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My only complaint is that the series was done before I was ready to say goodbye to Conn, Nevery, Pip and the other characters
on October 4, 2010
Pickpocket-turned-wizard Connwaer is back for his biggest adventure ever in FOUND, the final book in the Magic Thief fantasy trilogy. This series is set in the magical city of Wellmet, which is comprised of two very different sections separated by a serpentine river flowing between them: beautiful and glamorous Sunrise on the eastern shore, and ugly, run-down Twilight on the western shore, home to all of Wellmet's warehouses and factories. The Dutchess Willa Forestal ruled over Sunrise with the help of her wizards, while Twilight found itself in the fearsome clutches of Underlord Crowe, whose minions handed out their own brand of justice.
Conn had been a "sneakthief" and "gutterboy" living on the mean streets of Twilight, trying to fill his stomach each day while evading the Underlord's grasp. That was before the great wizard Nevery Flinglas had found him and made him his own apprentice. Conn had gone to live with Nevery and his muscle man Benet in Nevery's mansion, Heartsease, on an island in the river.
In the first book, Conn had discovered that the magic that protected Wellmet and indeed enabled the city to exist at all was a living being. Magical spells were simply words spoken in the being's own tongue to enable the wizard to communicate with it, with the aid of a locus magicalicus, or a magic stone. However, in protecting the magical being from an enemy who sought to trap the magic of the city, Conn had lost his splendid locus magicalicus with which to speak to, and direct, the magic of Wellmet.
The second installment described Conn's increasingly frenzied attempts, using dangerous pyrotechnics, to find a new locus magicalicus with which to fend off the deadly shadowmen who targeted Wellmet. Since the use of pyrotechnics within the city wall's was strictly forbidden, Conn found himself banished from Wellmet and sent to the distant desert land of Desh. But exotic Desh, ruled by a crazed Sorceror-King, turned out to hold the secrets behind the shadowmen and the key to Wellmet's own fate.
In the final part of the trilogy, Conn has found his way back to Wellmet, a city that is in perilous danger from the evil magic Arhionvar that is coming to kill the city's magic and, by extension, the city itself. To save his home, Conn must travel far from Wellmet in search of a new locus magicalicus at the very time that the city needs him most. Conn's heart-stopping journey into uncharted lands leads him finally to dragons --- long-forgotten, mysterious creatures out of legend. Now Conn must discover the surprising connection between dragons and Wellmet's magic, and use his knowledge to learn what Arhionvar wants and how the magic of Wellmet can survive in the face of the assault from Arhionvar.
FOUND easily lives up to the promise of the other books in this delightful trilogy, giving the reader a thrill-a-minute ride to the very end. Conn --- wily, bright and determined to do the right thing at any cost to himself --- leaps off the pages of the book as a memorable and intriguing young hero. His many friends, such as Nevery Flinglas, the stern but goodhearted wizard; Benet, a bear of a man who loves to bake, knit and clean; Rowan Forestal, the beautiful and brave daughter of the Dutchess; Kerrn, the dutiful yet fair captain of the Guard; and Embre, the mysterious pyrotechnics man from Twilight, all lend interest to the story.
The heart of the story, though, belongs entirely to the dragons, which breathe warmth, color and majestic beauty into the tale. I enjoyed how they were portrayed, as fundamentally mysterious and awe-inspiring creatures answerable only to themselves, rather than as large and cuddly rides as is sometimes the case. The scenes leading Conn up the mountains and into the dragon's lair are so vividly and gorgeously described that readers can see the entire breathtaking scene unfold in front of them in cinematographic scope, a sign perhaps that this trilogy would be just as enjoyable in movie format.
As with the previous books in the series, FOUND is visually gorgeous with artwork that is perfectly matched to this enchanting story. The cover art with its vibrant, gemlike color has immediate appeal, as do the many beautiful illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo, inserts of letters from different characters, knitting patterns, character guides, and secret rune codes that fill the pages of the book.
English professor, Tolkien expert, and dragon fan Sarah Prineas has given us a magical new fantasy classic for all ages. My only complaint is that the series was done before I was quite ready to say goodbye to Conn, Nevery, Pip and all the other characters.
--- Reviewed by Usha Reynolds