Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

Move over Harry Potter. The next big thing is here. It is a trilogy (so far) entitled ‘ The Magic Thief’ – with two books published.

The protagonist is Conn, a young gutter boy who fights for survival in the poorer part of town. When he attempts to pick a wizard’s pocket, he steals the locus magicalicus, an all powerful stone that wizards use to practice magic. The wizard, Nevery, is amazed that the stone has not killed Conn instantly and therefore takes him on as a servant. But a series of unexpected events ensue and Conn becomes the wizard’s apprentice.

Conn is special because the magic and he share an unexplained bond – leading it to protect him and ensure his safety in the most trying of circumstances. When there is a crisis involving the depleting levels of magic in the city, it is Conn who discovers that the magic is being entrapped and frees it at great personal risk.

Probably because he has been outside the system always and because he relates to the magic differently from the others, Conn finds it easy to believe things that are practically heresy for the wizards of the time. For example, he believes that the magic is a living thing and that the spells the wizards speak are its language.

The books are page turners and score high on both drama and action– street fights, explosions, treachery, evil magicians, powerful dark beings created for the sole purpose of destruction, and more. Serious situations are often laced with humor so even while you wonder how Conn will get out of this one, you cannot help but laugh at his sudden insights.

Although the books are narrated by Conn, it weaves in letters from the characters, mainly Nevery, so that we get an idea of what is going on behind the scenes, unknown to Conn. A clever tactic that does away with the limitations of the first person narrative.

Conn is on a journey to discover himself and the nature of magic. And as the pages turn, he begins to understand things gradually. Journeying with him is the solitary Nevery, who moves out of his own loneliness to forge a relationship with Conn and eventually believe in Conn’s theory of magic. There is Rowan, the Duchess’s daughter, who learns more about the city she will eventually govern, thanks to her friendship with Conn. By forming relationships with each other, the characters evolve through the book, thus allowing us to feel that the book grows not just in terms of events but also dynamically.

In contrast to these characters are the wizards of Wellmet who refuse to understand or accept anything new, who will spend all their time consulting old books rather than facing up to the reality of the age they live in

One of my favorite characters is Benet, Nevery’s bodyguard – a man of few words. When he is not fighting off bad characters, he is baking delicious biscuits. Among Benet’s other unexpected talents are an ability to knit. A well rounded person, wouldn’t you say?

The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter are beautifully drawn. Antonio Javier Caparo’s maps and drawings make real the characters and the geography.

Yes, it is classified as Young Adults fiction and can be predictable in parts. And I would like to see a more extensive use of magic by the characters But Conn has a quirky, irreverent voice that I promise you will enjoy!

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