Sunday, 16 August 2015

Starwatch Review

Book review:  Starwatch, by Ian Blackport.

Don't take any notice of the title. Starwatch has nothing to do with astronomy – this is a fantasy caper novel. The heroine, Cyriana, is a thief who collects a disparate team of criminals to carry out an audacious heist. The target is Starwatch, a rich and powerful university. The novel charts the preparations, planning and execution of the job, and we get to know the team and some of their stories as the plot progresses. There are a number of twists as the team prepare for the job. If you've see films like The Italian Job then you'll have some idea of the structure. Starwatch is a very good example of taking a genre – in this case the crime novel – and crafting a fantasy version.

Starwatch is not set in an overtly fantasy world - no elves, dwarves or significant magic – but there are enough differences to make it clearly not our Earth (not least the two moons in the sky). The cultures Cyriana sneaks through are well drawn and interesting, the renaissance-style feel to the world is nicely portrayed and is refreshingly unsexist. The book also has enough sly humour to make it a good read.

The plot itself is entertaining, and the characters are complex and individual – Cyriana herself is a great character (I'm always delighted to encounter a strong, capable female lead - Cyriana and Sorrel would get on well), but her comrades in crime are also intriguing (in all senses!). They are none of them flawless, but most are likeable - they are rogues, not monsters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have no hesitation in giving it five stars.

It's available here

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