FIVE GOLD PIECES


The Thieves of Stonewood: Book I of the Stonewood Trilogy: Jeremy Hayes

Unions provide benefits for their employees. You get a pension; health insurance and hopefully people to get you pay raises and defend you when things go wrong. But, what happens when you are a down and out thief, which is your profession or trade and cannot get accept into their Guild which is the equivalent of a union in order to be able to commit crimes and steal? Poor Harcourt is sullen, withdrawn, and down and out on his luck and on top of everything else gets caught for stealing and is thrown in the dungeon for four months. Adept at sleight of hand and quite agile, Harcourt, if allowed could reap in a huge haul if no one stopped him. But, alienated from the most powerful guild, hated by the guards and constantly hit, beaten and abused Harcourt needs to find another way to survive. But, how when al he knows and ever wanted was to be a first class thief. Living in a world riddled with crime, corruption, police that are on the take, thieves, muggers and killers Harcourt needs to press hard to survive. Once a thief always a thief but with a good heart and a definite motivation to help his precious, Jalanna, his true love. Jalanna was seriously burned and her face permanently scarred in a fire causing her to cover her face with a black veil. Many shun at the sight of her bringing tears to her eyes. In order to provide the cure Harcourt needs to present a priest, who claims he can cure her with five thousand dollars worth of gold. But, where is a homeless thief to get such a stash? Throughout the start of the book you get to meet many different thieves, hear their voices and find out much about their world. Within this framework or Stonewood where this story takes place not only is there a Thieves Guild, a demon cult more dangerous than the thieves, the City Guard and corrupt police. The people of this city within many economic groups as it are divided into several districts and only those living in other than the South District are treated fairly.

Illusions are created in many ways and not everyone or everything is what it appears. Forced to leave Stonewood or be killed or beaten by the guards or the guild again he comes face to face with the most notorious and famous bandit or thief in the world. The One-Hand Bandit is what he is called but most know him as a wealthy nobleman. Listening to Harcourt’s story he decides to present him with something special that would change his life and his destiny. What if you could change your appearance at will? What if you could use this magic to create an illusion so powerful that you could pull off crimes and no one would ever know?

Finding his way to the Den to see his girlfriend the encounter allows readers to know where his heart really lies and that the disguise really works. But, everything has its limitations and as Cinderella had to be home at midnight or her coach would disappear, Harcourt could not use this special present for more than three days. Why? No one knows. Hoping to rob as many rich, get the five thousand pieces of gold to help cure his girlfriend, Harcourt forges ahead. But, not before he helps those that were kind to him and one young girl learns the true meaning of friendship and another will now be able to provide for so many others.

The true villains are Randar, Serdic and a guard named Zenod whose love of inflicting pain is almost as passionate as Harcourt’s goal to succeed and safe so many. But, Harcourt is impulsive and at times does not always think things through. Like a kid who wants ice cream and has to have it now, his capers often run awry. Angered by their lose of gold, the King beefing up security, the guard and the guild are definitely on their own high alert hoping to find out who is taking what they think is belongs to them.

Things take a different turn and Harcourt is able to get the gold need to repair his girlfriend’s face and remove her scars. But, one man’s hate for Harcourt turns his fate in a different direction. Facing a lifetime in jail Harcourt is wrongly accused of a murder he would never forget. Captain Dornell, although not one of Harcourt’s biggest fans decides to become his champion four years later. So, can Harcourt become part of an Investigation unit and help solve crimes? Will he find the man who committed the murder he was accused of? Just who is behind the murders of the guild members and who is behind those of the cult? Who committed a murder to mirror that of the one the cult would commit? What was their fatal mistake? Stonewood is not somewhere most people would want to live. A city filled with corruption, murder, hate and revenge on the part of those that are supposed to protect as well as they that want their bounties paid in gold. The innocent have no recourse and the guilty seem to be running the show. Author Jeremy Hayes takes us inside the minds of thieves, muggers, killers and one man you have to love, Harcourt even though he is a master thief.

Just how Harcourt learns the identity of the person who committed the murder he was accused of and why the Captain enlisted his help you won’t believe the twist of fate. Harcourt is smart and not just a thief and saving the life of one of the members of the Guild might help him get what he was after in the first place. How does he trick them into allowing him in? Who else that is close to him is in a position of authority? So many twists, turns and surprises that the author keeps readers guessing as Harcourt takes on more than just the Thieves Guild but the ghosts and the demon cult too. The scenes are quite graphic so not for the feint of heart but definitely so vividly depicted you can paint your own picture and reproduce it in your own mind.

Who winds up as the top thief at the end? What is Harcourt’s plan for revenge? An ending where you might say some get more than their just deserts and another gets an unexpected ending. What’s next for Harcourt and the Thieves Guild? Will the demon cult be eliminated? What about the corrupt guards? The answers we hope to these and many other questions in Book 2 of this trilogy.

Characters so unique and well crafted and groups intertwined to create this intricate plot author Jeremy Hayes will keep readers spellbound using the special magic that he has given Harcourt hoping to make sure that no one closes the book until you reach that very last page.  Deceit, betrayals, trust, loyalties tested, new friendships formed and a caste system within the city and even within the guild, just how will Harcourt survive and what is next for him? Scenes that will make you hold your breath and others that will bring smiles to your face. Who is more corrupt: The Guards, the demon cult, the Thieves Guild or everyone? Who can be trusted? Would you want to entry into one of these groups? Is it worth being a thief? You decide for yourself or you can ask Harcourt!

Fran Lewis: reviewer

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