Easie Damasco is caught stealing and sent to war. He manages to escape, taking a giant named Saltlick and some other items with him, mostly out of habit since he is a thief by trade. Unfortunately, Easie does not realize the full significance of the items he has stolen, and he is forced to run for his life. Fortunately, he hadn’t intended to fight in the battle anyway.
David Tallerman’s Giant Thief is an amusing rogue’s tale, and Easie is just the sort of hero that one might expect from a rogue’s tale: clever and not above bending the rules and the truth to get ahead. My favorite parts of Easie’s story are his wry observations about his circumstances. For example, although everyone thinks Easie Damasco is just a small part of a bigger picture, he maintains that he is a big part of a picture just slightly larger than he is. His cleverness — not to mention the amusing wordplay that tends to follow — rarely keeps Easie out of trouble, but it does explain why Tallerman would want to build a story around this disreputable thief.
However, Damasco’s easy-going nature sometimes trips up his story. There were times when the conflict between the armies of Moaradrid called upon my attention, but the narrative is told from Easie’s point of view. And while others around Easie might care about Moaradrid’s armies, he generally cannot be bothered to see the bigger picture. Consequently, there are points where the novel’s suspense is muted by the focus on Easie’s roguish narration. Tallerman has produced a light, breezy plot that would likely read nicely on the beach, but I sometimes found myself drifting away from it.
I often found Tallerman’s characters familiar. Saltlick is a giant, dangerous and best approached with caution, and I found the most interesting thing about him to be his unusually humorous name. Easie, meanwhile, often reminded me of Jack Vance’s famous hero, Cugel the Clever. However, although Easie may be the more level-headed thief, he is ultimately a less conniving and therefore a less compelling figure around which to build a story.
Giant Thief is an amusing, if familiar, fantasy novel. The plot is light, offering readers a chance to rub shoulders with giants, warlords, and, of course, a thief. Readers who enjoy roguish heroes that don’t always do the right thing are likely to enjoy Tallerman’s Giant Thief, the first in a series focused around Easie Damasco.
I listened to Brilliance Audio’s production of Giant Thief, which was narrated by James Langton. Langton offers an often disarming reading of Easie’s adventures. In fact, I often found myself thinking that he might once have been a foreign correspondent for the six o’clock news, which made him, in my opinion, a natural choice for a deceptive narrator who is actually not always worthy of the reader’s trust.