Nov 26, 2007

Thraxas by Martin Scott

This book, winner of the 2000 World Fantasy Award, is the first in a series that recounts the adventures of Thraxas, an ill-tempered private investigator who lives in the magical city of Turai.

Imagine a crossover between a film-noir and a classic sword-and-sorcery tale. That will give you a rough idea of what to expect from this book. Martin Scott said he thought it would be fun to put a detective in The Lord of the Rings. The result is indeed a very fun book. But the world this story is set in is not really like Middle Earth. Turai is a dark city, where political intrigue, crime and corruption abound. The area the protagonist lives in, a slum by the name of Twelve Seas, is especially rough.

The story opens with Thraxas being visited by the Royal Princess of Turai, who wants to hire his help to recover a box of love letters she sent to a foreign ambassador by the name of Attillan. Thraxas accepts the case, and a few hours later he founds himself in jail, accused of murdering Attillan. The plot thickens when Thraxas gets involved in yet another case, a case that has the city in an uproar: the disappearance of a shipment of Red Elvish Cloth, the only substance in the world that is completely magic-proof. A third case involves the son of an important politician being accused of dealing in dwa, a very powerful and dangerous drug. It is up to Thraxas to solve these three mysteries, and to find a way to save himself along the way.

Thraxas' best friend in Twelve Seas, and his frequent rescuer, is a young woman by the name of Makri. She’s a fierce fighter, and also a beautiful woman, but because she has Human, Orc and Elf parentage, she is discriminated against by all three races. She studies by night and works as a barmaid by day, wearing a chain-mail bikini at work to increase her tips. She was my favourite character. But Thraxas, despite his vices and his temper, turned out to be likeable as well. He might be a chronic drinker and a gambler, but when it comes down to it, he’s an honest and honourable man.

I have just spent much longer than I normally do trying to explain the plot of this book, but that's because I wanted to somehow convey the mood of the story, which is not an easy task. The world this story is set on is a rich and complex one, and I look forward to seeing how it is developed throughout the series. The story itself was suspenseful, humorous and full of action. Its only flaw was perhaps the fact that it was a little too fast-paced. A slower rhythm would have allowed the several mysteries to deepen, and thus making things more interesting. But still, this was a very entertaining read, and, like I said, I look forward to the rest of the series.

This is my second read for the Seconds Challenge – I picked it because earlier this year I read and absolutely adored The Good Faeries of New York. That book was published under the name Martin Millar, but it’s the same Martin we’re talking about here. The two books were quite a bit different, though. Both use a lot of humour, but while Good Faeries was funny and tender and sad, Thraxas was a much lighter read. I suppose it just goes to show that the author is versatile. While I think I will enjoy the books he publishes under Martin Millar more, I still plan on reading both.

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  1. Sounds interesting and I have Good Fairies to read at some point after reading your review of it a while ago. Robert Rankin wrote a sort of detective fantasy story but in this world not a fantasy world called The Witches of Chiswick which was ok.

    I also tagged you on my blog for a random thingy!

  2. Sounds like quite an interesting concept, but I think I'm even more interested in finding out more about Good Faeries...will have to look for your review of that one.

    After reading your review of Alice in Sunderland, I immediately requested in through inter-library loan. Picked it up yesterday, and am really enjoying it. Thanks!

  3. haha! this sounds like great fun! :)

  4. Rhinoa: Do read Good Faeries! I look forward to seeing what you think of it.

    Debi: I do think you'd like Good Faeries more than this one. Unfortunately I read it shortly before I started blogging, so I never posted about it, but some time ago Chris asked me how I'd liked it in a comment and I blabbed at length in my response :P You can read it here.

    Jean Pierre: I think you'd enjoy this one! It really is a lot of fun.

  5. Thanks Nymeth, for pointing me to your comments. I went searching your blog for your review yesterday, but obviously didn't find it. Anyway, it sounds wonderful! Another one that needs to be added to the old amazon wish list, for sure!

  6. You are welcome :) I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!


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