Audiobook Review: The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
Genre: Fantasy, Caper
Series: Book 1 of Rogues of the Republic
Publisher: 47North (October 8, 2013)
Author Information: Twitter
Tiara’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Something has been taken from Loch and secured in one of the most heavily guarded fortresses she’s ever known. She wants it back, and she intends to get it back. First, however, she needs to escape from prison and assemble a team of “experts” to help her achieve her goal. Escaping from prison is the easy part, the harder part is going to be getting to her objective.
Loch picks up an colorful group of partners to help her with her mission. Desidora, a death priestess who carries a talking warhammer. Tern, a tinkerer who cracks safes. Icy, Tern’s acrobatic, pacifist partner who aids her. Kail, Loch’s second who escaped prison with her and often uses “yo momma” jokes to force the hands of others. Ululenia, a shapeshifting unicorn who has a penchant for talking in purple prose and male virgins regardless of race. Hessler, an illusionist they picked up when their first choice wizard didn’t work out. With Hessler, we have Dairy, a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to have any skills of particular use.
A few months back, I read Dragon Age: The Masked Empire which was written by Patrick Weekes, as well. That book marked the first time I’d read anything by Weekes. While I thought the writing was good in that book, the novel annoyed me for various reasons that don’t necessarily reflect on his writing more than how it worked with the game Dragon Age: Inquisition. The Masked Empire is certainly the better written book, but The Palace Job is much more fun. Also, I hesitate to compare the two books too much since The Masked Empire is a serious endeavor where The Palace Job is a madcap caper meant to tickle the reader.
This book was so much fun to read! There’s a side of me that loves stories like these with action, adventure, and a dash of romance with characters that seem too lucky for their own good. It was almost like reading a book about a Syfy fantasy movie in the vein of Sharknado–garish fun that never takes itself too seriously and really pokes fun as some frequently used fantasy tropes.
I appreciated that Weekes took a typical heist story and combined it with a typical fantasy story, mixed in a good dose of humor, and created this book. The fantasy element of the story placed some limitations on the heist part of the story, and it was interesting to see what Weekes did to compensate for that while weaving the fantasy into it. Parts of the story are predictable, but it’s not so much about not knowing what’s going to happen than enjoying the ride to get there. You can see much of this plot coming a mile away, but getting there is the fun part.
The characters weren’t fleshed out much, but they were such a colorful cast, a real misfit bunch that made me chuckle through most of the book, especially Kail and his one-trick pony–the “yo momma” jokes, which I wouldn’t normally care for in a book. Also, I’m one of those people who loves characters. Give me complex characters that I can spend hours analyzing with friends (just ask Wendy), but while Weekes doesn’t delve much into their pasts and spends more time giving certain characters depth over the others, these were characters I still loved. I enjoyed what they brought to the story in the present situation and how they interacted with one another. I loved their talents, their flaws, and even the parts of the story that made them seem overpowered.
One criticism I have for the book is that Weekes seems to forget that the readers are not inside his head. This may be the result of him working in the gaming industry which is very visual. We get some scenes where we know something is going on, but the writing isn’t descriptive enough to actually tell us what is going on. I’m sure these were grand scenes in his head, but as a reader, they left me scratching my head. Another criticism is that the story felt like it didn’t segue well into the story’s major plot points, and this may relate to my prior observation about the reader not being in Weekes’ head. Things just seem to happen without much transition and build up, but I’m sure they made perfect sense to him.
As far as the narration goes, Justine Eyre reads this book in a voice that I’d called sultry and somewhat breathy, except when she’s doing the characters’ voices. I enjoyed her narration, but I did find myself wondering if she narrated all books in that particular tone. It doesn’t seem like the type of reading voice that would translate well to some other books, but I guess I’ll find out since I have a few more books read by her that I’ll be listening to soon. Despite that, I think she has great range, and she did a wonderful job with accents and the languages in the book.
I know I can be curmudgeonly when it comes to books and my reviews, and this book hits on many aspects that I might complain about in other books. Here’s what it boils down to, though. I don’t mind any book using things that I may not care for.Two things come into play with things like this. First, execution. I can forgive just about anything if it’s executed well. Second, the book itself. An element may work for one because it’s obviously what the author is going for while it may seem out of place in another where the author seems to be going one way, but the writing is going another. Weekes managed to capture things in a way that kept me engaged and listening/reading.
This was a fun, lighthearted read, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading/listening to the story. Do not go into this book thinking you’re going to find anything more profound than, “That’s not what your mother said last night, sir. At least, that’s what it sounded like. Her knees were pressed against my ears the whole time.” However, that is part of what makes this book a fun romp. It felt good to read a book that truly pleased the part of me that just loves a good time.