Audiobook Review: The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
Series: Rogues of the Republic #1
Publisher: Tyche Books Ltd (September 2012)
Author Info: Twitter
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Loch starts this story in prison, but she won’t be there long. She’s got a mission: to steal back the priceless elven manuscript that once belonged to her family, and now sits in a vault in the Heaven’s Spire, where the most powerful man in the republic resides. To achieve her goal, Loch must gather herself a team of unlikely con artists and convince them that this treasure is worth risking their life.
There’s the plot laid out, but once I met the players, I had trouble keeping my eyes on the prize. And frankly, I’m okay with that.
First of all, let me lay down all the praise for Weekes’ ability to write people of colour like they are *GASP* people. Not foreign objects. Not magical creatures. Not a unique species that shouldn’t really exist in worlds filled with fae and dragons. Weekes isn’t afraid to deal with the racial and cultural differences of his various characters, but when race is a factor, it’s all within context. One of my biggest pet peeves is when writers feel the need to call out race (i.e. skin colour) all the time. It’s usually the only possible identifier for the character and has to be used every time the character is mentioned. “The black man picked up his gun,” or, “He admired the dark swarthy smoothness of her chocolatey skin.” (That said, I did have some trouble discerning the cultural differences that apparently made the other races unique. Everyone else seems to be default white?)
Weekes also answers that troublesome question of “How do you write strong female characters[TM] if you’re a guy??” Well, kids, you write women the same way you right everyone else: like they are human beings (cuz we actually are).
So back to the Job, where we have a team of wonderfully diverse characters, each bringing their unique skill to the heist. A reluctant death princess with a talking warhammer, an Imperial pacifist, a tinkerer, a cynical sorcerer, and a shapeshifting, mindspeaking, poetic unicorn, and the young virgin she pines for. Along with Loch and her loyal fellow soldier, Kail, this group might have bitten off more than they bargained for, especially with Justicar Pyvik hot on their trail. I have to give credit to the audiobook narrator, Justine Eyre, who masterfully brings all of them to life with their own unique accents and mannerisms–sometimes even voicing all the characters within a single scene. All of these characters are so well developed and so much fun, that after a while, I kept forgetting what we were really here for.
Which is a problem that might not entirely be the fault of me having too much fun listening to Kail’s mama jokes, or Ululenia’s fluttery fondness for her virgin. Initially, I liked the way Weekes would occasionally allow his words to skip a moment, letting the reader fill in a small blank. This usually occurred in humourous moments, such as dialogue being cut off when the speaker is kicked in the shins. But after awhile, I started to feel a little lost in terms of where everyone was and where they were going and when scenes changed and moved along from place to place. Weekes’ game writing profession shows through in the lack of clear descriptions and transitions, since he’s no longer working in a visual medium.
Still, I have a vivid imagination and could fill in the blanks well enough. it certainly wasn’t enough to deter my enjoyment of this book. It’s so pleasant to read fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously and can pay homage to the various tropes of the genre, even as it dances all over them. I definitely want more, and am already planning my Ululenia cosplay…