I have always been a fan of Alexandre Dumas and the Musketeer novels, so when I find a new series that espouses the same sort of derring-do adventures set in the romantic era of the 17th century, I’m all over it. Sometimes I’m disappointed. Other times, I strike gold. And gold is exactly what I found when I read J.M. Aucoin’s new historical adventure novel, Honor Among Thieves.
The story opens in 1609 with our hero, erstwhile French solider-turned-highwayman, Darion Delerue, sitting in a smoky tavern, stalking his next mark. But far from being the typical ne’er-do-well soldier of fortune, we find as the story unfolds that Darion has a past full of secrets and a heart filled with honor. As he heads into Paris to rescue a fellow highwayman who was captured by the King’s Guards during a robbery and now languishes in a dank prison cell, he encounters the ghosts of his past – friends and foe alike – who ensnare him in a dangerous web of political intrigue and personal vendettas.
Darion is a classic conflicted soul, a character Mssr. Dumas, the master of the genre, would have had no trouble warming to. In fact, all of the characters in Honor Among Thieves are well-drawn and three dimensional. And lest you think that means this is a book of talking heads, let me assure you – there are more than enough well-written, excellently choreographed sword and pistol fights and other miscellaneous acts of derring-do to keep the action fan happy. All in all, it is a fun mix of exciting and dramatic story-telling, with characters you can’t help caring about.
Aucoin also does a great job with the setting. You can feel the chill air of a Parisian winter, smell the rotting sewage in the streets and marvel at the excess of the Louvre Palace. But unlike many historicals, the prose isn’t overburdened with extraneous and overly-gilded descriptions. You get the feel of the world with well-placed details – enough to sink you into the times, but not so much it overwhelms you.
Bottom line – if you’re a fan of historical adventure (and perhaps wanted to be Captain Blood or Don Diego de la Vega as a child like this reviewer did), you’ll definitely enjoy Honor Among Thieves.