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4.5 out of 5 stars37
4.5 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 26 September 2008
Conn is a street urchin who pick-pockets something of immense magical strength and yet seems unaffected. Intrigued, Nevery the Magician from whom he had tried to steal the stone (or locus magicalicus) takes him on as an unorthodox apprentice.
Prineas, and her main character Conn, has a unique and imaginative take on the essence of magic: its vitality. With dwindling magic in the city, Conn has an unnerving instinct about what is wrong and why, going against city institutions and wizard elders in order to set things straight.
With a dark and Dickensian flavour, this is a gentle introduction to dark fantasy for confident junior readers upwards. The story is lean and linear and has only a fairly sparse cast of characters, making it a real page turner, its gripping nature belying its simplicity. The physical book has a good feel to it too, a neat hardback with a map of the city, interspersed entries from Nevery's journal, and atmospheric illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.
And if you enjoy this, I recommend you try The Toymaker by de Quidt for a darker twistier tale at the same reading level.
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Conn was just hoping for a few coins to buy food when he picked the pocket of the wizard who passed his alleyway. What he gets is an adventure far bigger than he could have imagined. The wizard, Nevery, takes an interest in Conn, and takes him in as a servant and then an apprentice. With regular meals, blankets to sleep under, and enough magical objects and lessons to keep Conn's eager mind occupied, the once-homeless boy couldn't be happier.

Unfortunately for Conn, nothing is as simple as it seems. Before he can truly become an apprentice, he must find his locus magicalicus (the stone which will focus his magical power) in a most unlikely place, convince Nevery that one of his fellow wizards is consorting with the city's cruel Underlord, and figure out why the city's magic is fading away--and how to save it--before the city dies from the lack of it. It's a terribly large task for a boy who has only just started learning his letters, but Conn is nothing if not resourceful.

THE MAGIC THIEF will pull readers in so completely that they'll have trouble setting the book aside. The details of the Victorian-esque world are so vividly drawn that readers will feel the chill of the icy winds and taste the buttery goodness of Conn's favorite biscuits. What makes the book particularly special is Conn himself. His voice is lively, with exactly the sort of street-smart practicality and frankness you'd expect from a boy who has spent most of his life on the streets. Despite his criminal background, Conn is good-hearted, and simply longs for a place where he can make something of himself.

Readers will sympathize with his struggle to prove himself to Nevery and the city's authorities, and appreciate his clear-headed thinking amid all the secrecy and scheming of the adults around him. The novel's conclusion is quite satisfying, while leaving lots open for the second book in the trilogy, which many will be clamoring to get as soon as they have finished this one. An all-round enjoyable read that easily stands out from the many fantasy novels on the shelves.

Reviewed by: Lynn Crow
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on 1 June 2009
Annoyingly I read this book without reading the one before it - I ordered it not realising it was different from "The Magic Thief" which I had intended to buy. When it arrived I read it anyway, and have now added the book I intended to read to my wish list!

That ought to amount to a recommendation. This book was good enough for me to want to fill in the gaps.

I read this straight after reading Angie Sage's Physik, and that was perhaps unfortunate, as Angie Sage's books are so good it was hard for me to put that out of my mind when reading this book - and comparisons are inevitable. This book lacks the wacky humour of Angie Sage, and the storyline is less involved. Characterisations are not as deep either.

But despite those comparisons, this is still a very good story. A fast paced adventure with plenty to endear it to its intended audience. For instance, the chapters are riddled with secret runic messages to decode, and there are some wonderfully interesting recipes at the end!

Ultimately I would say this book would appeal to a slightly younger readership than the Septimus Heap books - say 7 or 8+, although it could still be enjoyed by much older children and lovers of children's books.

(Always the problem with adding reading ages to books - it puts off the older readers who would still love it. nevertheless, children 10+ may prefer Septimus Heap).
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on 19 May 2011
I have wanted to read this book for a while but just didn't get around to it, but having done so I am glad I did. In truth I found the written style a little jarring at first but having kept going it does settle down, or perhaps I just stopped noticing. The story is good; it is well paced and not overly complicated so you get carried along with the adventure. There are no great surprises in the story, but it is still enjoyable. For a fantasy writer I do not think that the author has created a particularly vivid or creative backdrop for the story, the world she has created is not imaginative. But I liked the characters, they are not complex but they are likeable and help facilitate the story.

This was sufficiently good that I immediately read the second in the series, "Magic Thief - Lost", and enjoyed that as well. So this has been a good discovery and worth reading. I will certainly also read the third part in the series.
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On a cold, wet night in Wellmet, Conn is hungry and on the run from the Underlord (who controls part of the city) when he sees an old man walking by. Picking his pocket, Conn finds that he's stolen a locus magicalicus - a stone that wizard's use to focus their magic. It should instantly kill Conn but doesn't and its owner, Nevery, is intrigued enough to take on Conn as his apprentice.

Nevery's investigating why the magic in the city is disappearing and he's not going to let the fact that he's been banished by its duchess and the other wizards stop him. Conn however has new problems of his own. He's begun studying at the Magisters Hall where he has 30 days to find his own locus magicalicus or he'll be kicked out, but Nevery's too busy to help him find it.

If Conn wants to continue leading a life of magic, then he'll have to rely on his skills as a thief and trust his friends Benet (Nevery's bodyguard, who likes cooking and knitting in his spare time) and Rowan (a fellow magic student) to achieve it.

Sarah Prineas's debut novel, the first in a series, is a delightful adventure packed with magic and populated with entertaining characters. Conn is wonderfully self-reliant - pragmatic and curious he's a born survivor who's been given the chance of an alternative future. Although his dark secret is a little too easy to guess, his determined search for his locus magicalicus has you rooting for him.

Nevery is very much the traditional grumpy wizard. His journal entries, with their casual attitude to his new apprentice and musings as to when he will kick him out give the story much of its humour. The only bum note in the story comes towards the end when Nevery, who up till then has had the measure of the other wizards in the city, believes something told to him by his arch enemy without questioning it.

The book comes packed with extras - biographies of the main characters, a guide to the places in Wellmet, the runes used by the wizards and a biscuit recipe. Mention should also be made of the wonderful illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo which helps to bring it to life.

All in all it's a fun read and I will be checking out the next in this series.
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This is a great third/fourth grade intro to fantasy, magic, and adventure tales.

The hero, Conn the street thief, is destined for great things as a wizard. Nevery the wizard senses this and takes him on as an apprentice. Adventure and excitement follow.

Conn is the primary narrator, and his wonderful voice carries the book. He is street smart, but not a wise guy. He is made of true-blue hero stuff, being loyal, honest, conscientious, brave and shrewd. He is also subject to youthful error, exaggeration and false hope, so he presents a well-rounded, age appropriate protagonist. Nevery is a classic fair-but-firm, grumpy/softy master. Benet, Nevery's "muscle" is an effective soft-hearted tough guy. Rounding out the gang is Rowan, the ruling Duchess's daughter. She is smart, sassy, adventurous, and an excellent partner for Conn. She also provides a nice counterpoint to Conn, (in a Hermione Granger kind of way).

This book is not frantic, and there are no monsters. It's about how Conn grows up to be a wizard, and how he and his companions use magic and their own pluck to solve problems and help their city. There is "political intrigue", but it is simple enough to not confuse the story, (i.e. some bad wizards, a criminal kingpin, some spies and sneaks - that kind of thing).

I'm a big fan of Delaney's Spook's Apprentice series, which covers similar ground, but for an older reader. (More violence, more complexity, more depth.) But, this Magic Thief series is a wonderful way to introduce a reader to fantasy, and would be a great stepping stone to the Spook's Apprentice series. Then, as your reader gets older, you could move on to F.E. Higgins' Black Book of Secrets, (yet a more advanced and deliciously well-written apprentice type book), and beyond.

So, well worth serious consideration.
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on 17 February 2011
I stumbled across this series on Amazon, and bought the first one for my Kindle. I was hooked before I had finished the first page, and ordered the next two books half way through the first book. I didn't want to have to wait 5 minutes to continue reading! (I love it when my timing is good: when I discover a trilogy after all 3 books are published!) The books are suitable for a slightly younger reader than the Harry Potter/Septimus Heap fans (love them too!). The characters are quirky, lovable and believable and the books are beautifully written. Lots of action, twists and turns. And lots of magic!

I can't wait for Prineas to finish her next book!
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on 23 May 2009
It's even better, even funnier and faster-paced, even more magcal and MORE exciting than Book One in the Magic Thief series, which is saying a LOT. Conn's voice is irrepressible, the new characters are great, and the magic is wonderful. I love Conn's development in this book, and the added responsibilities that he accepts, and I love the way this series is going. I can't wait to read Book Three!
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on 19 May 2011
If you have read my review of "The Magic Thief" you will know that I enjoyed that and read this sequel immediately after finishing it. I am glad I did as the author has effectively built on the first book and takes the overall plot forward well. The slightly jarring written style of the first book isn't as noticeable here and so the plot moves along in an easy and uncluttered way. I still do not think that the author has developed a very imaginative environment in which to set the story, but you can't have everything.

This is an enjoyable second instalment in this series and deserving of its four stars.
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Ever since wizard apprentice and former thief Conn destroyed his locus magicalicus saving the city of Wellmet's magic, he's been banned from lessons and shunned by all the wizards except his master, Nevery.

No one believes his theory that the magic is a living being. As shadowy beings stalk Wellmet and attack its residents, Conn becomes desperate to communicate with the magic again. But his experiments with pyrotechnics cause a disaster so great he is exiled from Wellmet.

Outside the city, Conn steals a place on a envoyage to a distant city he suspects may be involved in Wellmet's troubles. Along the way he makes new friends and new enemies, and discovers a threat far greater than he ever imagined. Even Conn's great skills of stealth and thievery may not be enough this time.

Fans of THE MAGIC THIEF will love returning to Conn's world and joining him on his continuing adventures. Conn comes off at times more subdued than in the first book, but overall he has the same straight-forwardly charming voice. Minor characters from the first book have their roles expanded, making up for the fact that the wonderful Nevery and Benet are left behind for many chapters.

It's a delight seeing the world further explored and learning all the new and intriguing details about how it works. The enemy Conn faces is truly frightening and unexpected, and the stage is well set for the trilogy's concluding book.

Recommended for all fantasy readers - though of course it's most enjoyable if you've read the first book already.

Reviewed by: Lynn Crow
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