The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides
Title: The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn
Author: Tyler Whitesides
Publisher: Orbit, Little, Brown Book Group UK
Published Date: October 21nd 2020
Length: 784 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Adult Fiction, Adult Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
“I’m hiring you to steal the king’s crown.”
Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.
When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.
But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory -Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.
I have only recently realised that I genuinely like heist books and while there aren’t many that I have actually read, this one is a latest favourite for sure! I might not have come across this book but for one of my favourite bookstagrammer gushing over this. I am so glad I looked up the book and got approved for the book by NetGalley and Orbit. I was sold by the time I heard heist, humour and a fun magic system.
So, let’s get into it.
Oh, wait, before we get into it, be aware that this might either turn out to be rambling review or just a gushing review. I can’t guarantee anything else at this point, so I am sorry if that’s not what you are here for. Oops?
Now, let’s get into it.
I have a type of fantasy that I love and it’s clear what kind it is if you look at my Goodreads or even my blog in general. I like big tomes wherein sometimes a lot happens or sometimes not a lot happens but still remains a very ‘active’ book, if you know what I mean. This one is a blend of both sometimes. All I want to say all the time about this book is that ‘Please, this book is so good, you have to read it if you like fantasy and heists because gods, this is like one of the best books I have read this year.’ I guess you get the point.
Let’s start with the world-building. This world feels lived in and very much like it could be real and just as messy. I absolutely loved the way the author went about establishing the world and its people. There’s places that follow one religion and there’s places where said religion is not quite the norm. There are dragons but not everywhere. The fact that the characters make the world more real is what made me fall harder for this book. The characters also feel very lived in and that really helped with immersion. There’s a sense of familiarity with the world and the cities and its systems and it’s shown in a way that makes it very easy to follow along with the main characters.
Let’s get to the characters because there’s a lot I want to talk about! First and foremost, Ardor Benn. He’s a fantastic character. Full of swagger and cocksure about things in life, he absolutely loves life and it shows. It’s the excitement of the ruse that makes this man live his life. He’s well known within this world as someone of dubious nature and very capable of pulling wool over people very easily. This is only made possible because of his best friend, Raekon ‘Short Fuse’ Dorrel, there’s nobody better at details than Raekon and their friendship is a thing of beauty. The endless but seamless banter made their friendship so lovely! One thing to absolutely note here, Tyler Whitesides clearly knows how to write dialogues because the banter and the general conversations are so well done, I am just…*chef’s kiss*
Then comes, Quarrah Khai, she’s a thief who prefers to work alone. However, for a new project Ardor has due to a priestly ‘person’, so she’s then added to the team despite Quarrah being very dubious about the whole deal. I love her character because she’s such a loner and it shows. She’s often confused and annoyed (mostly at Ardor) and wondering if this all is allowed within a group heist and it’s just brilliant to read because Quarrah makes it brilliant. Whether she wants it or not, she will be part of Ardor’s latest ruse. The secondary characters that truly left an impression on me were the disguise managers. Elbrig and Cinza were something else and it was so fascinating to read about them and how fast and how thorough they were with their jobs. Seriously, it’s awe-inspiring.
As far as magic system is concerned, it’s flintlock and it might not be my most favourite magic but this world makes it fascinating. So, the whole thing runs on Grit, depending on what the Grit is made of, there are different ways of using this magic. I am not entirely sure of it yet and I am very eager to learn it more because it involves dragons! That’s right! It has lots and lots of dragons and this world’s history has dragons. The process of making Grit is an interesting one and it’s something I will leave to you learn more of because it will not be what you expect to be. So, good luck with that.
I hope I haven’t forgotten anything important in the story and the things I haven’t mentioned would have been spoilers so…there’s that. I think Tyler Whitesides has a real talent of making a story very accessible to the masses simply due to the language he uses and the story he tells with that language. There’s tons of misdirection and there’s tons of shenanigans, there’s a conspiracy theory emerging that could affect a lot of people and how they view their way of life. There’s a sense of something huge unfolding right before your eyes while you are reading this and it is an absolutely amazing experience in my opinion. I am already blessed to have the e-ARC of the next book on my Kindle already so thanks NetGalley and Orbit for having faith in my abilities to read that much in so short a time. Be on the lookout for the review of the sequel either this month or the beginning of the next month!