Jul 23, 2016: If you’re looking for a one sentence summary, For Riches or More is an incredibly solid, well-written story that’s definitely worth your time. Go put it in your mind-holes, or however you kids are consuming information these days.
Unlike . . . gee, probably like 90% of the stories that’re popular on here, FRoM is 100% realist fiction. Unless there’s a very, very unexpected twist coming, it’s firmly grounded in reality; the author even seems to have a reasonable grasp on how actual hacking works. I’m no expert myself, but it at least comes off as correct, which is, frankly, good enough. The story follows Devlin O’Brien, an Irish master thief. Betrayed by a former partner, and incarcerated for three years, he emerges just in time to be caught up in the machinations of parties far larger than himself, and be given an offer: hunt down the man who betrayed him, and the masters he serves. It’s a good plot, with lots of little twists and turns, mysteries and reveals, and it rollicks along at an appropriate pace: not quite breakneck, but definitely driving. The author has an excellent grasp of pacing, cliff-hangers, and call-backs; the writing is easily professional level. (Hell, I’ve read professional novels shakier than this.)
Devlin himself is probably my biggest . . . I don’t want to say problem, because it’s not one. He’s my biggest bugbear, then, with the story. He’s not a bad character or narrator (first-person), and in fact I enjoy reading from his perspective. However, especially in the earlier chapters, he is very generic. Young-ish white guy, snarky, brains over brawn, etc. It took me a while to realize it, but he reads very similarly to Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, and I’d be very surprised if that was a coincidence. Still, that impression lessons once he gets other sympathetic characters to interact with, and again, reading form his perspective wasn’t actually a bad thing.
Speaking of the rest of the cast, the quality’s maintained there too. Diverse and distinct, broad & well-rounded. I found myself particularly enamoured with Asher Knight, the main antagonist, who is delightfully twisty and conniving, while still surprisingly sympathetic. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s one completely despicable character who’s done well enough I actually felt genuinely uncomfortable while reading from his perspective.
The only thing that stops me giving FRoM a 4.5 (I reserve 5 stars for life-changers) is that . . . well, it doesn’t really stand out. It is very solid, don’t get me wrong, and I like it enough that I’d happily recommend it to my friends, but it doesn’t really do anything new. And that’s fine! It’s still well worth your time anyway; don’t let my weird criteria persuade you otherwise. And who knows? It’s not over yet, and perhaps I’ll be proven wrong.
In the meantime, For Riches or More is still an engaging, edge-of-your-seat heist thriller that’s more than worth the metaphorical paper it’s written on.