Audiobook Review: The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

Palace JobThe 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

Narrator: Justine Eyre | Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Brilliance Audio | Whispersync Ready: Yes

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.

66235-new3-5stars

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24 Comments on “Audiobook Review: The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

  1. I’ve had a copy of this sitting on my e-reader for ages now, but I’ve never quite found the time. A madcap caper meant to tickle the reader, with crude jokes like that, sounds like a perfect read for my mood lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d been having a stretch of reading very serious books lately, and I wanted to break out of that. Aside from this, I’ve read Pratchett’s The Color of Magic and White’s The Once and Future King. All lighter reads, but this one has been the best with getting me to smile and have fun (followed closely by Pratchett’s book). I definitely recommend it, especially since it gives a new spin on the heist story.

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  2. I’m glad to hear that this one was more agreeable for you than The Masked Empire. Just from reading your update statuses on Goodreads and now this review made it sound like you had a good time with it. I’m curious to see how the fantasy caper angle works out. I’ll put this on my to-be-read pile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Try it. You have Kindle Unlimited, right? It’s part of that, so you could read it for free. I think you’ll like it, and then, we can read the second book together.

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  4. I had the same issue you had with Weekes’ writing in this book – maybe at the time he was too used to writing for video games because the style definitely had a “cinematic” or movie like feel to it. Reading it was like watching something play out on screen, but like you said it’s like sometimes he forgets that we can’t see inside his characters’ heads unless he tells us what they’re feeling.

    I’m looking forward to picking up Masked Empire just to see if his writing still has this quirk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If he did this in Masked Empire, it wasn’t as obvious. That might be because I know Dragon Age. Even at the time I read that book, I had a clear idea of the characters, the landscape, etc. I do think he did much better with action descriptions in Masked. Not that his actions sequences were always confusing in this book, but sometimes, I’d found myself asking “How does that work?” while reading this.

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  7. It’s true, it really feels like a book written by a video game writer – all snappy dialogue and combat and wild hijinks. As you pointed out, not the greatest written book…. but so much fun to read, and I laughed out loud many times. I cracked up so much at the grandpa zombie at the end. And I lost it when Kail made the ‘yo momma’ joke in French. I’m laughing just thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a riot. I had so much fun. I think I lost it at Kail insulting people in other languages, too. And Desidora was like: “Gods, you know that in EVERY language?” Ululenia had me laughing about her and Dairy, too. Poor Dairy. It was just a fun book, especially when you need a laugh. Did you read it or listen to it on audiobook?

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      • I read the ebook. I have actually only recently listened to my first audiobook ever! Haha. So, it’s a new thing for me. 😛 It seems like you enjoyed the narration… I’d be curious to hear what accents she does for the different characters! I kind of imagine the Imperial characters as British (thanks, Star Wars).

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        • LOL. Actually, Icy sounded like he might’ve had a type of Asian-esque accent. Wendy and I discussed this. I said I might just think that because the foundation of his character seems to have a lot of Buddhist/Tao eastern influences. He definitely didn’t sound British, though. Tern sounded like she could’ve been French, and just about everyone else sounded British. Her Ghyl was amazing! LOL. She did such an excellent job with the non-english speakers.

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        • Also! Congrats on your first audiobook. I used to kind of avoid them, but they’re fun for comedic books like these and I’ve also learned I can listen to them while I kill… I mean gather elfroot in the Hinterlands and knit and clean and exercise. So I’ve gotten into them more.

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  8. Haha, that makes a lot more sense than British! Good stuff.
    And thanks! Based on my first experience prefer physical/digital books, but I’m thinking I will keep a few on hand for when I’m in transit, or washing wishes, or gathering elfroot, as you suggest.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Trust me, I understand. It has taken me many years to appreciate them. I had to listen to light reads like this at first because it was so easy for me to be distracted. Then, as I started having to travel out of town more, I started listening to more, and then when I realize I could listen while doing mundane tasks, it got even better. It’s probably taken me 6 years to get here. I used to also get frustrated that the readers seem to read way slower than I did but then u learned the joys of speeding up narration. LOL.

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