Self-Made Scoundrel by Tristan Tarwater is the prequel to Thieves at Heart, which focuses on the character of Derk. This books covers why he becomes a thief and the various adventures he gets into.
Derk is a very complex character from the beginning of the book. He is born into a well-to-do family, but he is not comfortable in the life of wealth, power and privilege. He is drawn to the seedy side of life, and even fakes his own death in order to escape the life he was born in.
The book follows Derk through a series of adventures that shows how he grows as a character. He experiences heart ache, loss, and has to come to grips with the choices he has made in life, for good or ill.
My only issue is that in some cases the action is skipped ahead, and I would have liked to seen what had happened during those parts of the adventure that were skipped over. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy books that have a gritty side with great character development.