A Smuggler’s Path by I.L.Cruz
I was very kindly gifted a copy of A Smuggler’s Path in advance of the blog tour for A Noble’s Path. The blurb reads:
In Canto, magic is a commodity, outlawed by the elites after losing a devastating war and brokered by smugglers on the hidden market. But some know it’s more—a weapon for change.
Inez Garza moves through two worlds. She’s a member of the noble class who works as a magical arms dealer—a fact either group would gladly use against her. Neither know her true purpose—funding Birthright, an underground group determined to return magic to all at any cost.
But the discovery of a powerful relic from before the Rending threatens her delicate balance.
Inez’s inherent magic, which lies dormant in all the Canti, has been awakened. Now the Duchess’s daughter, radical and smuggler must assume another forbidden title—mage, a capital crime. This will bring her to the attention of factions at home—fanatical rebels bent on revolution, a royal family determined to avoid another magical war, her mercenary colleagues at the hidden market willing to sell her abilities to the highest bidder—and in Mythos, victors of the war and architects of the Rending.
Evasion has become Inez’s specialty, but even she isn’t skilled enough to hide from everyone—and deny the powers drawing her down a new path.
As you can see, this book has A LOT of ideas. In the beginning there is quite a bit of explanation of the world which takes a little while to process, but this could be said of any fantasy book. Inez’s world is a land which was pulled from the sea after people with magic were driven from the mundane world, and it is protected by a magic barrier to hide them. I was a bit confused and overwhelmed for the first few pages of the book, as the reader is thrown right into the thick of the action, but the more I read the more I wanted to read on. Once you have got used to the various ways magic works and the workings of the world the plot is really quite good, and I found myself desperate to know what would happen next.
There are a few fantasy clichés used, such as a letter from a deceased relative and a parent who has hidden something from their child, but these are weaved in amongst many unique and fun details such as Froth, the milk bar where smugglers and guards alike spend time, and the seemingly random appearance of lots of different characters. They can be slightly hard to keep track of, thankfully there is a useful glossary of characters at the start which I made use of frequently. There seems to be a random element to the plot in some places, leaving me wondering what just happened, but it does all have a purpose eventually, it just sometimes takes a while to discover it. I liked Inez, the main character. She never did anything insanely stupid or unreasonable which some fantasy MCs sometimes do in a rather frustrating way, she made decisions and stuck to them the best she could.
I can say with certainty that this book is never boring. It is packed full of action and mystery and intrigue and plenty of plot twists. A Smuggler’s Path takes time to pull everything together, and I wish it happened a bit sooner, but when it does it is awesome. I was definitely missing the presence of any LGBTQ+ characters, and I could have used some more elegant descriptions that I like in fantasy, but overall I really enjoyed this book and could not wait to start the next one! Would I survive this book? Yeah I think so, I’d enjoy being a smuggler or a rich person.
Look out for my review of A Noble’s Path tomorrow as part of the blog tour!