The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman- A Book Review

The Blacktongue Thief


Kinch Na Shannack owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for his education as a thief, which includes (but is not limited to) lock-picking, knife-fighting, wall-scaling, fall-breaking, lie-weaving, trap-making, plus a few small magics. His debt has driven him to lie in wait by the old forest road, planning to rob the next traveler that crosses his path.

But today, Kinch Na Shannack has picked the wrong mark.

Galva is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and handmaiden of the goddess of death. She is searching for her queen, missing since a distant northern city fell to giants.

Unsuccessful in his robbery and lucky to escape with his life, Kinch now finds his fate entangled with Galva’s. Common enemies and uncommon dangers force thief and knight on an epic journey where goblins hunger for human flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters, and honour is a luxury few can afford.

Author: Christopher Buehlman

Publisher: Gollancz

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 418

Release Date: 27/05/2021

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ‘The Blacktongue Thief’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon, Audible


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What do a thief, a mercenary and a blind cat have in common? It might sound like the start of a bad joke, but it’s the meat of a good book.

The Blacktongue Thief, through the medium of first person narrative, is told in a very distinctive voice (that of Kinch Na Shannack). Our thief, who seems talented in the ways of getting on the wrong side of everyone he shouldn’t, is forced into a suicidal mission of travelling to a city under siege. Why? He doesn’t know. He’ll find out when he gets there apparently. Not the kind of mission you’d agree to unless your life, and that of everyone you care about, would be snuffed out were you to refuse. Good job they were the stakes, otherwise the book might have been Kinch sitting around, drinking and playing cards.

The tale itself feels a tad disjointed until partway through. The people he meets lead him on errands of their own and you wonder how it ties in with the overall story and why you should care. But it does tie in and it does so very well. My main downside with the book is that interactions between characters feel somewhat forced/stiff/wooden/a whole other array of adjectives to get across that they just don’t always seem to work. Which, given the uniquely realistic voice of the overall narrative, is somewhat of a let down (not always, just occasionally). 

One thing that is done well, however, is interactions between characters who don’t speak the same languages. In most fantasy novels everyone just happens to speak the same language or is capable of it to a good enough degree that it barely matters after the first meeting. In this, it feels a bit more realistic as certain conversations are had with the snatches of the lingo the characters know and a great deal of hope that they’re not misunderstanding what’s being said. It gives the book an added feel of realism rather than the ‘everyone just speaks the common tongue. That’s why it’s called the common tongue’ garbage that is often forced onto readers by lazy storytellers.

And lazy, given the world, the magic system, monetary system and religious beliefs that are on display, is certainly something that Christopher Buelhman cannot be accused of. The whole world of The Blacktongue Thief feels rich and deep without ever having the author info-dumped into your lap and call it worldbuilding. 

Overall, I really enjoyed The Blacktongue Thief and I’ll be first in line when book two comes out. Kinch is an intriguing man who lives in an intriguing world, and I’d love to get to know him, and everyone else, that little bit more. Would recommend to anyone who wants a gritty, intriguing fantasy novel.

6 thoughts on “The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman- A Book Review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s