The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

Title: The Blacktongue Thief.
Writer(s)Christopher Buehlman.
Publisher: Tor Books.
Format: Digital.
Release Date: May 25th 2021.
Pages: 416.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


A story is only as good as its storyteller. And if the storyteller is also the adventurer, the traveler who witnesses the adventure first-hand, one can only expect their account to be factual, to derive from witnessed events, to reflect the emotional journey as one lives it. Unless that person is a lowly thief who has learned all the tools of the trade to be cunning, sly, and stealthy. How much can one even trust a person who is only out there to save his own skin, to make ends meet, or to profit from other’s misery? As his first foray into high fantasy, writer Christopher Buehlman (Those Across the River, The Lesser Dead) delivers one of the most immersive, theatrical, and uproarious adventures starring a thief and a knight.

What is The Blacktongue Thief about? The story follows Kinch Na Shannack. Gone from the Straw Farm to the Takers Guild, he now owes the latter a debt he is unable to pay. Marked by a tattoo and condemned to pay his debt, he roams around completing jobs for them, looking for targets to ambush and rob, inching his way closer to his emancipation. Despite his numerous acquired and refined skills in lock-picking, knife-fighting, or even trap-making, he was not ready for the next mark, a knight who survived the brutal goblin wars, a handmaiden of the goddess of death, a lady who will stop at nothing to find her missing queen. Whether he was lucky or not is beyond him, having now survived the encounter with Galva, his fate is thus entangled with her’s, and where life leads them next is straight into a treacherous world brimming with terrifying creatures and no honour code to govern its inhabitants.

“I can see ye think yer clever, and praps y’are, but by my lights, yer nothin’ but a dirty, blacktongue thief and will ne’er be more.

— Christopher Buehlman

This first installment presents a first-person perspective of Kinch Na Shannack’s adventure, where readers fully embrace his dark humour, sarcasm, and wit without any filter whatsoever. Written like a travelogue, each chapter follows him around as he exposes the glorious intricacies of his world, from the various cultures to the numerous creatures. Despite being action-packed, with some truly intense moments interspersed throughout the story, there is a lot of world-building established by the protagonist as he slowly unveils himself to the reader. With his hilarious tone giving him a one-of-a-kind voice, he easily reels the reader into his universe and effectively paints a sneering portrait of the events he witnesses and takes part in. Tagging along with Galva who pretty much captures a completely distinct personality, mostly poised and dutiful, this duo ends up going through some of the most unexpected adventures imaginable.

Full of twists, always embellished by the protagonist’s voice, this story also builds an engrossing mythology that inevitably comes into play throughout this quest rather than remain a simple contextual element to further build this world. By sticking around with the group, especially once a third feline companion enters the stage, the story picks up in pace and capitalizes on fantastic lore elements to keep things going. While each chapter does begin a bit jarring by not allowing the reader to fully understand where things are at, the narrative structure quickly grows onto the reader, especially once you’ve connected to the story’s characters, the character’s humour, and the humour’s grimness. In the end, the unusual companionship and the singular tone, all wrapped up in a mesmerizing and charming world with an alluring magic system, just makes this unputdownable.

The Blacktongue Thief is a riveting journey following a thief and a knight into a complex, action-packed, and ferocious world.

Thank you to Raincoast books for sending me a copy for review!



30 thoughts on “The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

  1. So, with that kindle picture at the end (or whichever ereader it is), is that picture real? Or is it one of those photoshop the cover into a kindle frame? I didn’t even realize that was a thing until I saw another blogger do a whole post about some of the picture tricks they use. It was quite eye opening.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love your description of the main character’s voice, which adds a new level of interest in this book for me! From your words I’ve come to picture the tone of this novel as similar to Abercrombie’s gallows humor, which is one of my favorite elements: if I was eager to read the new Buehlman book before, now I can hardly wait… Great review, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I really think that his voice is what is most likely to intrigue you first and then the world-building, also done through his character! While I’m not completely certain about the Abercrombie comparison, I feel like it’s exactly that and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is! I hope you have a fantastic time with this when you finally get around to it, Maddalena! Thank you so much for reading. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is one I’d certainly like to try. I keep hearing good things about it, and though that’s no guarantee I’ll enjoy it, it is a pretty good indication I might. 🙂 Thanks for the review, Lashaan.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The mythology of this world sounds brilliant and, I love the fact that it comes into play in the story itself and isn’t just used as a prop to expand on the world-building. I’m so happy you enjoyed this one. I can’t wait to read it now.

    Liked by 2 people

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