Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Review: Good Guys

Good Guys Good Guys by Steven Brust
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had people enthuse to me about Steven Brust more than once, but his main series is large and sprawling and not exactly my thing, and I've never found a point of entry to his work. When I saw this on Netgalley, a new series starter in a new genre for Brust, I thought I'd give it a try and see if he was actually as good as I'd heard.

He is. Not only is this written with assurance and strong craft, not only does it have highly entertaining banter among the diverse, distinct, and non-generic characters, but it also pulls off the difficult feat of having both moral complexity and a clear moral stance. The characters are imperfect and troubled, the reality they're dealing with is imperfect and complicated, and ultimately there isn't a "side" that is unambiguously and definitely the "good guys"; and yet most of the key characters, in their different ways, are striving to be "good guys" in their own terms, and some are even succeeding. It's noblebright, not grimdark, but it's noblebright with a lot of nuance and some extensive grey areas - yet ultimately hopeful.

I found the author's choice to write first-person sections from the perspective of the antagonist, and mix them with omniscient narration about the protagonists, an interesting one. I'm not sure exactly what it does; perhaps its function is to humanise the antagonist, so that we can see how he, too, in his distorted way, thinks he's a good guy, or at least a justified one.

The plot - agents of a secret cabal of sorcerers hunt down an assassin - is well paced, with good tension. Overall, excellent, and I would definitely read a sequel.

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