. I highly anticipate the remaining books in the series, not only to see where the story goes, but also that I may be continuously delighted by the author's excellent talents for entertaining me. Highly recommended reading for gritty fantasy lovers!