Tough Travels: Cons and Heists

tough travelsIt’s Thursday again so I’m participating in the Tough Travels meme which is hosted by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn. These posts are fun explorations of common tropes in fantasy, (sometimes) inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Join me in the search for examples of this week’s topic – and don’t forget to check out other people’s lists, they’re wonderful and my TBR pile grows every week because of them!

After two weeks of zero inspiration, I was very, very glad to see this week’s topic: CONS or HEISTS: Smash and grabs are not always the best way to illicitly acquire objects in Fantasyland. Sometimes these things take planning, a loyal crew, and a bit of luck. But a good crew can always get the job done.


Can I just say I have a soft spot for thiefs? And other slightly-less-than-sparkly characters. If they come with the brains to pull off a long con – well, consider me in love.

  1. thorn-of-emberlain-scott-lynchI’m OBVIOUSLY including The Lies of Locke Lamora and the two sequels by Scott Lynch, each of which features a glorious thieving scheme. Locke and his crew are my favourite scoundrels and I still feel like bouncing whenever I think of The Thorn of Emberlain that’s coming this fall.
  2. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins joins the dwarves on their mission to take back the Lonely Mountain, the long-lost dwarvish kingdom. His role is to be that of a burglar or thief, because he’s small and silent and supposedly cunning. I really liked that scene where he crawls into Smaug’s lair, invisible, and plays word games with the dragon.
  3. Vicious by V. E. Schwab. Ok this one has nothing to do with thievery but it does feature a con that involves dealing with a siren, bending space and time, and other dangerous things. I can’t say anything more but Victor Vale is one of my favourite (non-)villains ever (haha, Ever, get it?).
  4. white-cat-holly-blackWhite Cat by Holly Black. I finished this one in 4 hours, I think, and it’s great! Cassel is SUCH a great character and though I’d cheerfully murder most of his family, they do have the knack for conning people. They’re workers (they work magic) but they also employ other tactics to get what they want.
  5. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (my review here). Ok so maybe this wasn’t my favourite book in the world but Eugenides is a great thief and knows the purpose of a long con (Like a reeeeeally long con. Ugh.). I still don’t know if I’ll be reading the rest of the series though I was assured it’s better than the first book!



Which sticky-fingered individual have I missed? 

What awesome scheme would fit onto my list?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

  • Locke Lamora is definitely the obvious one this week, I’m expecting to see that one in many lists :)


    • Yeah, I think so, too, but ever since I predicted Shadowfax was going to be the most popular mount of the week and he barely made it onto 3 lists, I stopped predicting things out loud :D

  • OMG The Hobbit! Perfect choice…why didn’t I think of that?! ;) Cassel is of course wonderful but yes, let’s take out his brothers one by one. They’re jerks – but admittedly quite good con artists. I’m loving The Lies of Locke Lamora so far, I think it’s definitely going to live up to the hype! :D

    • Ugh, Cassel’s brothers… How COULD they? Gah.
      Yeah Bilbo is a sneaky little hobbit! :)
      I’m glad you’re liking Locke and crew – I’ll be looking out for your review. I know you usually read more urban fantasy but you can almost pretend this one is historical/urban :) I’m going to Venice tomorrow and it’s great to see how much it inspired Camorr (at least I think that’s where Lynch took all those canals?!).

  • Benish

    I like the choices you have picked out especially The Hobbit! I think that will be a common pick in several lists, great post overall <3 Benish| Feminist Reflections

    • Yeah, The Hobbit should be pretty popular this week :) I loved that book as a child and I’m always glad to fit it into these lists!

  • Maraia

    When I saw your blog post title on Twitter this morning, I immediately thought of Locke Lamora. I’m excited but also nervous for the next book, because I didn’t love the third one as much. I also am not a fan of Sabetha so far. What did you think?

    Bilbo probably wins the award for Most Adorable Thief. <3

    I listened to a couple minutes of White Cat on audio several months ago, and it didn't work for me. It sounds like I should give it another try, though, not on audio.

    I agree that The Queen's Thief series gets SO MUCH BETTER after the first (incredibly boring) book. I really hope you give them a chance.

    I'm having trouble thinking of more books, even though I know I must have read some. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson sort of fits the category.

    • Ahhhhh NOT A FAN OF SABETHA? We may have a problem :D Kidding (sort of) but I get why some people didn’t appreciate her as much. I liked that she wasn’t perfect and that her choices were flawed and all. Have you read Patrick Rothfuss? Kvothe’s great love, Denna, is – at least for me – Sabetha’s opposite; totally idealized and all.

      I wonder what White Cat would sound like in audio form. I always feel like the narrator can make or break a book, so much hinges on their rendition of it.

      Ok, another Turner fan… I guess I really should continue with the series :)

      Yeah Mistborn has popped up on a number of lists this week! I only read book one and I have terrible book amnesia about it so I never can fit it onto these lists.

      • Maraia

        I LOOOOOVE The Name of the Wind. I’m so excited and terrified for the last book. My memory is super fuzzy on The Republic of Thieves, but I think my biggest problem with Sabetha was how she turned Locke into someone I didn’t like at all. I guess that’s not technically her fault, but I much preferred the bromance of the first book. I’m trying to remember if there were any nice moments between Sabetha and Locke, but I’m drawing a blank.

        If you’re still unsure about Turner, I would maybe wait until the last book comes out. If it ever does. I didn’t think the fourth book was as good as the second or third, so I’m worried that she’s running out of steam.

        I loved Mistborn, but I was significantly less impressed with the rest of the series. (I know that statement would get me kicked out of several circles, haha.)

        • Haha, Mistborn does seem to be one of those series people would defend with their dying breath. I read the first book before I started blogging so I didn’t review it here. I don’t know if I’ll be reading the rest of the series; it just seems like a waste to read books I’m not super-excited about when I have SO MANY other books I want to read. I guess Sanderson just isn’t for me (I choked on his adult series, too).

          Locke was so hung up over Sabetha for so long that it’s clear she changed him somehow… I hope we get to see more of their relationship in Book 4, though, so many things were left unsaid. I mostly enjoyed their banter and attempts to discredit each other! :)

  • You know I think I tried to read The Thief as well because everybody raved about it and I didn’t like it either. In fact I think I dnf-ed it. Glad I wasn’t alone in not loving that book.

    • Yeah I spent most of my time reading The Thief wanting to bash my head with the book (or, alternatively, bash Eugenides and crew with it) but I’m hearing great stuff about the rest of the series. Who knows, maybe it deserves another chance! :)

  • Good pick with The Hobbit! I think you were the only one :)

    • Thanks, but I think I saw it on Bibliosanctum as well :) Bilbo is such a sneaky little hobbit!

  • Good call with Vicious! That one didn’t even cross my mind, but you are right about it. I feel like I might be the last person on earth who hasn’t read The Lies of Locke Lamora:-(

    • Thanks, Tammy! :) I really liked Vicious, it was one of the best books I read last year.
      I hope you give Locke and his crew a chance some day – but then we can’t always read everything, no matter how much we want to :)

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    Here’s to Bilbo Baggins, the most endearing of con artist! :-)

    • That he is :D Especially as portrayed in the movies <3 :)

  • I love cons/heists, although even more as movies than as books. Oceans’ eleven for example. :)
    How about Mistborn con with Vin pretending to be noble lady? I think I would squeeze Sanderson into any of these lists lol

    • Haha, I always say that The Lies of Locke Lamora is like Ocean’s Eleven set in fantasyland :) I love those movies (although the first one is still the best).
      Yeah, Mistborn made it onto a couple of lists this week but I completely forgot about it. Great choice!

      • Ok, now you got me intrigued. Why I haven’t read The Lies of Locke Lamora already! :D

  • Someone else who chose The Hobbit this week! Great list. I found a couple on here that I need to add to my TBR pile

    • Thanks, Tiara :) I hope you like your new additions to your tbr pile! I liked all of these except The Thief…

  • Do we all think Thorn is coming out this year? After how long it took for book 3? That would be something great for sure.

    • Well, it has a publication date (September) and a cover, so that’s something. I’m pretty much at the stage where I’m hoping that if I wish for it for long enough, it’ll come true, fairytale style. :)

  • Great list. I only thought of Sanderson’s Mistborn and Patrick Week’s Palace Job but Hobbit is of course a great choice. I’ve read the Thief but didn’t think of it. It’s been a while since I read it.

    • I think The Thief is one of those forgettable books! :) I’ve heard the rest of the series is quite good but the first book didn’t make an impression on me.
      I’ve seen Mistborn on a number of lists this week – I completely forgot about it!

  • Lynn Williams

    You just have to have the Lynch books on here – it’s got to be the number one first choice for this topic.
    I love the Holly Black Curse Worker series and just finished it a few weeks ago. Really entertaining stories, very well done.
    Lynn :D

    • Yeah, Lynch is the king of great heists :D I wonder what Locke and Jean will get into in Thorn!
      Ooh, it’s great to hear that the rest of the Curse Worker series is good, too, I am so often disappointed in the rest of the series :( You often get a great first book and then the rest is just meh. I will definitely be continuing with this one!