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The Magic Thief Paperback – April 21, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 187 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Magic Thief Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3–6—Conn, a pickpocket on the streets of Twilight, one day picks the pocket of a powerful wizard and steals his locus magicalicus, the center of his power. It should kill Conn, but it doesn't. Nevery, the wizard, has just returned after a 22-year exile, to try to save the town from the leaching of its magic, upon which so much, including its economy, depends. Curious about the boy, Nevery takes him on as an assistant and then an apprentice. Although it is the wizard's job to stem the tide of the disappearing magic, he seems unable to do so. Conn believes he knows the answer, but his enemies are closing in. Prineas has created an appealing cast of characters, which she carefully reveals through their actions. The story is told primarily by Conn, and is interspersed with cryptic journal entries by Nevery, which offer a tantalizing counterpoint to the protagonist's viewpoint. Their voices are consistent and well handled. Exciting without being frantic, the narrative wastes no time getting to the heart of the story. This novel would work well as a read-aloud, as it has a conversational rhythm that moves the plot along. The book is long, but the large print and appealing drawings will encourage younger readers. Fantasy and adventure lovers alike will groan when they get to the tantalizingly mischievous ending, and are likely to hound you until the sequel arrives.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Young Conn opens the first volume of this new trilogy, noting “A thief is a lot like a wizard.”  Conn is a thief but, through desire and inevitability, becomes a wizard by book’s end. This evolution begins when Conn picks the pocket of the wizard Nevery, who is startled that the nicked magical stone didn’t kill the boy. Nevery takes on Conn as a servant, but the boy’s inquisitiveness and talents move him to apprentice status. Nevery has recently returned to Willmet to save the city-state, which is faltering as its magic seeps away. As Conn becomes more enmeshed in his new life, he navigates through the intricate dealings of both the wizarding world and the political machinations of the Underlord. The events are not as lively as in some middle-grade fantasies—though Conn’s turn as a cat is delightful, and his search for his own stone is very well played. What works wonderfully well here is the boy’s irresistible voice, which is supplemented by the writings of Nevery in his journal, its creased and stained pages appearing as apart of the design. Readers will particularly enjoy the way Conn often knows just a little more than his master, and they’ll look forward to seeing how much more he learns as the series progresses. Grades 4-6. --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680 (What's this?)
  • Series: Magic Thief (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006137590X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061375903
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
THE MAGIC THIEF by Sarah Prineas is one of the most elegantly written and touching juvenile fantasy novels I've had the pleasure of reading to my ten year old in some time. The story centers around a young thief named Conn who pickpockets a locus magicalicus (a powerful stone that allows a wizard to unleash great magic) from an old wizard. The fact that Conn isn't struck dead at once interests the wizard enough to take him on as a servant. Conn says apprentice, but that's hardly the job he receives.

The old wizard is as disreputable in his own way as Conn is. Twenty years ago, Nevery was accused of attempting to kill the Duchess of Wellmet where Conn lives. Nevery was run out of town just ahead of the soldiers that would have doubtlessly hung him.

Now, twenty years later, Nevery is drawn back to the city because the magic that powers the place is mysteriously drying up. Nevery uses that predicament to leverage his own return and gets the Duchess to grant him amnesty for his past wrongs, even though he didn't try to kill her.

I love the way Prineas has Wellmet sectioned off into Twilight, Dusk House, Dawn Palace, and the other regions. Illustrator Antonio Javier Caparo's maps and drawings really established the tone well and led my son and me into a wonderful imaginary journey throughout the city. The place just feels real.

The relationship between the characters, though predictable because they are steeped in tradition, are even more wonderful because the reader knows what to expect. Prineas expertly moves those relationships along, teasing the reader with them.
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Format: Hardcover
In the aftermath of Harry Potter, numerous authors took up the mantle of writing stories of magic and wizardry. And Sarah Prineas offers up her debut novel, THE MAGIC THIEF, as just such an entry into the world of fantasy juvenile fiction.

Conn stumbles across a mysterious figure entering the Twilight side of the city of Wellmet, and the gutter boy picks his pockets and finds a strange stone. When Conn survives an attack from the stone, the mysterious man, Nevery Flinglas, takes the boy in. And thus begins their adventures, as Nevery tries to discover why the magic is draining out of the city and Conn just tries to figure out the mysteries surrounding his own life. Then they both discover the truth: if the magic disappears completely, all of Wellmet will be destroyed. And Conn may be the key to saving them all...

The premise seems promising, and there is mystery and magic enough to keep things interesting, but THE MAGIC THIEF just never quite caught me the way I thought it would. Things begin incredibly slowly, and for about a hundred pages, we follow the barely-speaking Conn around as he describes strange islands and the biscuits he has for breakfast every morning. The plot does pick up about halfway through, but by that time it's fairly obvious what is really going on. And the major plot twist comes at a strange moment, and almost doesn't feel true to the rest of the story.

But not all is lost. The setting, which is highly reminiscent of A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS or one of Tom Becker's DARKSIDE novels, shines in a gothic, turn-of-the-century way. And some of the characters are highly entertaining as well.
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