As usual lets start with the technical side of the review. I listened to the Audiobook narrated by Jonathan Davis. You might not recognize the name but you have probably listened to at least one Audiobook read by him. He has done most of the Star-wars books including The truly fantastic William Shakespeare’s Star Wars By Ian Doescher . He has also done books like The Black Company: Chronicles of The Black Company, Book 1 By Glen Cook and The Shadow of the Torturer: The Book of the New Sun, Book 1 by Gene Wolfe. Just as in those books he did a great job here. Although I would assume a guy born in England and living in the Colony of Boston just before the Revolutionary war would have had a British accent. But other than that it was great. The cover is ok nothing special It did not grab me. It actually was the reason it stayed on my TBR pile for so long. I don’t like to judge a book by its cover but they sure can make me want to listen/read to them Sooner rather than something else…It was a decent length at a bit over 13 hours.
The book takes place in a way underused setting and time period for Alternate History/Fantasy books. The American Colonies pre-Revolutionary war. Actually just before the war. Samuel Adams is an important figure in the book and the book pretty much starts during the Riots caused by the Stamp act which lead eventually to the Boston Tea Party and the War.
Thieftaker is in a parallel world. Although I only noticed 2 differences, so very close to ours.. The main difference is that magic is a real thing but kept in the shadows because things like the Salem Witch trials had still happened.
We see through the eyes of Ethan Kaille a magic user of no small powers he earns his living as a Thief Catcher. He kind of felt like he was created from the end game screen of Sid Meier’s Pirates!
He was a British sailor and engaged when something happened and he was charged with mutiny and somehow outed as a wizard but instead of death he was sent to work on a sugar plantation for many years where he gained a limp. When he came back his Fiancée had married had children and been widowed. She still wanted nothing to do with him though because he is a witch. If you ever played Pirates you will understand my point.
Don’t get me wrong I liked the book it was well written but that part was just so generic to me. It might be better if /when it is explained in the rest of the series.
OK the second thing that was not like our world was when they talk about both a man and woman being hanged. The Richardson’s had been found guilty of “miss treating their children” and hung. I was pretty sure there wasn’t such a thing as child abuse then. So I did a bit of disturbing research and scanned through about 100 cases from 1700-1792 involving child deaths only 2 went to trial in both the suspect was black or Indian and the child was a illegitimate half white newborn. like the case bellow.
- Rutland Sup. Ct. files, v. 2: 587
- Accused: Dinah
- Race: b
- Gender: f
- Age: adult “negro girl”
- Occupation: fugitive slave
- Town: from New York State
- 587: INFANTICIDE — Dinah, 1784: d.: 2/21/1784: on body of negro child in Arlington, VT. Found near house of Elnathan Merwin Jr. CORONER JURY VERDICT: murder. In case of FREEMAN v. DINAH.
- SUSPECT(s): Dinah
- VICTIM(s): her newborn illeg. child
- Weapon: [physical]
- Circumstances: near the house of Elnathan Merwin, Jr.
- Inquest: d. 2/21. Verdict: murder.
- Indictment: yes, murder
- Term: 2/1784
- Court proceedings: pNG
Yet in cases like the next one the person was released and actually became more prominent after beating his half black Illegitimate 7 year old son to death with a stick
- Class: probable
- Crime: HOM MANSL
- Rela: HHLD CHILD [SERVANT by MASTER]
- Motive: ABUSE
- SUSPECT(s): [Elnathan] Strong
- VICTIM(s): a young boy (his servant)
- Weapon: wooden rods [club]
- Circumstances: beat the child with wooden rods for refusing to follow orders. 2.5 hours later.
- Inquest: verdict:
- Indictment: no
- Court proceedings: none
- 1784, Feb. Arlington, BEN
Yeah I wasted a lot of time reading what ass holes our founders were not that I needed to be reminded. But anyway lets get back to the review. So other then the back-story that felt like a bunch of bad things that might happen to a person had been written on strips of paper and then randomly selected out of a hat, it was a very interesting read. A lot of real history thrown in to a real place and magic was added.
The magic system itself was interesting but pretty much based on what Charlatans of the 18th and 19th centuries spoke of.. Using a spirit guide or ghost, basically to help focus energies to do mostly Illusions and small things. But it did require some type of sacrifice like using part of the life of a tree or grass. But what was most common was the castors own blood. Towards the end it did get really cool to see how many simple things where combined to make more powerful spells.
But I have to mention the real hero of the book. Trevor Pell the priest that discovers he has magical talent. He saves Ethan’s life 4 or 5 times and he has a cool name to boot. I think he should leave the priest hood and become an apprentice or something. But we will have to wait and see.
A standard plot was helped tremendously by the interactions of the characters. Some of the motives (especially the bad guy’s) felt strained as to the whys of it. But then when I sat back to actually think about it and the politics of the time it made a bit more sense. Its not YA but I would have been ok letting my kids read it way back when they were 12 or 13 years old. All in all a little bit better than average read but with much potential for the rest of the series. All topped off with good narration I am going to give Thieftaker 3.75 stars out of 5