#17. Don’t be a hero.

“Well,” he said, standing up, “lovely as this little father-son bonding session has been, I’ve just managed to escape the Shepherdess, and I don’t mean to spend my freedom rotting in a cell.”

Banage looked up. “What are you going to do?”

Eli smiled and held up four fingers. “Find Josef and Nico.” He folded one down. “Find out what the Shepherdess is up to.” He folded the next. “And find out how to get out of her way.” Down went the third. “First rule of thievery,” he said with a wink. “Don’t be a hero. Of course, before I can do any of that”—he wiggled the fourth and final finger at his father—“I’m getting out of here.”

Spirit’s End by Rachel Aaron

#16. No one runs forever.

Eli closed his eyes as the lava spirit sank into him and fell into a grumbling sleep. Karon was probably right. He probably should be planning an escape, or at least a new plot to get Benehime to let him go of her own will again, but he just couldn’t summon up the energy to care. He could almost feel Benehime’s hand on his throat. She had him good and tight now, and every time he tried to think about the future, all he could see was endless white.

He’d been so arrogant, thinking he could run forever. He’d forgotten the first rule of thievery: no one runs forever. 

  Spirit’s End by Rachel Aaron

#15. Never be without a quick exit.

Eli shrugged and stood, taking his wineglass with him. “I’m going to poke my nose down around the castle,” he said, refilling his glass to the rim from the bottle on the mantel. “Do a little goodwill work with the spirits, just in case we have to make a quick getaway.”

Josef ignored the stab of bitterness that came with that. “What makes you think we’ll be leaving?”

“First rule of thievery: Never be without a quick exit,” Eli said, sipping the top of his now very full glass. “Of course, there’s also the fact that you just walked in from a meeting with a powerful man who doesn’t like you very much looking like you’re ready to kill something. Even without the rules, that’s reason enough for me.”

 The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron

#14. Haste leaves clues.

Josef tilted his head back, bumping it soundly against the door. Leave it to the thief to make everything more complicted. “Fine,” he said at last. “What do you suggest I do?”

“Leave it to me,” Eli said, standing up. “We’ll go to your room and see what we can find. Since no one knew in advance that you were coming back, whoever poisoned you had to set things up fairly quickly. Haste leaves clues.” He paused. “I don’t actually think thats a rule of thievery. I should make it one.”

 The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron

#13: Never jump without knowing where you’re going to land.

“Not yet,” Josef said. “We need to find out what happened last night and why. We also need a who. Eli, I want you to go to my room and see what you can find. Nico, I’ll need you to stake out the duke. I want to know what he’s planning. Meanwhile, I’m going to go down to the kitchen and get the truth out of whoever cooked my food last night.”

“Josef,” Eli said cautiously, taking off his wig so he could look at the swordsman without hair getting in his eyes. “I know you don’t generally listen to these, but the first rule of thievery is never jump without knowing where you’re going to land. You’re making a lot of assumptions here. We’re not even sure you were poisoned.”

                                                 The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron

#12: Shown weakness is your only weakness.

“It’s a room full of rich, soft, old men!” Eli cried. “It’s not an army.”

“I’d prefer an army,” Josef said. “You don’t know what those people are like. If they would fight me openly, everything would be fine. But they don’t. They justtalk.”

Eli smiled and held up a finger. “Juse relax and remember the first rule of thievery: Shown weakness is your only weakness. Go in there with your head held high and leave the talking to me. That’s why I’m here, remember?”

                                                 The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron

#11: Always know what’s around you.

Eli started wiggling again, turning until his back was to the wall. First rule of thievery, always know what’s around you. The cave was quite small, barely six feet across and twice as deep, with a ceiling low enough to make a child claustrophobic. Still, despite the cave’s tiny dimensions, it took three look-overs for Eli to realize he wasn’t alone.

                                                 The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron

#10: Never risk what you can’t afford to lose.

Eli stared at the woods in front of him, the rolling hills of dappled shade and fragrant evergreens. Thinking about it rationally, he should keep walking. He’d been a thief long enough to know when it was time to cut your losses and get out, but…

Eli stopped in his tracks. First rule of thievery, the actual first rule the old Monpress had drilled into him, was never risk what you couldn’t afford to lose. He couldn’t lose his team, not if he wanted to get his bounty to one million. Over the last year, he’d pushed higher and further than ever, and Nico had been a part of that as much as Josef. Even knowing what he was messing with, he couldn’t give that up. Not yet.

                                                 The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron

#9: If you must fight, only fight the fights you can win.

“Aren’t we going to do something?”

“What can we do?” Eli said, taking a deep breath. “We’re here for information, not to play hero. Even if I wanted to, we’ve got no backup. First rule of thievery, if you must fight, only fight the fights you can win.”

                                                 The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron

#8: One person makes less noise than two.

“Okay, okay,” Eli said, putting his hands up. “The Heart stays. But if it’s not going, then you shouldn’t either.”

Josef arched an eyebrow, and Eli shook his head. “I’m not saying anything about your fighting prowess, but if you can’t bring your big weapon I’d probably have an easier time sneaking in alone.”

“How does that make sense?” Josef growled.

“It’s the first rule of thievery,” Eli said with a shrug. “One person makes less noise than two. And I’d much rather you be here with Nico and the Heart than stuck on some mountain with just me and your pot-metal normal blades.”

Josef’s hands flicked to the blades on his hip, as though he was about to show Eli just how dangerous those pot-metal blades could be, but Eli was already walking over to the cranny where he’d dropped his bag.

                                                 - The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron