01/05/2009. Contributed by Vikki Green
pub: Quercus Publishing Plc. 421 page hardback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84724-432-1.
check out websites: www.quercusbooks.co.ukand www.sarah-prineas.com
'The Magic Thif' opens with Connwaer, a thief in the Twilight slums of Wellmet, stealing a stone from a man's pocket. He was hungry and mistaken the stone for some money but is actually the wizard Nevery's locus magicalicus - his focus. The wizard is intrigued by Conn's survival and takes him on as a servant. Nevery has returned from exile to the city of Wellmet to find out why the magic is disappearing.
At first, he regards Conn as a nuisance, but becomes interested in the boy's growing abilities as time goes on. Their affection and respect for one another grows gradually throughout the book.
It is a Young Adult book, aimed at the younger end of the market and despite it being a hardback with an alarming page count it is actually quite small. It's about 18x13.5 cm and the type is set at about 14 pt, which makes it very easy on the eye and the pages don't contain a lot of dense type. It also fits nicely in the hand. Some good pencil vignettes of the main characters and places in the story liven the text and there are some hidden messages in runes on Nevery's diary pages for translation. The runes are at the end of the book, along with a couple of biscuit recipes. It came over as friendly and the feel of the paper was pleasant against my fingers.
The story itself doesn't stop for a moment. I read it in two sittings and was completely enthralled. The action starts right at the beginning of Chapter One and doesn't stop. It is funny and tense throughout. The hero, Connwaer, is an engaging personality, has a wry outlook on life and is the main viewpoint in the book. His background as a thief in the Twilight slums has made him suspicious and he doesn't trust people easily but he trusts Nevery absolutely. His burgeoning talent is beautifully rendered as is his search for his locus magicalicus which is tense in the extreme.
Nevery is the secondary viewpoint which is rendered in the form of his diary entries. They counterpoint Conn's ideas perfectly. They are also sharp, funny commentaries on the situations Conn has got himself into.
I loved it and really want to see more of the world of Wellmet, Conn and Nevery. It is a tense story and is wittily told. There are some laugh out loud moments and some moments of real peril. I particularly liked the theories of magic in 'The Magic Thief' and thought the whole system and the world was well put together. It is a book I'd recommend to anyone who likes an adventure story with a touch of wit and magic. Loved it and was disappointed when the book ended.
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