Ossus Library Index
Fantasy Index


A novel by Michael McClung
(2012, Michael McClung)

Amra Thetys, book 1

When a friend is murdered, a young thief goes in search of the murderer, while being stalked by a wizard who wants a magical item she holds.


-- First reading (ebook)
October 23rd to 29th, 2021


A diverse world with well-developed characters and suitable magical properties. I liked Amra’s single-minded doggedness to her murdered friend, bent on revenge, despite the hardships. But I really liked Holgren the wizard -he’s very powerful, and it was a lot of fun to watch him in action. The world has people who have morals, but they seem to be rare, and their loyalty dictates that it takes a back seat to practicality too often. The world, of course, has its share of demons, evil wizards, and just plain cutthroats to watch out for, so it’s no wonder. But Amra finds friendship in all of this, and it’s her character that drew me back to the story night after night.

Spoiler review:

The world in this book seems small, even though Amra can't walk from one place to another. Somehow, the author made it seem like he could squeeze the city into a tiny place. Amra has her home in a medium area, but visits a friend in a run-down part of town. Yet the bar where she and Holgren look for information is in a place that's even seedier. The Elamner, which I assume is some kind of demon or alien being, lived in a posh neighborhood, even though some of the resorts are abandoned. Then there are the outskirts of the city of the dead, where Holgren the wizard lives, and the various tributes to the gods. It makes for an interesting world, with the requisite religion, magic-users, dead who can't rest, and a few other surprises.

Amra is thrust into the intrigue by happenstance. She’s a thief, and has friends who are also thieves. Corvin has run into trouble after a job, where his buyer didn’t want to pay, so he asks Amra to hide the last of the statuettes he stole from a long-abandoned monastery. When he doesn’t return, she goes after him, and finds him dead. It’s clearly murder, and as she investigates, vowing revenge, it gets more and more gruesome. She learns that Corvin lost some fingers to his attackers, then was allowed to run home, where they finished him off. The chief investigator is a mage, and I liked the way Amra recognized immediately that he’d put a tracking spell on her, which is why she pays Holgren a visit –he’s a very powerful magic user, much more powerful than almost everybody in this book.

I really liked Holgren, and his use of power. Here, the wizards are just as shady as the other citizens, and Holgren has no qualms about using his magic. It’s refreshing, really. When somebody threatens him, he blasts them with excessive force, and the people around learn quickly not to mess with him. When Amra gets a price on her head for not handing over the statuette, because she’s stubborn and wants to kill whoever killed Corvin, Holgren accompanies her to the pub where they try to buy out the contract. When that doesn’t work, Holgren blasts the wizard who was responsible. He blasts the person who’s been tracking Amra, too, but the man is another unknown species, who can transfer his soul to another body, though he chooses a crab-like one for some reason.

As a thief, Amra has both a handler who gives her contracts, and suppliers. She uses both to her advantage here. While she’s offered a safe place to stay as she recovers from the first attack, she’s not the kind of person who likes safety or settling down. She goes on the offensive, and after scouting out the place where the strange Elamner lives, and seeing that he’s in some sort of undead trance, she gathers Holgren, a mercenary group and the police investigator to break into the place. Being a magical building, all sorts of strange defenses crop up. And because Amra has held the frog statuette from before the cataclysm that destroyed the world, she’s spared when the Elamner wakes up and kills everybody else. The author did a good job of separating her from Holgren, as he dealt with the portal to the underworld, so he doesn’t face off against the Elamner.

I quite enjoyed the funeral scene, where Amra meets Corvin’s brother (after spending days in prison for attacking her enemies on the street). They have a potion that seems to bring the dead back to life for a last few seconds to say goodbye. It was funny the first time, and more interesting the second. The Elamner demands the frog statuette, and Amra tries to fight him for it, using a magical artefact that allows her to perceive time slower than it is. She’s still beaten, but the blood spilled summons the protector of the dead city, protector of the knife that’s hidden within the gold statuette. The protector is still not a match for the Elamner, who melts the statuette, revealing the knife –and all he wants to do is kill himself, because he’s been cursed to eternal life. Once dead, Amra takes the knife and snaps it, which surprised me. But I guess she learned from the protector, who turned into the hideous beast due to all the hatred that the knife projected onto its owner.

I’d be interested in seeing what comes next, as Amra and Holgren seem to team up for the next heist.


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