“What do you say, Quarrah Khai? It’s gonna be fun. There’ll be gunfights, dragons, swordplay, narrow escapes…” “Explosions,” Rack added.”
The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides for me was an absolutely amazing, spectacular, and mind blowing extravaganza of a book! From beginning to end my eyes were glued to the pages as the adventure of Ardor Benn intensified with every chapter i passed. Everything I love about fantasy novels is in this book, from dragons, a unique magic system, and characters who shine brighter than an incoming fireball!
The story focuses on the character of Ardor Benn a ruse artist who proclaims himself to be “Ruse Artist Extraordinaire. Ardor Benn is a master at using his cunning wit and skill in conning unsuspected individuals. His partner in crime and the muscle is his best friend Raek aka “Short Fuse”. Raek is the man you come to when you want to be 100% sure you’ll be able to pull something off. He’s a mathematical genius and Ardor’s right hand man.
“Rusing was a craft. An art form. Like the rich folks’ orchestral music some movements slow, some movements swift and thrilling, but Ard was always the conductor.”
After finishing another successful ruse, Ardor is approached by a priest called Isle Halavend. Isle Halavand wishes to recruit Ardor for what can only be called an impossible job. That job is basically to steal the kings regalia crown as doing so would save humanity for its incoming doom. The significance of the crown is that it is made from the egg of a dragon shell.
Ardor can’t steal the regalia on his own however and therefore recruits Quarrah Khai an exceptionally skilled thief. As we follow the ruse and heist to its entirety, Ardor and Quarrah will face many obstacles and discover secrets that will change everything as they know it.
I always find it hard to write book reviews when I loved the book as much as I loved this. Like I wanna tell you but there are no words which could describe how enjoyable my reading experience was. All I can say is just woooow because it was such a brilliant tale full of adventure and fun. The way everything was executed was pure genius in my opinion. Seeing the Ruse unfold with each turn of the page made the level of endorphins inside of me do happy back flips.
Considering the book is 700+ pages I flew through this effortlessly. The book is written in a way which makes you want to keep reading on. I finished one chapter and I was like “okay put it down after this” then Tyler Whitesides ends the chapter with an unexpected twist which made me want to keep pushing through. I literally stayed awake until 3am reading this book at times which I haven’t done in so long.
One of the main reasons I’d say this is was due to the plot twists because my oh my were there many. The heist is riddled with so many setbacks and nerve-wracking moments. You’d be mistaken if you think everything is going to go smoothly in this one. This book is the Jenga of scheming as you slowly discover a lot of lies have been brushed under the rug and as the rug is removed you smell the stench of the lies and deceit.
What further added to my reading experience was how great the characters were. True to his name, Ardor was indeed an extraordinary individual. I loved his charisma, humour, and the fact that he didn’t take anything seriously. Even when things is going wrong Ardor manages to throw a wee quip to ease the tension. But I feel deep down there is definitely more to Ardor than meets the eye. I really hope to learn more about him in the second book as I feel there’s so much more to learn about him.
I also liked the contrasting personalities of Ardor and Raek. Ardor is very much the rash one who acts before he thinks but somehow pulls it off. I guess Raek is the one who tries but fails to keep Ardor’s feet on the ground . Anyway, the banter and dialogue between them both was great. They also work so well together and are able to combine each others skills. Not only are they great friends but their bond is like that of two brothers. We later find out how they became such close friends which I found really heartwarming.
As well as Ardor, we see the story from the POV of Qurrah. At first Qurrah is very much lone wolf as she has been working by herself for a very long time. However, once she gets involved in the ruse and heist Qurrah becomes a key friend to Raek and Ardor. What I really loved was how she grew more and more in confidence. It reminded me a lot of Vin from the Mistborn series.
There are also many great side characters that either help or attempt to foil the teams plans. Isle Halavend, the priest who hired Ardor was really interesting. Some parts of the story are told from his point of view as he is investigating why a Pandemic known as the “Moonsickness” is happening. These parts were really exciting as you slowly begin to make sense why Halavend hired Ardor to steal the regalia crown. Halavend is helped by Lyndel a Trothian and Agrodite priestess. Trothians have thick blue skin and are required to soak daily in salty water.
We also have characters like Elbrig Taut and Cinza Ortemion aka “The Crazies” who are experts in managing disguises. There skills at based on developing intricate identities in order to disguise ones true self.
Later in the story we meet characters such as Nemery Baggish who is basically an encyclopedia of facts about dragons. She is what is known as a caller and is able to make sounds that attract the attention of dragons. She had so much innocence about her that I was so surprised to see her part of Ardor’s criminal activities. I really hope to see more of her in the second book as I loved her facts about dragons.
The main villain in the story is King Petherdote. At first it doesn’t appear that he is a villain but my god when it unveiled that he is actually an absolute bawbag I was shocked! Not gonna lie when Petherdote is angry boooooy does he make his presence known.
Finally, I must say I loved the magic system and the world building. I’m going to do my best to explain the magic system as it’s a bit complicated but so unique. So basically The magic system is unique to this world as it operated through the use of Grit. Now the way in which Grit is made is through…..Dragon poo. Yes you heard right guys, the most powerful magic is made from dragon shite.
Basically, after a dragon has had its munch it’s obviously going to want to you know do its business. Once they have, the dragon will then breath fire upon the excrement allowing it to become what is known as “slagstone”. The slagstone is slowly grinded down and turned into Grit which is sort of like a powder substance. Now grit can be used in a variety of ways from raising or reducing the temperature, impacting ones memory, creating a barrier that acts as a shield, health grit to help you when injured, and also grit that enables you to float.
The magic system is reminiscent of Mistborn and Allomancy which enabled individuals to use metal in different types of ways. To be honest I feel because The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn reminded me a lot of Mistborn added to why I enjoyed this book. Ardor is very much like Kelsier and Quarrah is very much similar to Vin.
In terms of the world building there is a lot history and lore. I can’t say anything without spoiling but you can expect a lot of depth when it comes to the world. There are also a variety of islands and at one point the trio of Ardor, Raek, and Quarrah end up on Pelak which is a dragon island. This part of the story was super super intense and exciting, giving me vibes of Jurassic Park.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn. It was such a fun read with a phenomenal plot and a great group of characters. Super excited to continue this series. Thank you once again to the lovely Angie and Orbit for sending me a copy of this amazing books. Forever grateful .