01/06/2009. Contributed by Vikki Green
pub: Quercus Publishing Plc. 391 page hardback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84724-854-1.
check out website: www.quercusbooks.co.uk and www.sarah-prineas.com
'The Magic Thief: Lost' opens with the protagonist, Conn, discussing pyrotechnics with his master, Neverry. These are the experiments that got Neverry exiled from Wellmet for twenty years and he tries to dissuade Conn from going ahead with them. However, Conn needs to pursue the experiments with 'controlled' explosions as he cannot talk to the magic any more.
This happened when he lost his locus magicalicus during the climax of the last book. Needless to say, he causes a lot of damage to Neverry's house, but he finally manages to communicate with the magic. It needs his help and tells him to leave Wellmet. As a result of the damage caused and his unorthodox ideas about what magic is cause Conn to be exiled from the city and he finds himself on the road to Desh.
In the meantime, Wellmet is being threatened by Shadows who kill those they touch by turning them to stone. They are a manifestation of a force that is weakening and ultimately killing Wellmet's magic. Conn and Neverry undergo a terrifying encounter with some just before Conn is exiled.
Rowan, the duchess' daughter and Conn's friend from the first book is sent to Desh as an envoy by her mother. She is to find out what has happened to the slowsilver so crucial to Wellmet's mages and their work. She is also there to find out about the Shadows.
The book is aimed at the younger end of the Young Adult market and has an interesting section at the back giving basic pointers on fencing. The art comes into the story on a number of occasions when Rowan tries to persuade Conn to learn it with amusing results. The book is beautifully presented with short chapters, clear illustrations and letters to and from the main characters interspersed between the chapters. The volume is small and light, the text is large, easy to read and well-spaced. Is it just me or is adult type size getting smaller?
I read it on the train and it kept me riveted for the outward and return journeys. The action never lets up throughout the book and the characters are a delight to spend time with. Conn's wry outlook on life is fun and carries the book through some dark, scary moments with dry humour and a light touch. The other character's points of view are rendered through the letters, Neverry's are a particular delight and are often very funny. Sarah Prineas has created some memorable characters in 'The Magic Thief' series, it's a pleasure to spend time with them. I can't wait for the next book to see what happens next.
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