November 21, 2007
Take a Thief: A Novel of Valdemar by Mercades Lackey
Much of Take a Thief reads like a fantasy version of Oliver Twist- an orphan boy who runs away and joins a gang of pickpockets. Skif is a clever and resourceful lad who learns to survive no matter what. Skif’s routine is interrupted with a tragic fire- which he suspects was not an accident. As he investigates it, he finds that the arson is connected with other wrongdoing. The wretched circumstances which he and his peers endure is astounding- it reminded me of the all too real poverty that exists in our own world. All too often in fantasy we see only the perspective of the nobility, while the everyday lives of the lower classes are only briefly touched on. The reader may wonder where the plot is going- and it indeed about 2/3rds of the novel is about Skif’s life on the streets, until he reaches a fateful turning point.
It takes place over the course of about 5 years or so. But the journey towards that place is a colorful adventure, and it is worth the ride. The action and suspense of the story kept me hooked. This is the second Valdemar book I’ve read, the other being By the Sword. I wouldn’t count this book among my favorites, but I thought it was pretty good. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for something different in fantasy other than the usual knights, princesses and dragons.
July 17, 2007
Briar’s Book: Book 4 of the Circle of Magic Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Briar is asked for help by one of his old street kid friends- his friend Flick is sick with an unknown disease. Soon it spreads and Rosethorn and Briar find themselves in quarantine, tending the sick as an epidemic threatens the whole city of Summersea. At Winding Circle healers work furiously trying to find a cure, but how many people will die before then?
I found this the most emotionally gripping of the four books to read, perhaps because to me the epidemic described showed a more severe kind of human suffering than the disasters in the other books. Also, obviously the series has built up to a more severe challenge for the characters to face.
The Circle of Magic quartet ends a year after the four mages first met in Sandry’s Book. We really see the psychological and magical growth of the characters. Their adventures continue in the Circle Opens quartet, Will of the Empress and Melting Stones.