Thanks to Headline for this.
Law student Lex Trent’s world is inhabited by fearsome magicians, ageing crones and a menagerie of Gods and Goddesses. And while Lex is seemingly dedicated to his legal studies he’s always enjoyed a challenge – which is why he leads a double life as the notorious cat burglar ‘The Shadowman’ who has been (luckily) evading capture for years.
But Lex’s luck is about to run out because the Goddess of Fortune has selected him to be her player in the highly dangerous Games. Losing is not an option for Lex (particularly as it so often involves dying) but can he really win each of the perilous rounds? Given that the reward for doing so is money, fame and glory – all things that Lex is quite keen on – he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure he will... and he’s certainly got good experience of cheating.
This was a really fun book to read. I haven't read this sort of fantasy in ages (think Terry Pratchett, Eoin Colfer) so it was nice returning to the genre. At first, it was quite hard to get into. I think maybe this was because Lex isn't really the most virtuous of characters- in fact it's extremely hard to sympathise with him because he's so arrogant and selfish. Right from the beginning we're to understand that Lex is an anti-hero, unlike his twin brother Lucius who appears later on in the book, and whom Lex despises. However, Lex does grow on you, despite his character, and you do end up rooting for him.
The other characters were well-rounded and enjoyable to read about. I particularly liked Schmidt, the lawyer who gets caught up in Lex's adventures in the funniest way possible, and Lucius, who is Lex's complete opposite.
The best aspect of the books, in my opinion, were the mythology and the magic of the world. I loved how there were so many gods who worshippers could actually meet- sort of similar to the gods in Greek mythology, but actually accesible. I also loved how there were so many mythological creatures like minotaurs, Medusa, enchanters, crones, even fairy godmothers! Combining these things with everyday aspects of our lives such as the law firm Lex was working at just made the book more interesting.
The book is extremely fast-paced so I never became bored while I was reading it. There are innumerable twists and turns, especially once the Games start. There is plenty of humour, and even some darker aspects dealing with death, such as the soulless wake and Lex's grandfather. However, these are touched on very briefly, and just increase the substance of the book, making it an even better read.
In all honesty, I'm surprised I liked it so much. I think it's because of all the mythology though- I am a sucker for mythology- and because of Lex's unusual personality (for a hero anyway), and the rest of the well-rounded cast.
I would definitely recommend it to readers of comic fantasy, and even to those who have been unwilling in the past to read fantasy, because the constant action in this book makes it extremely easy to read.