The Facefaker’s Game by Chandler J Birch

facefakerThe Facefaker’s Game is a very enjoyable tale of thieves, magicians and deceit.  I enjoyed it and although I don’t think it’s bringing anything particularly new to the fantasy scene it does bring a lot of entertainment, it’s a fun read and it felt as though the pages simply read themselves.  At the end of the day, yes, there are tropes, and some of them may feel over used – but there’s a reason for that – which is we all seem to enjoy them (when they’re well developed – which they are here).  I can’t fault it to be honest – it’s a good read.

Set in the city of Teranis this is an easy to imagine place broken down into different boroughs.  Burroughside is the roughest district and filled with the criminal elements of the City it’s where we first make the acquaintance of Ashes.  Ashes is a Cheeky Chappy.  A lovable rogue. who likes to play the odd con or pick a pocket or two.  He’s not making any big time money here but he’s just about getting by and as he has another person relying on him, somebody who needs to stay in hiding at all costs, he feels the onus is on him to keep going.

Burroughside is a rough, dirty and dangerous place ruled by a cruel crime lord known as Mr Ragged.  Basically if you’re ruling in a neighbourhood such as Burroughside you can’t afford to be weak and Ragged seems to take particular pleasure in providing just how very ‘unweak’ he really is!  On top of this there are monsters that prowl the streets after sunset known as Ravagers – for very good reason, they’re like feral humans, distorted and beast like.  I haven’t truly got a handle on what exactly these creatures are if I’m going to be honest only that you don’t want to stick around when they’re roaming in the dark.  Finally, we have a certain element of the populace known as ‘rasa’, of which Ashes is one.  Basically these seem to be young children who turn up on the streets with no memory of who they are.  Another mystery that still requires some uncovering.

At the start of the story we pretty quickly learn that Ashes is keeping secrets.  He’s forced to sneak around to protect his friend (a friend who Mr Ragged believes is six feet under) and on top of that he’s caught the attention of a particular Gent.  Now at this point Candelestick Jack enters the scene and Ashes manages to wangle himself an apprenticeship.  Jack and his gang are artificers.  They weave and stitch magic and create all sorts of illusions.  This is the sort of magic that creates glamours – put on a hat, turn into a different person or have a different face.  Walls are sometimes not really walls and sometimes floors are really hidden staircases, etc.  Long story short Ashes has magical ability, it doesn’t come easily but it’s there and needs developing, and, as Ashes develops his talent he also develops a plan.  At the same time, Candelstick Jack has his own designs.  He wants to rob one of the nobles – a feat that is rarely accomplished due to the levels of security that they employ.  Both of them are scheming, and neither one of them is being truthful with each other.   Schemes and lies.

I really enjoyed this to be honest.  It’s very well written, in fact I was surprised to discover that this was a debut novel!  The plot flows easily, the pace is fast, the author doesn’t hand hold or feel the need to dump information but instead lets the story develop naturally and seemlessly.  The characters are likeable, or not, as you would expect (and this really isn’t as easy as it may seem), the plot has twists and turns and the author has created a place that is intriguing, grimy and mysterious.  Not everything has yet been revealed I feel which makes this all that bit more interesting.

All told this was a very enjoyable read.  I confess that I went into this one feeling a little belligerent.  I’m not the biggest fan of author comparisons and the write up for this particular novel quotes Rothfuss and Lynch – so yeah, big shoes to be filled right there.  As it happens, Birch needs no such comparisons, he holds his own very well and manages to spin a very entertaining story.

I’m assuming that there is more to follow – well, I’m hoping that there is – as I will definitely read more from this author.

I received a copy courtesy of the publishers for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




16 Responses to “The Facefaker’s Game by Chandler J Birch”

  1. sjhigbee

    This sounds like an entertaining, enjoyable read – and I don’t necessarily need writers to break genre boundaries, given I enjoy reading underworld fantasy, anyway. So thank you for a thorough, readable review, Lynn:). It doesn’t hurt that the cover is to die for, though – like you – I do get a tad exasperated with claims of authors being the new Martin/Gaiman/Lynch/whatever…

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was a really good read. I hope there’s more to come.
      Lynn 😀

  2. jenclair

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I read it several months ago (thanks to NetGalley) and really liked it. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s great isn’t it. I seriously hope there’s a No.2 on the cards.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    I’m trying to catch up and read this in December, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’m in the mood for something fun, so it sounds like it will fit the bill!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was really very entertaining. I think you will like it too tbh.
      Lynn 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Schemes, lies, a difficult heist and magic. With these ingredients it would be hard not to love this book! And I like your descriptions of Burroughside, it sounds like the perfect background for this kind of story! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s a very entertaining and fun read. I’m glad I picked it up and I really hope there is more to come.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Lisa @TenaciousReader

    I’m really looking forward to the next one. Was a really fun book. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I didn’t know if there was a second or not but I really hope so.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Wonderful review! I agree, nothing too new here, but it’s still oh so enjoyable. I hope there will be a book two as well…I mean, it seems that way, but I never want to assume!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really hope there’s more – and it did feel like there would be as there were threads left open. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Bryan

    As much as I like epic fantasy stories having the prospective always being from the view of King Prince Knight or wizard, can get a little repetitive over time. That’s why I enjoy these types of fantasy stories.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I love stories like this and this one was very entertaining.
      Lynn 😀

  8. The best of the best of the best 2016 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Sarah Pinborough, The Hike by Drew Magary, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and The Facefaker’s Game by Chandler J […]

  9. Hiding in plain sight! Hidden gems… | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Facefaker’s Game by Chandler J Birch – For fans of Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch, a picaresque fantasy about a clever young beggar who bargains his way into an apprenticeship with a company of thieving magicians and uses his newfound skills in a vendetta against a ruthless crime lord. […]

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