Given all my complaining about fantasy these days, I was all prepared to dismiss this book. The title made me think of C.S. Lewis' Horse and His Boy
, and that's my least favourite Narnia book, so my hopes were not suffering from any inflation.
But then, while this book didn't blow me away, it did sneak inside enough to keep me interested, and eventually concede that somehow, this was a bit different from all the other fantasies I've been reading. Or that the writing was good enough to set it apart a bit. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I ended up enjoying this a great deal more than I was expecting.
The young streetrat thief and his adventures weren't particularly what grabbed me, not even when he robbed a house for a thieves guild, succeeded, opened the magical box in the process, and then was poisoned and thrown down the chimney by the thief he was with. I didn't find Jute that compelling. But I did like the hints of magic world that had mostly faded. And the incarnations or avatars of the varoius elements starting to awaken is probably what caught my attention the most.
This book is largely world-building for further books, so not tons happens, other than to set the scene. But these incarnations or avatars or whatever are gradually becoming aware of who they are and who they have been, and that awakening was interesting.
At any rate, this isn't a revolutionary entry on the fantasy scene, particularly not in its vaguely young-adult trappings. But the stories of the adults around Jute, the main character, were far more interesting and complex, and I will want to see if further books hold up to that promise.