by Sarah Monette
Review by Carolyn Frank
Ace Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0441012868
Date: 01 August, 2005 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of each of the men, one a wizard, one a thief-assassin. They do turn out to share a common type of childhood, and many other attributes as well. Both characters are three-dimensional people, with multiple sides, and the ability to see their world from varying perspectives. Neither is particularly likeable but they are interesting enough to follow along throughout their journey.
The city where the two men live is Melusine, a medieval capital with a ruler in a fortress. All of the typical sections of such an urban area are described: homes of the upper-class, sectors for the various trades, and the slums. The wizard lives in the fortress with the ruler and the rest of the courtiers. The thief-assassin lives in the slums and visits other parts on his travels to perform various tasks. With nearly every other introduced character drawn as a one-dimensional caricature and the city's structures pedantically described, the city itself does not ever seem to come alive.
Once outside the city, the two men travel through a medieval European countryside and on a sailing ship across a sea. None of this is described particularly clearly or uniquely; it is merely a moving stage on which the two men react to their situation or each other. Magic and magical abilities wander throughout the book, though neither its performance nor its results are particularly credible or even richly written.