A ragtag crew with forbidden magic must pull off an elaborate heist and stop a civil war in An Illusion of Thieves, a fantasy adventure from Cate Glass.
In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.
Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy's aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.
Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they'll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.
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This awkward debut novel builds a complex world of political intrigue and magic, but slow pacing and a lack of focus on the central plot make for a slow start to a larger series. In the mythical land of Costa Drago, Romy of Lizard's Alley must give up her life as the courtesan of the city's leader, il Padron , to save her family from being put to death as punishment for her brother's use of forbidden magic. In addition, Romy must learn to control her own powers in order to stop a plot against her former lover. While the details of the setting are intriguing, so much time is spent building it that the "epic plot" to overthrow il Padron feels like an afterthought with no real risk of succeeding. Romy has hardly used her magic, but command of it comes easily when she needs it to. The magical team Romy assembles is strong, but their magical abilities are not clear; meanwhile, no effort is spared to describe the colors of the various nobles' livery. Readers who enjoy European-style secondary worlds and don't mind slow pacing will appreciate this tale of illegal magic and hope the sequels do more to develop the characters.