Book Review: Con and Conjure by Lisa Shearin

Ace
322 pp.

In Con and Conjure, Raine’s family decides to help her stop the powerful political figures calling for her death and for war against the goblins by running a con that will cause the politicians to go bankrupt. Since her family is the Elven Mafia they have the ability and wherewithal to do it. Unfortunately, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The plan is completely disrupted thanks to the goblins gearing up for an invasion and assassins going after the exiled younger brother of the king of the goblins. (Said younger brother would like there not to be a war which means he is facing assassins from both the elven and the goblin sides of the conflict.) Other complications include one of the assassins being Raine’s ex-fiancé and someone attempting to steal the Saghred.

 

I did not like this particular installation in the series. The book is very muddled and relies on cheap humor to move it along. As an example, Raine disguised herself as a male banker using a powerful illusion spell. Apparently, even though she has no idea of what the banker looked like naked, her illusion was so accurate that she knew how big a certain portion of his anatomy was. This becomes a recurring joke throughout the entire book. (Since magic is such a fantastical element, it should make enough sense that you can suspend your disbelief. If something in a story goes outside the established logic or against common sense, you will be thrown out of the story. Also, the jokes were stupid.)

Another aspect of the story that I did not like was the ex-fiancée assassin. Mostly what I did not like was the moralistic stance Raine seemed to take. Her entire family consists of thieves and pirates. Her family is the Elven Mafia and as much as she whines about being judged because of her family background, she still uses them as resources. But her sticking point is apparently assassins, even though her criminal relatives have probably killed many, many people. (I also find it unlikely that there are no hit men in the infamous Elven Mafia Family. I would have had more respect for the character if she had completely rejected her family.)
Overall, I was not very impressed with this book, and found it to be extremely flat.  (I kind of want to sit the author down with a stack of Vlad Taltos novels, most of the Amber novels, and possibly also the Queen’s Thief books and a copy of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and make her read them.) The general impression I get from this book is that the writer attempted to come up with a good con game, realized she could not pull it off and then dragged it back down to the cluttered action adventure of the previous books. My verdict for this book is get it only if you really liked the previous books in the series.
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Filed under fantasy, Lisa Shearin, non-earth, Review: Book

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