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Literature / Storm Thief

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"Anything can any time."

Storm Thief is a 2006 Science-Fiction novel by Chris Wooding, author of Poison, The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray, Crashing, Kerosene, and The Broken Sky series. It tells the story of Rail (pictured) and Moa, a pair of thieves who come from one of the many ghetto districts in the city of Orokos. The city is plagued by Probability Storms, which are tempests of a substance called "aether" that change whatever they touch. The two are given a job by the Thief-Mistress, Anya-Jacana, and find a strange artefact that allows Moa to phase through walls. They end up on the run from their gang, who wanted said artifact.

Elsewhere, a Golem named Vago escapes his master's home after getting fed up of his beatings. He's carrying the preserved body of a seabird, which implies there is something outside the city, and when he meets up with Rail and Moa this interests her enough that Moa insists on taking him with them.

They end up on the run from the Protectorate, an army of soldiers hell-bent on keeping order in the chaotic city. Along with a ghetto boy named Finch, the leader of the Protectorate army intends to get the artifact and use it to access and destroy the Chaos Engine, source of the Probability Storms.

This book contains examples of..

  • Adipose Rex: Anya-Jacana.
  • After the End: The Chaos Engine caused an event called The Fade, which utterly devastated the already-failing Orokos and turned it into a pseudo-post-apocalyptic place.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Bane seems to show this. He's a crack shot with an Aether Cannon, and is somewhat feared.
  • Bald of Evil: Some of the Protectorate soldiers are described as having shaved heads.
  • BFG: The Aether Cannons, along with the Thumper Guns.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Almost every made-up word is loaned from Hungarian. For example, the "gyik-tyuks" (Hungarian "gyík-tyúk"), lizard-chicken hybrids, literally mean "lizard-chicken". "Orokos" (Hungarian "örökös") means "everlasting", "Kilatas" ("kilátás") means "lookout", "Vago" ("vágó") means "cutter", "Lelek" ("lélek") means "soul", etc. "Benejes Frine" is completely made-up, however.
  • Bishounen: Rail is a very good-looking guy, even if he grew up in a ghetto. However, his mask obscures his face most of the time.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Rail and Moa are together and free from the city, travelling into the unknown with Kitiwake's group. However, the city is suffering a completely random and unpredictable transformation, taking its entire population with it
  • Bloodless Carnage: A Revenant attack causes this, followed by Our Zombies Are Different.
    • Aether cannons have no effect on anything nonliving, but blow apart the souls of their victims, causing death. Since Revenants are apparently made of the stuff, it's not too suprising
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Fade-Science artifact.
  • Cool Mask: Rail's respirator.
  • Crapsack World: The protectorate pretend to support the poor in the slums while in reality deny them jobs, look down on them for being unemployed, and finding excuses every so often to arrest them, whereby they are never heard from again. It's slightly better for those born into higher social classes, but they are still under a totalarian rule that is slowly taking away more and more of their freedom, and like everyone else are plagued by soul eating Revenents and their zombified victims, as well as being completely defenseless against the Probability storms, which change anything and everything at random, leading to all kinds of horror. Also, anyone who tries to leave gets torn apart by circular-saw robots.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The Faded.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Two. The Null Spire and the Fulcrum. The former is the Protectorate's base of operations: The latter is the home of the Chaos Engine.
  • Future Slang: "That is so frakking annoying!"
  • General Ripper: Bane.
  • The Grotesque: Vago.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bane is killed when Finch sneaks his explosive arm-cuff into his pocket.
  • Human Resources: How the protectorate maintains a pretense of feeding those in the slums without wasting food
  • The Load: Moa sees herself as this, but she got better.
  • Meaningful Name: Rail, Moa, and Finch are all the names of birds.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Bane, of course.
  • Not Quite Dead: Vago in the end. He's just floating in the ocean. Unusually, this doesn't become And I Must Scream due to Vago being quite happy to keep floating for a long while to come
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Revenants that possess corpses and reanimate them, turning them into raging, unstoppable aether-spewing monstrosities.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Moa.
  • Randomized Transformation: The setting is constantly affected by something called "probability storms". These "storms" change whatever they come in contact with, from rearranging certain areas to changing the color of someone's lipstick, to shutting down a character's lungs.
  • Reality Warper: Not a single person, but the Chaos Engine does this by changing whatever the Probability Storms touch. Sometimes horribly, for instance Rail's lungs shutting down. Other times utterly trivial, like Moa's lipstick changing color at one point.
    "Rail, ten days ago I was left handed!"
  • Super-Soldier: What Vago was built to be.
  • Tattooed Crook: Played with; slum residents are tattooed by the Protectorate so they can be easily identified as crooks.
  • Title Drop: The Storm Thief himself is a character in a myth that attempts to explain the Probability Storms.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: EVERYTHING the protectorate do, ever. It turns out the city was founded simply to produce a perfect society, cut of from any undesirables. It backfired horribly.