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Thieftaker (Thieftaker Chronicles #1)

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  1,985 Ratings  ·  411 Reviews

Boston, 1767: 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 othersâuntil he is asked to recov

Hardcover, 327 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Tor Books
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Jacob Proffitt
Aug 07, 2013 Jacob Proffitt rated it did not like it
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
Jun 04, 2012 Faith Hunter rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 10, 2012 Kara-karina rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 04, 2013 Gail rated it did not like it
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
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. )
Apr 23, 2014 Mark rated it really liked 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
Jul 25, 2012 E.K. Carmel rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, historical
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
Interesting and unique setting. Reads a bit like Dresden Files in the times just before the American Revolutionary War started. For my liking, the plot evolved a bit too slow. Overall a solid read, but nothing that blew me away.
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
Bryan Schmidt
Jul 23, 2012 Bryan Schmidt rated it it was amazing
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
All Things Urban Fantasy
Jul 01, 2012 All Things Urban Fantasy rated it really liked it
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
Sep 10, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it

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
This review needs a Foreword, I think; I was writing this as I listened, enjoying the book less and less, until at a certain point about two thirds of the way in I gave up, closed the player, went to the link in my Audible library that says "Didn't like the last book you listened to? You can return it" – and got my money back. I'm going to discuss why with spoilers at the end of this, so be warned.

On the author's website it says that this series is "sure to appeal to readers who enjoy intellige
Jul 24, 2012 Mitch rated it liked it
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
Wayland Smith
Jun 27, 2016 Wayland Smith rated it really liked it
There are a few different ways to describe this book. I settled on Dresden Files set in Colonial Boston about a decade before the American Revolution. Ethan Kaille works as a theiftaker, someone who specializes in recovering stolen property. It's sort of like a Colonial era private investigator. Thieftakers were real, by the way, just not really active in the Colonies at this point.

Kallie gets hired to recover a broach that vanished when a well to do young woman is murdered during a "Liberty ri
Feb 07, 2016 Jacqie rated it liked it
This is an enjoyable quick read, one of the books I call popcorn books- you devour them fast and don't think about them too hard. The idea of an urban fantasy set in colonial era America is a good one- I haven't read many books with that premise. The story is in the vein of a Harry-Dresden style detective story. Ethan Kaille works as a thieftaker- essentially a bounty hunter- in Boston at the sufferance of Sephira Pryce- he gets the little jobs and she takes the most prestigious ones. However, w ...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
Aug 20, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
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
Oct 06, 2014 Tasula rated it liked it
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
I started reading Thieftaker 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.
John Hartness
Jul 16, 2012 John Hartness rated it it was amazing
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 convivial curmudgeon
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,
Ranting Dragon
Jul 24, 2013 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it
Shelves: garrett

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
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
May 19, 2014 Katy rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jul 14, 2015 Absinthe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Thieftaker is a very good read, though there were a few moments where I questioned the logic of the plot. The ending will take you by surprise, and the time period that Jackson is writing in (just before the American Revolutionary War) piques my interest, especially in how Jackson will expound on the plot in the following books. I sense a deeper, more tightly woven plot coming on (or at least I hope so). I am fascinated by the system of magic used in the story and look forward to learning more a ...more
Feb 06, 2014 Alissa rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 11, 2012 Heidi rated it liked it
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
T. K. Elliott (Tiffany)
Thieftaker is the first book in a series by D.B. Jackson, introducing eighteenth-century Boston thieftaker Ethan Kaille. In the absence of a police force, if a citizen wants a thief, or stolen goods, found, then they must employ a thieftaker. Kaille, however, does not rely merely on traditional legwork - he can do magic.

Unlike many magic-is-real urban fantasy settings, this alternate 1767 Boston does not seem to have magic-users and magical beings all over the place. Magic-users - conjurers - ar
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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
  • Thieves' Quarry (Thieftaker Chronicles, #2)
  • A Plunder of Souls (Thieftaker Chronicles, #3)
  • Dead Man's Reach (Thieftaker Chronicles, #4)

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“Any noble cause will encounter its share of setbacks. The strength of that cause is measured in how the men who fight for it respond. We refuse to give up, which is why we will prevail eventually.” 2 likes
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