The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

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The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Elaine Dingsdale
Reviewed by Elaine Dingsdale
Summary: The first of a projected trilogy is a stunning novel from Sarah Prineas. It comes highly recommended by The Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: March 2009
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1847246998

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Young boy discovers that he is in possession of hitherto unknown magical powers… does this sound a familiar scenario? Well, I guess for many, it will sound somewhat familiar, but being one of the few people on the planet who hasn't read Harry Potter, then I'm afraid I can't make comparisons, which at their best would perhaps be invidious! So let's rewind…

The first in a projected trilogy of books, Thief is a stunning debut from new author Sarah Prineas. Young Conn, thief, lock pick and gutterboy, is a resident of Wellmer, a town experiencing rather strange happenings. The town has a Victorian/Dickensian feel, and emerges as a character in its own right, and is beautifully depicted, with an air of threat and violence hovering around it. On one of his nightly forays, Conn pickpockets Neverey, is caught, and thereby starts a relationship which I suspect will become a classic in this genre. Banished and recalled in a last ditch attempt by the Duchess to solve the threat to Wellmer, Neverey is one of a group of wizards (magisters), who are introduced throughout the book. As Conn gradually comes to realise that he has unusual powers, his place in Neverey's household and life becomes more important, and much of the novel focuses on Conn's education and search for his locus magicalicus.

The relationship between magister and apprentice forms the cornerstone to the novel, and is simultaneously touching, amusing, exciting, and inspiring. Neverey quickly realises that Conn is very special indeed, and we witness some thrilling moments as they work together to solve the threat to the town - he knows that Conn is simply incapable of lying/dissembling, and so has to give serious consideration to what he feels are Conn's more outlandish opinions! There are moments too of tenderness as Conn is taken under the magister's wing and nurtured, not just by him, but by Neverey's servant Benet - the proverbial reformed thug with a heart of gold, and a penchant for knitting!!

The novel is spellbinding (sorry!), in plot, characters, location and dialogue. There is also humour in abundance:

You must call me master, it's a sign of respect. I thought about that while Nevery opened the gate. But I possess knowledge, experience and abilities that you do not, Nevery. (And at least I didn't call him old man , the way that he called me boy.)

Add this to the oppressive threat hanging over the town, which materialises most effectively, with some moments of terror and fear, then I think we can safely say that Prineas has penned a potential prize winner.

The novel concludes with harmony having been restored, but offering tantalising promises of what is to follow, and there is scope aplenty for the remaining books in the trilogy, whose publication I eagerly await.

Finally, the novel is a joy to peruse. It is beautifully illustrated, interspersed with extracts from Neverey's journal, and contains appendices, and maps. The author's website is worth visiting too, for its illustration of Device …and joy, confirmation that the future novels will contain dragons! Although primarily aimed at the children/young adult market, Prineas has written adult fantasy, and there is plenty in this, her first children's novel to hold the attention of adult and child alike. A wonderful book, which I recommend unreservedly.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin. We've also enjoyed Winterling by Sarah Prineas.

Sarah Prineas' Magic Thief Books in Chronological Order

Booklists.jpg The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas is in the Bookbag's Fantasy Picks.

Bookinterviews.jpg Sarah Prineas was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

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Buy The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas at


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