Synopsis: An epic adventure in the world of speculative fiction.Ramagar was a thief–a thief of thieves. One night he became the owner of a prize beyond his wildest dreams, taking he and his partner, Mariana, upon an incredible journey to free a once-proud land shrouded in darkness for centuries.
Author: Graham Diamond
Title: The Thief of Kalimar
Publisher: Venture Press
The Thief of Kalimar was originally published in 1979. I discovered it on Netgalley, however, as Venture Press re-released some of Graham Diamond’s titles in 2016. The writing style and type of fantasy has the feel of the epic quest that was predominant for these times.
I expected the title of the book to be a clue as to the main character. Although Ramagar plays his part, he isn’t nearly an important enough character to have the book named after him. Apart from a few chapters at the beginning and some moments near the end, the narration doesn’t follow him: the focus is on Marianna.
Marianna is a strong enough lead: her character has the traditional journey to undertake and fate intervenes to give her role more importance: she is the one to overhear things, to hide the dagger, to be in the right place at the right time etc… Although afraid, she is not a timid woman to be patronised and protected. I liked and connected to her character and thought her development throughout is realistic.
It had been a strange set of circumstances that had brought these four together and made them companions – and even stranger circumstances that had brought them to share their lives. A thief, a dancing girl, a child of the streets, and a most unusual beggar.
Marianna, however, appears to be the only character you connect with. The mysterious prince/beggar is never given a name; an interesting tactic once you realise, especially considering the part he plays in the story. Homer had the potential for so much, but isn’t given the opportunity to grow. Ragamar is supposedly this incredible thief, yet you never witness his thieving, nor does it ever help them.
Other characters are introduced as the tale unfolds. They are all likeable enough, but they never shone for me. Marianna steals the show, and is worthy of being the main character.
The Thief of Kalimar is slow paced. For the first part of the book, the tension needs to be increased to really hook the reader. I personally connected to the story and the characters when they were at sea, facing danger from all angles and finally understanding the type of quest they are on. In other words, when it started getting interesting.
As with any quest story, there is a lot of travelling. Although I felt for the plight of the land they had set out to rescue, I did feel there were some inconsistencies. For example, no one has returned from those lands alive, yet the characters were remarkably well informed about the threats they may face before they even get there. There is no explanation as to where this information comes from, other than as a plot-device to instil fear into the characters and therefore increase the tension.
Despite the slow pace and the difficulty connecting to some of the characters, I did enjoy this book. It’s the type of fantasy that I love, especially given the overwhelming odds the characters face. There was a clear struggle between good and evil (it’s helpfully named as such as various places as well!), an enemy that is easy to hate and characters determined to give up whatever it takes to succeed. In general, a solid story.