Published: May 27th 2014 by Orbit Books
Format: Paperback, 553 pages
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In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen's world faces.
Elsewhere, in an land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer's daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it -- should she dare to risk the Angels' wrath.
But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands... and not even the people they trust.
Like all of Canavan’s books, Thief’s Magic is brilliantly characterised and well plotted. I have really enjoyed it and urge readers to pick up her latest offering.
The book is told in dual point-of view, with each character getting many chapters to tell their story before a switch. While at first there doesn’t seem to be anything in common with Tyen and Rielle, the longer one reads the more intriguing their connections get. Tyen is a university student who can use magic. He is ostensibly studying Archaeology, but his professors and fellow students are basically trying to retrieve valuable items for the Academy to keep their jobs. On one of these “field research” expeditions, Tyen finds a book that can communicate with him (think Tom riddle’s diary). The book calls herself “Vella”. Elsewhere, Rielle has been taught that using magic taints the soul and is punishable by damnation by the Angels. Priests rule her city and she must always keep her ability to see magic a secret.
Tyen and Rielle are great characters, drawn vividly and given a lot of personality by the author. They’re both young, both in age and in terms of their experiences in the world, and this means that they make some very questionable decisions, but Canavan’s clever writing means that I was rarely frustrated with them.
There’s a very sweet forbidden romance in this book! Rielle’s parents make her go to lessons in another area of her city in the hopes that she will attract the attention of one of her classmates’ brothers or cousins. But Rielle, who comes from a family of dyers, can’t get an artist named Izare out of her head! Her parents would NOT approve, which I rather think adds to his appeal 😉
Vella can read the thoughts of anyone who holds her, and is thusly a valuable source of information for Tyen. There’s little I can say for fear of spoilers, but the secrets she holds are exciting and open up many new possibilities for our protagonists.
I can’t talk about the world-building either, except to say that obviously magic plays a huge part and that I thought it was great! Magic is a naturally occurring commodity in this book and its use depletes reserves and leaves behind a smokey residue. Magic will eventually be restored to the area, but obviously country areas are more abundant than cities. I loved it!
My bone concern about this book is that it is very much a first book in a series. It basically sets everything up and then … ends. A lot happens in this book, and I enjoyed it immensely, but it’s obviously setting up a much grander story for the series. I don’t mind it – it is a brilliant read! – but other readers may be frustrated by this.
Thief’s Magic, like Canavan’s earlier Black Magician series, is written in a clear, easy-to-read style that will appeal to readers who like YA. It isn’t strictly classified YA, but again like the Black Magician books, I won’t be surprised if they’re eventually re-branded as such.
I think Thief’s Magic is a wonderful beginning to a great new story. This is an amazing book, and it’s left me desperate for the next instalment. I want to know if Tyen and Rielle will meet (and what they’ll make of each other haha) and exactly how their stories are connected.