This week I am reviewing Brandon Dixon’s, The Bank Heist. You can check the bottom of this page for links to where you can get it. It is currently on Kindle Unlimited so you can pick it up for free if you are signed up to that, and if you are not I think there is a link on my Support page to where you can get a free trial for Kindle Unlimited. This is actually the third book in the series, but somehow I ended up missing that and reading it anyway. Oh no, how terrible, now I will have to read the other books in the series. Whatever shall I do? But yeah, heads up you might want to actually start from the beginning of the series. I’ll include those links at the bottom of the page too.
At 49 pages this is probably the shortest book I have reviewed on this website, but it was great fun the whole way through. For much of the book, it is told from the point of view of a security guard at a bank. Now, given the name of the book I am sure you can imagine what happens, and you will probably be right. The plot in this book pretty much happens as one would expect it, there aren’t many surprises in the structure or the story. Instead of the novel (puns, my greatest weakness) aspects come from the setting, description, and the characters.
And this is clearly on purpose, this book is set in the world of Dixon’s TTRPG, Swordsfall which you can find out more about here. I’ve been following Dixon on Twitter for a while now and really enjoy the snippets of info I hear about the world, so I was really keen to get a book which told a story set in that world. And I was not disappointed. Fantastic characters and setting, all really beautifully described, and the world-building leaps out at you. I think one of the things I really noticed was that in contrast to the ubiquitous sword that everyone carries in European Fantasy, even when it doesn’t make sense for them to, there was a lot more variety. Spears, especially, were used a lot which I hardly ever see, so that was cool.
There were also loads of hints about the world dropped into the book, so that, even though this was just a short story, really, you got a hint at how the world works both socially and physically. I mean, on the one hand, there are very modern seeming banks with alarm switches and so on, but also everything is magic and people are using melee weapons. Also, did I mention magic? This is one of those books where magic is so ordinary in the world that sometimes you read a description, and in the real world you would recognise it as a metaphor, but in this one, you aren’t so sure. I definitely want to read more about this world, the hints it drops about the gods, in particular, seem really exciting and the way that it sets up loads of potential for drama and stuff makes me eager to read on too.
I really loved the way that the point of view character, Mustaf, who was the security guard of the bank, was written. He didn’t fall into any of the boxes that are generally there for that kind of character. By this, I mean that as a character who is usually pretty far down the pecking order in a heist story, he was really given the room to be a person. He wasn’t a totally innocent victim, or a terrible human being, he just seemed really tired. I mean, also terrified of what the Killer Krew were going to do to him, but then he was terrified of what his bosses might do to him, which was a really good way of gaining sympathy for him. I mean, he works for horrible people, he protects their interests and secrets, but he also has to deal with the ordinary people who come into the bank. Which makes a lot of sense, really.
And to any other writers out there I would like to point out how much potential mileage there is in the different people chosen as security guards for a dodgy bank. On the one hand, you might want someone who can intimidate people out of attacking. But on the other do you really want to draw that much attention? So maybe employing everyday folk might be a good idea, but if the bank does get attacked then they aren’t going to be able to do much. Lots of options there.
Anyway, at the end of the book, Mustaf thinks about how he should quit his job at the bank and work for a library instead. Now, I would just like to say that I have no idea if this is the case, I haven’t read any of the other book descriptions and I have no idea what might happen next in the series. But god, do I hope that he gets that job and the library ends up being robbed by the Killer Krew as well.
I just think it would be hilarious.
Plus, a library is a perfectly sensible place to steal from, especially in a fantasy world where magic is a thing. Magical spells have to be written down on something, and a secret corner of a public library might be a good place to hide them in plain sight. Or you know, if you want people to find the book but you don’t want anyone to know who put it there, stick it in the reference section of the library.
Maybe I am just getting too enthusiastic about the idea of stories that are clearly TTRPG sessions waiting to happen. If any of you play TTRPGs with me maybe you should try forgetting what I just said, then I can use these ideas in a game some time!
But I think you are starting to see what I enjoyed so much about this book. The book itself has lots of interesting ideas for people to read about, but it also introduces you to a bunch that you can use in your own writing, or in the games you play in the Swordsfall world. Writing a story in this way is such a cool thing to do, it inspires the reader even while it entertains them and I cannot wait to read more. It’s also a very generous way to write and I think I maybe loved that most of all. Rather than grabbing hold of all the plot threads and keeping them for himself, Dixon has made a world where everyone else can have a go.
Maybe I’m reading into it a bit much there, but whatever, I really enjoyed this book and will be reading the others in this series in the future and looking more into the Table Top Role Playing Game that is based in the same world.
But that’s all I want to say, I think. Check out the book on Amazon here, you can follow the links on that page to the rest of the books by the author. And of course, here is the link to the website for the TTRPG.
See you all next time when I am supposed to be reviewing Anna Stephens’ Godblind. Though, it might end up being a bit late as I read the other books in this series first.