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Thieftaker (The Thieftaker Chronicles) Hardcover – July 3, 2012
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“D. B. Jackson has masterfully woven history and fantasy to create a pre-Revolutionary Boston that should have been. Peopled by an array of entertaining characters from conjurers to revolutionaries, Thieftaker is a compelling debut novel by a writer who knows what he's doing. I look forward to reading more of Ethan Kaille's adventures!” ―C. E. Murphy, author of Urban Shaman and The Queen's Bastard
“An elegant, intricate tale of a multilayered, tortured conjurer and a world on the brink of war. With skillful, clever plotting and prose sharper than a spelled blade, D. B. Jackson has woven real history with imagination and created a character and a story to believe in and cheer for.” ―Faith Hunter, bestselling and award-winning author of the Jane Yellowrock Series
“A beautiful balance of magic and crime, history and fantasy that was fast-paced, compelling, and completely absorbing. Historical fantasy that reads like an old-school crime novel, as if Raymond Chandler were channeling Jonathan Swift. I loved it!” ―Kat Richardson, bestselling author of the Greywalker series
About the Author
D. B. JACKSON was born in one of the thirteen colonies but now lives in Tennessee. Thieftaker is his first novel.
Top Customer Reviews
Set against the back story of increasing political unrest in mid 18th century Boston following the Stamp Act, Ethan is called upon to recover a missing broach and, more importantly, track down a murderer who is using spells to kill. Imagine Sherlock Holmes meets Harry Dresden and you have a pretty good idea of what this book is like. Ethan must rely on more than just magic to find this killer, and constantly be aware of the very real threat that his conjuring could get him burned at the stake. There's some lovely personal conflict as well involving Ethan's first love, his years spent in prison, and the new woman in his life who loves him fiercely.
THIEFTAKER was a completely immersive and thoroughly entertaining book. Jackson's well-researched historical details coupled with his fresh and comprehensive worldbuilding are not to be missed. Jim Butcher fans take note: Ethan could be Harry Dresden's forebearer. I'm anxious for more of Ethan's story in the next book in The Thieftaker Chronicles, THIEVES' QUARRY, which is scheduled for 2013.
Kissing. References to sex
There's a good deal of action, and Jackson is hard on his hero. Magic has a price, much like doing the right thing often does, when taking the darker path or giving up would be easier. Sometimes there are no "good" choices. Blood magic is not a new idea in fantasy, but Mr. Jackson uses it here in way that's deceptively simple. Kaille does what he has to do, and he doesn't give up. I like that, too.
Amid the first rumblings of revolution, Kaille contends with murder, the suspicions of those who mistrust conjurers (don't call him a witch!), and a deadly rivalry with another thieftaker, the supremely confident (and seductive) Sephira Pryce. Don't make the mistake of thinking women like her couldn't have existed in the colonies: A bit of reading into women's history will correct that impression, and you will find women doing just about everything that men did. Pryce is a nasty piece of work, but not omnipotent. I look forward to seeing what happens between her and Kaille in the next book.
I read fantasy for fun, and this book has everything I enjoy--a hero I can believe in, action, magic with a touch of darkness to it, even a bit of realistic romance. The historical angle is icing on the cake. A great read.
D.B. Jackson has previously written fantasy as David B. Coe. He also has a history PhD, and it shows. Thieftaker begins in late August, 1765 in Boston. I've long been of the opinion that we need more fantasy grappling seriously with the ideas of the Enlightenment, but at this point in the series pre-Revolutionary politics largely provide background.
Ethan Kaille is a thieftaker (never thiefcatcher, presumably) operating in pre-Revolutionary Boston. He's a man with a dark secret and a dark past. He has a very particular set of skills; skills that make him a nightmare for people like...well, thieves. You see, Kaille is a "conjurer." Conjurers "spell" using a familiar (in Kaille's case, a ghost dressed in medieval armor), some physical element (most commonly a few drops of their own blood, but leaves will do in a pinch), and a few words of Latin. He also spent time in penal colony (shush!) for his role in an infamous mutiny.
Jackson tries hard to give Thieftaker a pre-Revolutionary flavor. Details of dress, dinner, and décolletage are frequently mentioned. Historical events and figures are alluded to (and appear). It works to give the novel that "feel" that historical fiction demands, although the tendency of any lower-class character to speak apostrophese is grating (yes, I just invented that word).
Hardbitten mystery novel protagonists tend to fall into two camps: an everyman sort along for the ride (thus providing a vehicle for the audience to experience the mystery unfolding) or a super-genius solving the mystery through superior brainpower. Kaille is definitely an example of the former. He will literally get in a carriage with or follow anyone who asks. I would like to have seen more of the latter, but rest assured that when push finally comes to shove Kaille can shove back (and Kaille's reluctance to shove back initially is well grounded in guilt, morality, and fear of being burned at the stake). The resulting action sequences are very good, not the least because Kaille is forced to rely on his wits as much as his wizardry.
Kaille is a well rounded, fleshed-out, flawed protagonist. But what really sets Thieftaker apart, the single strongest point of the book, is how well rounded, fleshed-out, and flawed the minor characters are. Whether young or old, rich or poor, black or white, female or male, Patriot or Tory, they come off as real people, no matter how quickly they flit in and out of the story (apostrophese aside).