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The Gilded Wolves follows a team of five from Paris who go on heists and steal magical artifacts. The leader of their team is Séverin. He was born into one of the four royal families of Paris, and expected to inherit. When his parents passed away and the inheritance test proved without a doubt he was their child, the people who administered the test lied and said he wasn’t the legitimate heir. In response, all his family’s wealth was distributed and all their magical artifacts were auctioned off. Séverin formed this team to steal back all his family’s heirlooms.

The other four members of his team all have vastly different skills. First, we have Tristan, Séverin’s adopted brother, who is a skilled chemist. Next up, Laila, a dancer from India who can charm anyone with her smile. Then we have Zofia, an autistic Jewish girl who knows how to Forge artifacts. And finally, Enrique, their historian and all around scholar.

The first place where this book really shines is its character work. Everyone gets a perspective, so you get to see right into all of their heads. They all have different motivations for being in Paris and helping Séverin, but they’re still able to work together despite it all. It’s clear that they’ve been together long enough at the start of the book that they know each other pretty well, but they still argue sometimes.

The magic in this world is based on creating magical artifacts that do cool things. There are two kinds, mind and matter. People who can Forge mind artifacts make objects that do all sorts of wacky things related to bending reality according to the mind. There are a lot of restrictions on what they can do, because it’s easy to Forge artifacts that are completely unethical. The other kind, matter, is a lot more straightforward. All those artifacts have physical effects. There aren’t as many restrictions on Forged matter artifacts as there are on ones of the mind.

The target artifact they’re after this time is a compass, which supposedly has a hidden map inside. Séverin doesn’t care much for the compass itself. He just wants the map, because that’s why it was so important to his family. They steal that in the first couple chapters, and start decoding the map. Unfortunately, they’re caught by the heads of one of the other houses, a young guy named Hypnos. Hypnos wraps them up in more heists, in exchange for keeping their theft a secret. He seems pretty untrustworthy at first, but over time he works his way onto the team proper.

This book pays homage to all those treasure hunting movies I remember when I was a kid, but has one huge leg up on all of them. Despite this book being about stealing magical artifacts and the plot that evolves from that, it’s also very historically accurate. While in most of those old treasure hunting movies, no one ever really acknowledges the hurt caused by taking away important cultural symbols from their home countries, this book dives right into that and refuses to turn a blind eye it all.

Some of the main characters are from countries that have been colonized, and are actively working to try and change the way western society operates. In addition to that, all of the characters have something about them that makes them outcasts from society. They all advocate for each other, and create a safe space where other outcasts can be themselves without fear of being shunned or treated like garbage for simply existing. I loved seeing them all create this open, accepting space for themselves and everyone else. It makes me have so much hope for the future of the world today.