Now I know a few of you who follow me on here like Mass Effect. Patrick Weekes is the Bioware writer mainly responsible for Mordin and Tali as well as the Genophage/Tuchanka writing for ME2 and ME3. So when he mentioned that he’d written and got his first novel published, I happily made a mental note.
And then when I found out that “The Palace Job” was a clever heist caper in a high fantasy setting — with Weekes gleefully subverting genre conventions in the style of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams — I was sold.
Imagine Ocean’s Eleven with a unicorn. A highly unconventional unicorn with a minimum PG rating.
Weekes’ experience working on the Mass Effect series clearly shines through his skilful juggling of a large cast of colourful characters: there are 9 members in our ragtag band of thieves alone, including a death priestess, an ancient talking warhammer, a disgraced wizard, a gadget-ready safe cracker, and a sixteen year old boy with a potentially world-destroying secret.
Every character is likeable in their own way, with their own unique backstory and key role to play, and with opportunities to interact and banter with each other.
It’s a fun ride with interesting character dynamics. All our thieving accomplices get their own share of character growth too, which is a pretty remarkable feat considering the number of plot threads to keep track of, and a fair amount of fantasy world-building as well.
If that doesn’t interest you, the leader (or Mastermind, for you Leverage fans out there) of our ragtag band of thieves is a true lady BAMF. A war veteran unjustly betrayed and out to steal from the most powerful man in the country, she’s smart, sassy and super kick-ass.
And she’s also black. Yep, this novel goes there. Racial discrimination, class and international politics are themes that are hard to miss even as the story delightfully whizzes on through the predictable but no less enjoyable plot points of a heist story: The Jail Break, Assembling The Team, The First Job, A Plan Comes Together, The Setback, etc.
So, yeah. The book is heaps of fun, action-packed and fast-paced. And like any cool heist story, you can expect double-crosses and double-double-crosses; you’re still going to be wondering nervously how the team is going to get out of each seemingly impossible mess.