Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.
Basically it wasn’t a bad read if you are looking for a brainless fantasy version of Ocean’s Eleven-to-Thirteen. Which is sometimes fine by me. Really fine. Sadly the story wasted a lot of its potential along the way.
One of the most conspicuous mistakes: Kaz Brekker. He is supposed to be that criminal prodigy, a mastermind whose analytical skills are better than those of all NASA computers put together and then some. He plots as he breathes, he is super handsome despite that limping and he is so cunning that nobody has been able to cheat him yet. A genius teen boy. We-eell.
I always feel deeply for such characters because their creators cause them substantial damage. When the author slips, such a character seems more pathetic than ever. And authors are usually far less clever than their creations are supposed to be. A case in question? Kaz is being offered an enormous amount of money in order to break and enter the Ice Court. A heist of the century worth millions. Kaz is so happy with that opportunity that he never checks the merchant he is doing business with, never wonders whether his offer is legit. How can somebody so brilliant be also so stupid? Especially if you, as his creator, claim for one hundredth time that he is an almost diabolically slippery customer who knows pretty much everything about anybody – their preferences, their sins, the amount of money in their pockets.
Another problem with the premise: that super-drug that allows Grishas, magically gifted people, to perform impossible feats breaking the laws of logic, the laws of physics and everything in between. Hmmm…why sensible, down-to-earth people like merchants are after that drug is beyond me. Firstly it’s very addictive and Grishas who take it don’t have a long life before them. They will wither away and die in a matter of months. It means their owners/employers might get a wonder worker but only for a very short time. Mind you it’s hard to find new Grishas because they tend to stay in one country and they can protect their freedom pretty well too. There’s another matter: how you can control/motivate such a powerful creature to work for you especially if they are doing so against their will (as some Grishas are clearly slaves) ? We are talking here about somebody who can stop your heart in a blink or siphon the blood out of your body or make any metal you hold near your person melt into your skin. There are Grishas who can manipulate your mind, turn you into a puppet. There are Grishas who can pass through solid walls and disappear forever. Would you trust them enough to give them a drug which makes them practically indestructible?
So once again: why that merchant wanted the formula for the drug in the first place?
You can also criticize that book for the travesty of the Netherlands it presented. I think the author just made use of her licentia poetica because, after all, it’s a fantasy story aimed at younger audience; still she could have checked this and that two times over in order not to offend her Dutch readers (as she clearly did).
Do you want to hear a story about a group of teenage thieves who take on a special mission to spring a scientist from an impregnable fortress in a fascist land covered by ice ? Yes? Then it is your book. Don’t expect a lot of sense, just allow yourself to be carried away by the roller-coaster plot and you’ll have fun.