“I’m hiring you to steal the king’s crown.”
Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.
When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.
But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory -Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.
My Rating: 4 Stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Does anyone else see the word heist in a synopsis and immediately decide they need to read that book? Please tell me I’m not the only one with a mild obsession for ruse artists and thieves. Morally gray characters are basically just my catnip.
The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn started off exactly where you want a heist novel to begin – in the middle of a job. The action was near continuous from that first page all the way through to the end of the book. The pacing was honestly immaculate without a single dull moment. I mean, do you really expect a dull moment when you know that the book you’re reading centers around a crew trying to steal from the king?
The magic was incredibly unique in this book. Basically, different items are…passed through dragons and then processed and broken down in order to produce different types of a substance called grit. There are different kinds of grit, all of which serve individual purposes. For example, if you pass a human skull through a dragon and then process it, you get something called memory grit, which creates a bubble that causes anyone inside of it to forget everything that happened within that bubble the moment it dissolves. There is also grit drift, which makes things weightless, and countless other types of grit that are used in really clever and inventive ways throughout the plot of the novel. This was honestly one of my favorite things about The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn and I absolutely look forward to learning more about grit in future books.
For those wondering, this does have a hint of romance, but as the primary focus of the book is the heist, the romance takes the back seat for the majority of the book. I do wish that we could’ve seen the development of that romance, but also understand that it may have slowed the pacing of the book. The romantic interest had her own POV and it was great to see Ardor Benn from a different perspective.
The cast of side characters added a lot of great comedic relief to the book and almost made me love Ardor Benn more, as his interactions with them were always fun to read. They were well fleshed out and their history with Ard helped flesh out his character as well. The Thousand Lives of Ardor Benn is a book marketed to fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I can definitely see why. Though Locke is a bit more morally gray than Ardor, there is a very Jean and Locke dynamic between Ard and his best friend. Their relationship was fun to discover and I found myself looking forward to scenes between the two of them.
There were a few things that kept this from being a five star read for me, despite the fact that overall I really enjoyed the read. As previously mentioned, the romance felt a bit rushed as we didn’t get to really see it develop. Though it happened over the course of months, those months were glossed over. Additionally, there was a sudden change in Ard that seemed to happen a bit out of nowhere. I understand its purpose in the plot, and am interested to see where things go in the next book but it was completely unexpected for me.
Overall I definitely enjoyed Ardor Benn and will continue the series this year! For a 700+ page book, it honestly flew by and felt much shorter, taking me less time to complete than most books of the same length. The covers for this series are being repackaged, and book three in the series will be released on December 1st. I LOVE the new covers and have featured them in the above picture on my Instagram today!