The Price of Thorns

We rated this book:


We first meet our hero (so to speak), Nivvy, when he is bound to a wheel as punishment for theft. A mysterious woman approaches him and offers him wealth for a job: to steal a ring which will help her win back her kingdom. Nivvy accepts and is thrust into a fantasy epic filled with betrayal, old magic, and talking animals.

I was won over at once by Nivvy’s casual, devil-may-care attitude, especially because it only barely hides a deep sense of caring and even a hint of conscience. Nivvy isn’t an unrepentantly selfish protagonist even at the start, though he’s certainly no paragon. He is, instead, beautifully complex, making an excellent foil for two of the secondary characters, both of whom fall more cleanly on opposing ends of the alignment spectrum.

I was most blown away by the worldbuilding. Susman has not only created an interesting setting for his characters to move around in; he has crafted a full world, one which feels like more than just a set piece or a backdrop for his plot and character development. Perhaps the most important part of this is the stories. There are many folk tales told within the pages of the book, some in full in the narrative, others reserved for an appendix at the back. All of them have familiar trappings from fairy tales readers may already be familiar with, but all still feel fresh and intriguing.

The same could be said of the whole book. The Price of Thorns has many familiar pieces from other high fantasy novels, and at times reading it felt as comfortable and easy as sinking into a warm bath. Susman no doubt expected that, however, and tossed in plenty to keep the book feeling fresh and lively. Part of this, as I mentioned, is the characters’ voices. Each one, from Nivvy on down, has some unique quirk that tells us about the character. There’s no high fantasy formality here. Everyone in these pages talks like a real human being.

The reason I gave this book four stars rather than five is connected to those voices, unfortunately. At times, the voices felt closer to being modern than to being authentic. It shook me out of the narrative at times. I was always able to get right back into the narrative, though, and it was a narrative which I was glad to follow to the end. I highly recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has loved stories from their earliest days.

Reviewed By:

Author Tim Susman
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 508 pages
Publisher Argyll Productions
Publish Date 14-Nov-2023
ISBN 9781614505808 Buy this Book
Issue November 2023
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy


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