This is a brilliant piece of storytelling that any fantasy or action/adventure lover should go and read this. However before I divulge more information in that manner I would like to raise a few points. My first point being about fantasy in general while my second point will be about cliché and storytelling.
Fantasy as a genre in many ways was formed with [b:The Lord of the Rings|33|The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)|J.R.R. Tolkien|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347257199s/33.jpg|3462456] and then shortly afterwards, as much as people dismiss it, [b:The Sword of Shannara|15575|The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy #1)|Terry Brooks|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1218672503s/15575.jpg|877015]. Subsequent books appeared such as [b:The Wheel of time series by Robert Jordan|7932486|The Wheel of time series by Robert Jordan (1-11)|Robert Jordan|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1319403857s/7932486.jpg|1098573] which added to the sense of epic adventure and mythology fantasy was associated with. However in recent times, it seems as an attempt to escape the overworking of ideas and becoming too stereotypical as works such as [b:Eragon|113436|Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)|Christopher Paolini|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1293505063s/113436.jpg|3178011] most certainly are that fantasy has decided to go in dark directions. We therefore have the rise of gritty realism such as in [b:A Game of Thrones|13496|A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)|George R.R. Martin|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359134576s/13496.jpg|1466917] or the weird fantasy as in [b:Kraken|6931246|Kraken|China Miéville|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320551670s/6931246.jpg|8814204]. Some authors do manage to pull off these new gritty and bizarre forms of fantasy for me. For instance I find Neil Gaiman's [b:Neverwhere|14497|Neverwhere|Neil Gaiman|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348747943s/14497.jpg|16534] a fine combination of the gritty and weird but then Gaiman's work is more urban fairytale than epic fantasy.
It appears to me that the movement towards gritty fantasy is due mainly to do with the sense that there are few good original stories in fantasy any-more. The sense that in writing the heroic traditional sword and sorcery epics the writer drifts into cliché and as such could not possibly write anything worth reading. Yet then why is it that writers such as [a:Brandon Sanderson|38550|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1201547425p2/38550.jpg] can continue tradition with [b:Mistborn: The Final Empire|68428|Mistborn The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1312038619s/68428.jpg|66322] and [b:The Way of Kings|7235533|The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1316131688s/7235533.jpg|8134945]? Why can [a:Patrick Rothfuss|108424|Patrick Rothfuss|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1351307341p2/108424.jpg] break into the market to great critical acclaim with a work in the traditional sense? And the same question could be asked of [a:Blake Charlton|1916427|Blake Charlton|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1252026895p2/1916427.jpg] and his work. I believe that we as readers need stories where the heroes are heroic, despite possibly facing struggles within themselves, and that we need villains who with all their melodrama are indescribably evil. As such Theft of Swords delivers precisely what I believe fantasy readers need.
Theft of Swords is essentially two books containing two separate stories. I believe the author described his vision as akin to a reading version of tv show episodes. And that is certainly witnessed here. Michael J. Sullivan creates two separate yet overlapping stories that leave the reader wanting more after they are done. I certainly feel led to drop what I'm currently reading and move straight onto the second and third books.
For those who would like a brief synopsis Theft of Swords (I love the resonance of that title) follows two thieves as they attempt (within two stories) to steal two separate swords. Of course our thieves are more than black hearted scoundrels. They are real heroic types who appear to be misunderstood by their medieval society. The reader discovers that their world is one suffering from the collapse of an old empire thousands of years ago and one in which the major religion worships the emperor Novron.
There are plenty of twists (which while detectable are still entertaining), lots of fun banter between the protagonists, several other interesting side characters and several mysteries all of which is tied together with fast paced quality writing. If you're looking for entertainment then this is definitely a place to begin. There is over 600 pages in this volume but if you have the time to just sit and read time will fly as you become intrigued by who the two thieves are within a world of elves, dwarves and men that parallels other fantasy and yet is its own creation. The closest work it reminded me of in tone is another I rather love written for Young Adults and yet equally accessible for adults in The Ranger's Apprentice series which begins with [b:The Ruins of Gorlan|60400|The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1)|John Flanagan|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1293952830s/60400.jpg|810498].
This is a work of fiction no one should miss reading if they are looking for a fun entertaining read. Particularly on a wet winter's day (or on a sunny summer's day under the shade of a tree with a snack or two). If you're looking for a work lacking in cliché then I must say that you might have a bone to pick with this. But I believe the author's job is not to be completely original (for is there such a thing as true originality?) here but rather to tell a powerful story. For I believe that the true future for the fantasy genre lies not in becoming darker but rather by taking old heroic tales and telling them better. What good is a dark and gritty adventure when in the end it lacks substance to its story? Good storytelling must always come first and that is what Theft of Swords is: powerful and natural storytelling.