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The Thief-Taker's Apprentice Paperback – 7 Apr 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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£7.99 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (7 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575094494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575094499
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 486,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

a good solid fanatsy for all ages (BOOK GIRL OF MUR-Y-CASTELL)

Book Description

A teenage thief becomes a teenage assassin and must live with the consequences.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Berren's only ever known a life of crime. An excellent thief, he makes his living cutting purses and paying a percentage to Hatchet in return for his protection. But when he tries to steal money from Sy, a thief-taker, he gets more than he bargained for. Master Sy tracks him down and buys him from Hatchet to train as his apprentice.

Berren longs to be taught how to fight with swords. Instead he's forced to learn to read, write and basic manners. But there are some consolations, notably in Lilissa, the pretty seamstress who Berren protects. Soon though Sy and Berren find themselves caught up in an investigation into piracy, an investigation that plunges master and apprentice into a world of corruption that runs across all layers of society where everyone wants them dead ...

Stephen Deas's novel, the first in a new YA fantasy trilogy is a slow-burning but skilfully crafted affair.

Berren is a resourceful thief who comes to realise that there are other ways of living and who slowly decides that he wants to improve himself and his prospects. As far as he knows, he's an abandoned orphan but Sy seems to think that he reminds him of an old friend. Sy himself has a mysterious background - a prince who was usurped from his throne and forced to flee, he carries an old grudge against an unknown enemy and is cynical about those in power. In truth, Sy interested me more than Berren and I thought the book missed something when he was absent purely because Berren's story and character is such a staple in fantasy stories of this type. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where Sy introduces Berren to his old friends and also his cynical reaction to both them and his own history.
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Format: Paperback
The Thief-Taker's Apprentice is a tale of bounty-hunters and thieves set in a historic fantasy world. It's not your fantastical creatures or special power type of fantasy, more an alternate world with temples, priests and the occasional witch doctor.

Berren is a teenage dung-sweeper and pickpocket. He is one of Hatchet's boys and lives a miserable life in Shipwrights by the docks. He shares a rotten floor with a lot of other unwashed boys, eats scraps of stale bread and basically stinks of fish and poop! Berren has a simple ambition: he wants to make money. He does this by cutting purses. He feels no guilt about his thieving. It doesn't weigh on his conscience. When there is a public execution in the centre of town, he goes to watch like all the other boys. He enjoys seeing the blood as the guilty have their heads chopped off but it is the lure of ten gold Emperors, which the Thief-Taker has earned, that really gets his blood pumping. All that lovely money! Berren is determined to cut the Thief-Taker's purse. He thinks that such a glorious sum could change his life forever. So he spends the rest of the day looking for the Thief-Taker and of course goes about his thievery.

It won't surprise you to find out that Berren becomes Master Sy's apprentice. I think it comes as a surprise to both of them though. At the beginning of the novel Berren has a rather romanticised idea of a thief-taker's work. He thinks it's all swashing buckling and sword-fights. The story follows Berren as he begins his education into what it takes to be a bounty-hunter. It requires patience, investigative skills and intuition. But there's no denying that it is also a very violent profession.

Both Berren and Master Syannis are great characters.
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Format: Paperback
A good, short, entertaining read. The apprenticeship part of the story works very well, and is quite interesting enough in its own right. But the main mcguffin plot about finding the pirates seems a bit thin, and almost tacked on. The world-building is nicely done in small accretions, without any huge info-dumps. The main characters are well drawn. Only the token female remains a closed book, but I'm going to generously hope that she comes into her own more in subsequent books, which I will be reading.
I was surprised one of the other reviews said this was YA, but suitable for younger kids. I thought it was YA all the way through, but towards the end wondered if I'd got that wrong and it was an adult book. It is *very* unpleasantly violent towards the end. I don't say this in a disapproving way (I like Joe Abercrombie!), just slightly surprised.
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Format: Hardcover
The city of Deephaven is still recovering from a civil war that wracked it and the surrounding Empire several decades ago. The war left behind many orphans and unwanted children, some of whom have grown up with thievery the only option for survival. After unwisely making a thief-taker his mark, one of these boys, Berren finds his life transformed as he is recruited as the thief-taker's apprentice.

The Thief-Taker's Apprentice is the start of a new trilogy by Stephen Deas, author of the Memory of Flames Trilogy (The Adamantine Palace, The King of the Crags and the forthcoming The Order of Scales). It is set in the same world, apparently on a continent on the far side of the Taiytakei homelands, but a couple of mentions of the Taiytakei aside, there are no links between the two series (yet, anyway). It is also nominally a 'Young Adult' title, but Deas actually pulls few punches in the book to accommodate these younger readers. Particularly amusing (and actually effective) is the use of corrupted Cockney rhyming slang to get around restrictions on swearing, whilst the violence is not particularly sanitised (although not gratuitous, either).

The book is pretty traditional. Whilst Memory of Flames has the politics of the dragon realms and the use of dragons as horrendous weapons of war going for it, The Thief-Taker's Apprentice is much happier employing standard tropes. We have a young main character (albeit one whose morality is a bit greyer than the standard young boy cliche), an older mentor (a disgraced nobleman from a distant land), the romantic interest, the nemesis and so on. Those looking for something surprising and new might be disappointed here. However, Deas takes the standard material and infuses it with great pace and some impressive depth, given the modest page count.
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