Feb 5, 2017: For Riches or More is a lovingly detailed take on the concept of a Heist movie franchise. A team of good hearted misfits and rogues complete serial capers in an attempt to thwart a dastardly schemer with nefarious aims. It feels a lot like a novelization of a (nonexistent) movie franchise, similar to the Oceans IP.
There is a lot to like in For Riches Or More.
Fundamentally, the most important thing about the series is that it GETS its characters. Within a chapter or so of any character’s appearance you can run a simulation of that person in your mind, and basically suss out how they would react to a given scenario. There is something behind their eyes, if you will.
The time spent getting to know these characters pays off whenever the pace intensifies, as the author doesn’t have to spend any time establishing how each character feels about what is going down . . . you already know it. This generally allows the pacing to ramp easily up and down as the story requires.
Pacing is the second strong point of the series, and it is the reason why the story can be as long as it is (it is very long) without losing readers. The author has mastered the time honored pattern of lulls leading into action, then back into lulls. Plan, execute, complication, adaptation, success, discover that success leads to next case, repeat.
The last noteworthy strength that I’ll highlight in this review is the setting. The author has gone with a sort of magical reality version of our world, which will be familiar to anyone who has seen a heist movie. Masterminds, henchmen, vaults and so on. The setting never cuts in on the action, never forces the pace to lag while you are introduced to something you’d need to know for the next twist.
The failures of FRAM are generally problems of the genre, rather than execution related.
The main character is not persuasive as a criminal. Like, fundamentally, this is the Pirates of the Caribbean "He’s a pirate . . . and a good man" problem. It isn’t unique to FRAM, and basically any heist movie has to grapple with it, but you can’t really examine the ‘why’ of the heroes as criminals and get anything that makes sense.
The other bone I’ll pick is that the potential sequels hover over the project throughout. You are constantly reminded that behind the antag stands larger antags, to whom this guy who is giving our crew so much trouble is merely a pawn. The question of whether they are accomplishing anything keeps recurring, and the characters basically never have time to address it.
Fundamentally, if you like a good action story, this one is one of the greats. It is free to read, it is long and well written. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot.