The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes


Read December 2016
Recommended for fans of heists, Pratchett
 ★     ★     ★     1/2

Thanks to entirely mixed reviews among my friends, I ended up shelving this as do-not-read. However, when Amazon offered it as a daily deal, I forgot the details of why I didn’t want to read it and decided to see for myself. Concerns included a personal peeve–multiple viewpoints–and a sense that racial issues, while included, are not handled particularly well. Still, a heist often makes for an intriguing and fun read.

“A lock-man, a second-storey operator, and somebody who can jigger with the crystals the Ancients used,” Loch said crisply, “plus anybody who can handle magic and isn’t insane, evil, or overly religious.”

Turns out that it’s entirely fun. Weekes’ biography states he works as a writer on fantasy games, and I think that explains much about the style, which seems to rely heavily on tropes and preconceived world-building with a jumpy, cut-scene narrative. The plot opens with Loch and Kail in prison and about to make their escape. After their sequence finishes, it cuts to Justice Pyvic, a law enforcement officer; a heist with Icy and Tern, then a scene where Loch and Kail are looking for Ululenia the unicorn, a scene of the priestess Desidora and her hammer at a temple card game, another scene with illlusionist Hessler being kicked out of university and a travel buddy and mutual jailbird, Dairy. Once I caught on to the idea that Loch and Kail are “putting the gang together” and that we were seeing future members of the gang in action, it started to make more sense; what remained was to see how their paths connected to Loch and Kail.

“You’re… you’re nothing but thieves!” Red-faced, he ran from the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
“Well… you don’t set up a heist with non-thieves,” Tern commented.  “That doesn’t work as well.”

Plotting is typical heist and fairly predictable. In some parts, an attempt to tie in overarching political machinations was confusing, bogging down with the heist with a half-baked build of opposing political sides.  Overall, the tone reminds me of Pratchett, with farcical elements such as unicorn who lusts after virgins and an innocent farm boy who seems virtually immune to corruption. Characters don’t have much depth: Loch is devilishly smart, self-assured and fabulous, the George Clooney of Oceans Eleven, with an angle for all obstacles. The rest of the team mostly embody their roles without significant background or development. All that said, it was entertaining along the way.

“I have mixed news.”
“Like good and bad?” Kail asked, pouring himself a drink.
“Like bad, very bad, hell no, and maybe,” Tern clarified.

Do I agree with my friends’ objections? In many ways, yes. It depends on what you read for and to what degree you are able to turn off the critical thinking part of your brain. As Carly noted, the heist premise itself usually requires a suspension of disbelief. I agree with her assessment that the more problematic is the build of race(s) in this story. So, if you can turn your brain off, it’s fun, the kind of freewheeling found in the ride, not the destination. Think of it as a roller-coaster ride of reading, minus the $70 gate charge.


About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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4 Responses to The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

  1. The race thing is something I hadn’t considered– I was mostly just surprised to see it dealt with so straightforwardly as an issue, instead of being cloaked in some kind of ‘elves oppressing orcs’ metaphor (which no doubt could get problematic as well).

    I’m not so sure if it was Pratchett-esque in tone– I mean, yes, it’s comic fantasy, but it feels more flavored by D&D/video game level fantasy, as opposed to Pratchett’s brilliant social satire. Then again, just about anyone’s gonna come up short next to Sir Terry, so there. 🙂

    Still, I really liked the book, as I’m another sucker for heists. I’ll have to get around to reading the others in the series one of these days. If you’re in the mood for another fantasy heist (albeit one with a more Chinese flavor), I can’t recommend Joshua Cole’s The Fox Who Stole Hong Kong enough. Look it up on amazon sometime!

    • thebookgator says:

      I understand what you are saying about ‘straightforward’ instead of the veiled metaphor. That makes sense. That said, I appreciate Carly’s point about muliplicity of ‘slave races’ and complex history. He goes into it a tad more in the next book, which feels even more awkward.
      Heists are a fun break for me, but I’m finding back to back may not be the best idea (I started the next in the series). Like the suggestion on The Fox, thanks! I’ll add it to my list. 🙂

  2. Eric Lind says:

    I suspect that “Brent Weekes” in your post title, as opposed to “Patrick Weekes,” is a typo and not a joke. I noticed the incongruity and thought I’d point it out since my first thought on seeing the post was, “I didn’t know Brent Weeks had done a heist novel.” If this wasn’t a mistake and I just missed the joke then I’m sorry for bugging you.

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