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Mark of the Thief (Mark of the Thief #1) Hardcover – February 24, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—A fantastical alternate history set in ancient Rome. Nicolas Calva and his sister are slaves in the mines outside of Rome. When Nic is forced to retrieve treasure from Julius Caesar's cave, he assumes he is going to his death. But inside the cave he finds a bulla, a magical amulet thought to have given Caesar great power, and takes it for himself. Suddenly, Nic is the most wanted fugitive in Rome. The emperor and a powerful general are after the amulet and they will kill Nic to get it. His only help is Aurelia, a plebian girl who is searching for her own family. With no one to trust and nowhere to hide, the protagonist must decide how he is going to save his sister and get out with his life. He doesn't want the bulla or the responsibility of the magic it contains, but if the magical object gets into the wrong hands, Rome will be at war and Nic will be at the center of it all. Fans of Nielsen's "Ascendance" trilogy (Scholastic) will be clamoring for this new series. This genre mash-up of history, fantasy, and action/adventure is fast-paced and explores themes such as class struggles, familial ties, and the immorality of slavery. Readers will have lots to digest as they quickly flip through the pages to see how Nic will escape his enemies to become a free man.—Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ
"The fast-paced, ingenious plot, charismatic hero and highly diverse cast of characters . . . make this series opener a captivating joy ride." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Vivid . . . [with] page-turning twists." -- Publishers Weekly
Praise for the Ascendance Trilogy
A New York Times Notable Children's Book
A USA Today Best Book of the Year
A Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best" Children's Book
A Cybils Award Winner
"A page-turner." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Sage proves to be a compelling character whose sharp mind and shrewd self-possession will make readers eager to follow him into a sequel." -- Wall Street Journal
"A swashbuckling origin story . . . chock-full of alluring details for adventure-loving boys." -- Los Angeles Times
"An impressive, promising story." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A fast-paced and thrilling read with twists and turns that never let up." -- School Library Journal
"Gripping." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Should appeal to fans of . . . Suzanne Collins. . . . A sure-fire mix of adventure, mystery, and suspense." -- The Horn Book
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Top Customer Reviews
Protagonist: Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is about to have is life changed forever. After finding a bulla that once belonged to Julius Ceaser himself, a bulla which seems to contain a strange power, he finds himself as the most wanted man in all of the Roman Empire. Nic is such a great character to read from. His character development is very tangible and it's was to see how he naturally changes over the course of the book. He starts off as a slightly disobedient slave but over the course of the book starts to not only see himself differently but the world in which he lives in a different light and starts to find his own place within it.
Romance: Much like the first book in Nielsen's previous series, The Ascendance trilogy, this book puts no real focus on the romance, but instead only really hints at it coming and has the book focus so much more on the characters and plot. Though there does seem to be some more intense foreshadowing about the romance than there was in her previous series. The feelings between the characters in question are even addressed a few times over the course of the book, though nothing close to the amount that it probably would be if this were a YA novel instead.
World-Building: While I wouldn't necessarily call this a mythology book, like I would a Rick Riordan book, Roman mythology does drive this story quite a bit. Though the mythology is focused more on the divine magic of the gods as opposed to the legends about gods and heroes. Everything in this book from characters, setting, and the plot is so richly described that there was not a single moment where I felt that the book even started to drag, it's fast paced and full of a lot of great action and adventure.
Predictability: Once again Nielsen works her foreshadowing magic in feats of brilliance. While there were, of course, times that I would predict something, the moments I was shocked far outweighed the times when I knew what was coming. Sometimes the twist would come from outside forces, but sometimes, much like Nielsen's book The False Prince, out narrator, Nic, would hide something from the reader only to have it be revealed later and completely blow my mind.
Ending: The ending of this book was magnificent. Everything came to a head in ways I never thought it would, especially not for this first installment. The twists at the end though were probably my favorite part. Though the final climax is full of magic and action, the twists sort of outshine that. As things were revealed everything sort of clicks into place and really reveals the brilliance of Nielsen's carefully crafted foreshadowing. The very end has a fairly large cliffhanger that has left me dying to read the next installment
So, I said in my review of The Runaway King that Jennifer A. Nielsen had become one of my favorite authors, and while that may have been a bit premature considering I had only read two books, which were both from the same series, by her, this book is definitely a testament to that statement. I cannot wait to see what's next for this series.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
1. Nick takes a magic amulet
2. Powerful Romans want the amulet
Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen is a fast paced fictional story about a Roman slave named Nic.Read more