The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes is not a book that only gamers will enjoy, but it is a book gamers will appreciate. At the beginning, one of the lead characters, Loch has a plan to steal a valuable. Unfortunately, she and her former comrade-in-arms, Kail, are in an inescapable prison due to a previous attempt. One carefully planned and executed escape later, they set about gathering their party.
Kail and Loch are fighters. Those they select are carefully chosen for their skills: There’s Desidora, the death priestess who is handy with wards and who carries a talking hammer; Ululenia, the unicorn shapeshifter; Hessler, the illusionist; Tern and Icy, the thieves; and Dairy, the naïve young man with a mysterious birthmark who comes along because no one has the heart to turn him away. Once the party is gathered, they begin to plan an elaborate theft. They have to plan and carry it out in spite of the rather formidable bunch who want them all dead or in prison.
The plotting in this book is marvelously intricate. Weekes has written a clever heist here, one with multiple parts and unusual combinations of characters and skills. The group starts out loose-knit and in it for the money, but their bonds grow tighter as the danger increases. Politics starts to get involved, and magic comes increasingly to the forefront. By the end of the book, there are so many unexpected twists and turns and dangers that it becomes nearly impossible to put down.
The Palace Job is a fast-paced, action-oriented book. World development is consistent, but only enough to keep matters moving. The characters are enjoyable, but not deep psychological studies. Occasionally, in fact, the character-markers are a touch overemphasized—yes, Ululenia has a thing for books; Tern is wearing a brown dress with lots of pockets; and Kail probably should vary his “Your mother” insults. Still, it’s mostly a matter of what the reader is looking for: If you like heists, corrupt political institutions, and somewhat snarky zombies, this is a book for you.
The Palace Job is recommended to people who enjoy role playing games (on the computer or otherwise), those seek adventure tales, and lovers of elaborate heists.
Or buy the entire trilogy in one go: