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Thieftaker (Thieftaker Chronicles #1)

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  1,471 ratings  ·  344 reviews
Boston, 1765: In D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover ...more
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Tor Books
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Chris McGrath Book Covers
9th out of 121 books — 35 voters
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Best Historical Fiction Covers
3rd out of 56 books — 36 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jacob Proffitt
This book started out okay. Ethan is a mildly interesting pseudo-noir detective in an alternative Boston pre-American Revolution. There's anger and mobs in the streets and lots and lots of political intrigue around home rule vs. loyalty to the king. Jackson does a decent job of invoking the times and the region feels solid in a way that bespeaks excellent research and a love of the city.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the protagonist, Ethan, is a blithering idiot. I'm not sure what I should exp
Faith Hunter
This is one of those times that I need a sixth star. Thieftaker is one of the best debut books I have ever read. It has everything - wonderful writing, amazing world building (this isn't your mama's history) lovely magical system, sexual tension, intensity, conflict/plot tension, and a main character who is still with me. D.B.Jackson did a masterful job. It's like a modern urban fantasy set in an alternate history where magic is real.

I have known this author (writing under another name) in the p
Egalley thanks to Tor/Forge Books
If you noticed how many books are getting high grades from me in the last couple of's not because I'm getting soft, I'm just being very lucky and keep finding really really enjoyable reads *fingers crossed, the luck will hold*

Thieftaker is one of such books. I enjoyed it immensely. Full of rich, well-rounded characters, extremely atmospheric and just riveting.

I loved Ethan Kaille. He is in his late thirties, tired, wise and bedraggled. In his y
D.B. Jackson
Mar 21, 2014 D.B. Jackson added it  ·  (Review from the author)
This is my first historical fantasy, the initial volume in my Thieftaker Chronicles. I hope you enjoy it. If you're interested in checking out the first three chapters for free (and who doesn't love free stuff?) please visit my web site and click on the "Freebies" link. Thanks! (Oh, and as for the "Currently Reading" status on my own book, I've still got copyedits and proofs to get through, so technically speaking, I am still reading it. )
A very well written historical fantasy, well reseached history of the era concerned.

if you fancy something different then this is for you.
E.K. Carmel
I'm always looking for fantasy novels set in different times and places than the traditional medieval European setting. Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson goes one further: it's historical fantasy, set in colonial Boston. While I'm a history lover, I prefer it ancient, and my memories of 1760s America involve memorizing boring dates and events while chained to a school desk. However, I'm very happy to say this novel isn't like that – at all.

Ethan Kaille isn't a typical thieftaker, making his living app
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

I don't have much to say about Thieftaker upon finishing this medium length novel about a paranormal investigator of sorts. I wanted to love it, I was sold on the idea of the story itself (American historical fiction with magic! In Boston! In 1765!) but though I moderately liked this novel, it doesn't leave much of an impression upon finishing. I hate writing these kinds of wishywashy "wish I'd liked it better" reviews; they are the hardest to write

So I definitely love Ethan, for all he gets a little whiney sometimes. I think he's permitted. I like he's great at hunting down thieves, but give him murders and conspiracy theories and the poor bastard can't catch a break. I love that despite everything he's been through, it hasn't broken him. I like he's had a hard life, and makes do, and doesn't ever stay whiny too long.

Love the magic, the setting is a lot of fun, and the author never gets LOOK AT WHAT I KNOW about it, which is always refres
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

We don’t see an abundance of male protagonists in urban fantasy, and we see still fewer that are really great. Fortunately, D.B. Jackson’s Ethan Kaille falls into that category. THIEFTAKER, the first book in The Thieftaker Chronicles follows a conjurer, or wizard, in colonial America who uses his magic to eke out a living as a thieftaker. Everything in this book is meticulously researched. The time period feels completely real. The dialogue, clothing, a
Bryan Schmidt
Imagine, if you will, the dark streets of Boston. Trouble is afoot, a revolution against the wealthy and the authorities. Equality and justice are demanded by protesting crowds, some of which get out of hand at times, leading to smoky, dark nights. Add to that ghosts and dark magic at hand, a secret sorcerer working his will in the midst of the chaos. Sounds like a pretty good urban fantasy, right?
Now imagine all this is occurring during the Stamp Act uprising in the 18th Century. Samuel Adams a
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I'm not very good at suspension of disbelief. I don't like having to feel my way through a story; I much prefer standing on both feet when I dive into a book. As a result, I tend to shy away from fantasy and hardcore scifi, because I'm kind of a tech/fantasy dummy and, like I said, I'm impatient with learning a new world.

However, I am really a big fan of novels set during the US Colonial era, especially those in Boston, so I really was seduced by the idea of this book from the get go. Having enj
Stupid book. I can't even finish it. Boston, 1765. Our hero, after a beating that would put the rest of us in intensive care, dashes out into the night to solve a murder, nimble as Batman, except for his aching knees when he crouches down to talk to a kid in the street. He's not as young as he used to be, you see. Upon returning home, he locks the door in case his attackers decide to return and props a chair under the doorKNOB for good measure. When that doesn't sound quite right, a quick Google ...more
The story takes place in pre-American Revolution Massachusetts, where witchcraft is feared and can still result in hanging, and the main character- a conjurer who works to find lost items- interacts with locals including Samuel Adams and others protesting against British rule. The incipient rebellion figures into the mystery of who killed a young woman and stole her heirloom brooch. The protagonist is a patient, good hearted man, but I probably would have enjoyed the book more if he had been a l ...more
Thieftaker is probably a little too complex for its own good. I mean, yes, it's about Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker in pre-Revolutionary Boston, and he's solving a murder with the rumblings of the American Revolution in the backdrop, but there are just so many things going on I'm not entirely sure they come together that well. I couldn't see a point to the story for about the first quarter of the book, and, even now that I'm finished, the ending feels rather anti-climatical and I still don't see th ...more
I was really looking forward to this book. A fantasy alt-history set just before the outbreak of the American War of Independence. Sounds right up my alley. But unfortunately it just wasn't quite good enough.

Telling the story of thieftaker Ethan Kaille, a conjurer with a dark past, who is living day-to-day as a man who works catching thieves for the lower parts of society. After a member of high society dies via suspicious causes Ethan is hired to investigate further and ends up in a complex wor
Thieftaker is sure to be a huge success among genre fans looking for something a bit different. Not only is this different, but it’s also rather intelligent. I learned quite a bit from reading Thieftaker and I’m not ashamed to admit that this book started many-a-internet search for more information regarding certain historical events and details. Jackson is a practiced fantasy author with a true gift for wordsmithing. Pre-Revolutionary Boston shines in Thieftaker, and so does Ethan Kaille and th ...more
John Hartness
lush descriptions, wonderful characters, and a lot of scenes in a pub! What more could a drunkard like me ask for? D.B. Jackson's new historical urban fantasy novel is a bag full of awesome!
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
One of the things which drew me to this book was the time period that it was set in. I haven't encountered a lot of historical fiction books set around the Revolutionary War, and certainly none that don't deal with the war directly.

So it was rather disappointing that the time period felt barely relevant to the story. Aside from a reference to one historical event and a few historical personages (such as Samual Adams), it felt like the story could've taken place anywhere and when. More than that,
May 19, 2014 Katy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction, urban fantasy, mysteries
Recommended to Katy by: D.B. Jackson
Picked this one up at Dragon Con (read all about Dragon Con 2013 here), and since the author was there, I was able to have it signed! Check it out.

Book Info: Genre: Historical urban fantasy/mystery
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: those who enjoy historical fiction and urban fantasy
Trigger Warnings: murder, violence, torture
Animals: dog is killed

My Thoughts: This is a wonderfully twisty mystery, set in a fantastical version of history where magic and mayhem combine in an explosive manner. Whi
Thieftaker starts in 1765, eight years before the Boston Tea Party and eleven years before the Revolutionary War. Civil unrest is stirring, growing from a mewl to a roar, as the colonies begin to rebel against the taxes forced on them by the British crown.

The story centers around the thieftaker Ethan Kaille. As a thieftaker, Ethan is tasked with finding the stolen property of others in exchange for payment. Ethan’s true power rests in his ability to conjure spells–a power that damned him in his
Ranting Dragon

When the daughter of one of Boston's wealthiest is murdered with no apparent cause of death, her family goes to the only person they can: Ethan Kaille, conjurer. Upon investigation, it is readily apparent to Ethan that the girl was murdered with magic. However, he has competition that doesn't appreciate his being hired for this particular job.

Throw in two opposing factions, rising tensions both political and personal, a murderous antagonist so far out of E
Ok so I started reading this, but I just can't really get into it. The story is just meh and so are the characters. It also kind of bothers me that the main character is still in love with a former flame, but sleeping with someone else. It also bothers me that he seems to either be loyal to the crown or not care either way. Maybe that changes later in the book, I don't know, but it's not keeping my interest enough for me to want to find out. So I think I am abandoning this one.
This book was slow. Really slow. I didn't like he main character at all - he was inconsistent, dense, and got beaten to a bloody pulp most of the book. The magic system had TONS of holes in it. The last 50-100 pages were somewhat interesting - although nothing really surprising. I really wanted to like this book - the premise sounded really great. I just didn't like it. I gave it two stars because I didn't hate it - I didn't want to burn it or rip it to pieces - I was just bored by it most of th ...more
It was an interesting book but it rambled in some parts. I would rate it a 3 1/2.
Thieftaker is a glorious combination of mystery, fantasy and historical fiction.

D.B. Jackson, the pseudonym of fantasy author David B. Coe, has created his own genre, born from his love of fantasy and American history.

The result is a wonderful new series featuring Etahn Kaille, a thieftaker (someone who recovers stolen goods for their owner) and conjurer (someone who might also be referred to as a witch) in colonial Boston.

Much thanks to the Fountain Bookstore in Richmond (one of my regional US
Joseph Finley
I truly enjoyed this book.Ethan Kaille, loyal subject of the Crown, is a near-middle-aged theiftaker—someone who, for a price, retrieves stolen goods and makes the thieves disappear (being the moral type, Kaille encourages them to leave town, though other thieftakers aren’t so kind). But there’s a twist: Kaille is also a conjurer, who can use magic, usually by drawing his own blood and summoning the power of his spectral guardian, an old medieval ghost he calls Uncle Reg. In this sense, the worl ...more
3.5 stars.

Jackson admits that he at least considered placing this story in a fictional environment. His decision to place it in history improves the story and the fun. That he did such a good job of evoking 1768 Boston helped, too.

Thieftaker is a eerie blend of the mundane (If historical) and the fantastic. In this case several characters are conjurers, not to be confused with witches—which confusion one would definitely wish to avoid given Massachusetts Bay Colony’s history for dealing with wit
Jana Oliver
With abundant skill, author D.B. Jackson draws us into this classic urban fantasy, given new life because of the unique setting (Boston 1765). The city is a powder keg where iron-fisted British rule is riding herd on independent streak of the colonists. Jackson's strong eye for detail makes you feel as if you're standing in the muddy and dung-strewn streets, watching as history works it's way toward a very special day in 1776.

But this isn't just a historical piece. Every story has to have a stro
Linda Baker
THIEFTAKER by D. B. Jackson is a book that has been sitting on my TBR list for quite a while. After speeding my way through this very impressive debut fantasy I could only smack myself in the forehead and ask, "what took me so long"? Set in an alternate 1765 Boston roiling with preRevolutionary fervor and magic, THIEFTAKER tells the tale of Ethan Kaille, a conjurer trying to make a living by using his talents to catch thieves.

Ethan has had a very tough life. He was convicted as a mutineer again
2.5 Stars

Originally reviewed here.

I’ve had a lot of reading discoveries in the past year, but one of my favorites has been the discovery of the Urban Fantasy genre. I was always a fantasy girl, but give it the edge of our own world, an urban setting, and usually a pretty kick butt protagonist, and I was pretty well sold right out of the gate. Now, before I got all big and fangirly about fantasy, I was all big and fangirly about historical fiction…but then I mostly stopped reading it, for somethi
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D.B. Jackson, author of historical fantasy

D.B. Jackson has been writing fantasy and science fiction under a different pen name for over fifteen years. He has published novels, short stories, and media tie-ins in more than a dozen languages. He also has a Ph.D. in American History, and now, for the first time in his career, he is combining his love of fantasy with his passion for history. His first historical fantasy series, The Thieftaker
More about D.B. Jackson...

Other Books in the Series

Thieftaker Chronicles (6 books)
  • A Spell of Vengeance (Thieftaker Chronicles, #0.5)
  • The Price of Doing Business: A Tor.Com Original
  • Thieves' Quarry (Thieftaker Chronicles, #2)
  • A Plunder of Souls (Thieftaker Chronicles, #3)
  • Dead Man's Reach (Thieftaker Chronicles, #4)
Thieves' Quarry (Thieftaker Chronicles, #2) A Plunder of Souls (Thieftaker Chronicles, #3) A Spell of Vengeance (Thieftaker Chronicles, #0.5) The Price of Doing Business: A Tor.Com Original They Rode Good Horses

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