We at FanFiAddict want to thank Steve Caldwell (aka The Bookwyrm Speaks) for his review of Magic of Thieves.
In a province where magic is forbidden and its possessors are murdered by the cruel Praetor, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival. Concealment. In the shadow of Dimmingwood, she finds temporary protection with a band of forest brigands led by the infamous outlaw Rideon the Red Hand.
But as Ilan matures, learns the skills of survival, and struggles to master the inherent magic of her dying race, danger is always close behind. When old enemies reappear and new friendships lead to betrayal, will her discovery of an enchanted bow prove to be Ilan’s final salvation or her ultimate downfall?
I read about 200 books per year, mostly Fantasy. I have to say this book was a refreshing surprise. The story, about an orphan girl with magic name Ilan, could have been completely formulaic,with her discovering her magic, being raised by a kind mentor to utilize the magic, and then going off as a super powerful magic user to stop the evil…whatever. Instead, this is a much more relatable tale, with characters you really care about, or really loath. Magic is banned by the Praetor, so Ilans parents were killed as magic users by the Praetors soldiers. Ilan managed to escape, and a friendly neighbor paid a peddler to smuggle her to her people enclave in the next country over. Sadly, highwaymen robbed and killed the peddler, although the killing was accidental in a way. At first, a very young Ilan is left at the peddler’s wagon, but one of the highwaymen, who lost his family years ago, come back for her and takes her back to the camp. He there faces off with the bandit leader Rideon, who basically says she earns her keep or she’s dead. She joins the bandits, basically as a mascot, with cleanup duties. She also learns the skills of a bandit over the years, including using the bow, and even though her Foster father tries to protect her, she accompanies them on a raid. The raid goes badly, as a knight/monk with magic beats them badly. He also tells Ilan if she want to learn to use her magic beyond the basic person reading/compulsion she can use it for, she should meet him in a city a few days away. After a series of betrayals and setbacks among the bandits, Ilan leaves the bandits to seek her fortune with the monk who is willing to teach her magic.
The characters are a real strength in this. Carol Greenwood does a great job of bringing the characters to life, giving them realistic motivations, desires, dreams and ambitions. Ilan is particularly sympathetic, wanting to fit in and be part of the group, while being different with magic she can’t tell anyone about. She is strong, but not in a ridiculous way that makes her some kind of tank warrior, just a 15 year old girl that has been trained by a bunch of bandits in their various skills. You find yourself rooting for her, as she goes through the typical growing pains of that age, while meeting the demands of a taskmaster of a bandit leader. Ridion is a bit of a mystery, since he seems to be more than he appears. All in all, a very good book. Fans of Jennifer Roberson and Steven McKay should really enjoy this book.