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Take a Thief (Valdemar (Publication order) #25)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  9,269 ratings  ·  126 reviews
Mercedes Lackey's triumphant return to the best-selling world of Valdemar, Take a Thief reveals the untold story of Skif--a popular character from Lackey's first published novel, Arrows of the Queen.

Skif was an orphan who would have died from malnutrition and exposure if he had never met Deke the pickpocket. By the time he was twelve, Skif was an accomplished cat burglar.
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Paperback, 435 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by DAW (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dorian
Structurally, this book is, IMO, rather unsound. The major conflict doesn't appear until nearly halfway through - the entire first part of the book is introducing Skif, showing his crappy life and how he becomes a thief, and basically setting up for the big disaster. After the disaster, there's a longish chunk of him flailing about looking for information, in the course of which he gets Chosen to be a Herald, and then the resolution comes rather wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am in the final two chapters. ...more
Chuck
Number 27 of 100 to e read in 2010 . . .

I have to say that I think the three novels Lackey wrote in the early 2000s that deal with the interim time between when Selenay takes the throne of Valdemar and when Talia becomes her chief adviser (the Queen's Own) are in many ways the best. These novels, the first two of which deal with Alberich (and who figures prominently in this book) explore issues of honor, of why people fight, and of society and justice as well as any speculative fiction I've eve
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Mariah
Much of Take a Thief reads like a fantasy version of Oliver Twist- an orphan boy who runs away and joins a gang of pickpockets. Skif is a clever and resourceful lad who learns to survive no matter what. Skif’s routine is interrupted with a tragic fire- which he suspects was not an accident. As he investigates it, he finds that the arson is connected with other wrongdoing. The wretched circumstances which he and his peers endure is astounding- it reminded me of the all too real poverty that exist ...more
Kelcey
I was rereading the Arrows trilogy and I was reminded how much fun Skif is which in turn reminded me that he had his own book and I had never read it. Immediate book guilt plagued me so I picked it up at the library and read it as soon as was possible. Skif is a lot of fun and while he had a pretty miserable upbringing which didn’t make for very fun reading, the second half of the book was worth everything that preceded it. Seeing how Skif and Alberich “met”, how Skif was chosen and getting to k ...more
Speedtribes
Oh Mercedes Lackey. In an authorial move that had left me severely disappointed in both the Storm Warning series and Exile's series-- she does it again. What could have been an interestingly nuanced coming of age story about a young thief boy's inclusion in an elite group of morally superior and God-backed do-gooders, Mercedes Lackey imposes a ham fisted moral preachiness onto the characters. (One must only be all good or all bad -- well, unless you do bad for the good, in which case it's all ri ...more
Beatrice
Skif is a thief, it's as plain as that. Having been through some pretty hard knocks all his life, he has learned to make his way by stealing, and yet he remains open-hearted, intelligent, and lucky. Then one day he spies a horse just standing there.....is it the worst theft of his life? Or the best? And what does it mean to be Chosen? Can one small boy who has never had anything of his own learn what it means to belong?

I enjoyed this book rather more than I thought I would. The plot twists are l
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Amandine
My first Lackey book and I fell in love :) Skif is one of my favorite characters of all time and I was so excited to see him pop up in other books
Christine
This book started off a little slow for me. I found it difficult at times to get over the phonetic spelling for all of the dialogue. Despite the slow beginning, where the base groundwork for the character is given, it really picks up between 1/3 to 1/2 way through. Once I got to that point I couldn't put the book down, this was the first of Mercedes Lacky's books that I've ever read and though once wonderful once it got to where it was really aiming it probably shouldn't be the first one read in ...more
Becky
Skif's good at what he does. What he does is steal. An orphan in the poorest district of Valdemar's capital city, Skif has learned the hard way how to survive. He's made a comfortable life for himself taking from the Highborn who can afford it. Then, one terrible night, his life shatters. A fire takes the life of his guardian and mentor . . . a fire set on purpose. Suddenly, Skif has a new goal: revenge. He's close to attaining it when one of the magical horses known as Companions shows up out o ...more
Travis Simmons
I give this book 4 stars. I wasn't really sure I wanted to give it 4 stars until I finished it. Why? The book was long. The book described so much that I often found my mind wandering. Of course, if I had been prepared for this much in depth building of Valdemar, I would have loved it, but I was anticipating a Valdemar book of old, where it was light, fun, and fast paced. This book wasn't that.

What I can say is this book finally gave me the in depth visual of everyday life in Valdemar that I've
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Carol Gibson
Skif is one of my favorite characters in the series. He lacks the angst of Talia or Vanyel. The first 3/4 of the book is wonderful learning about Skif's background and the things that shaped him. If the last part of the book when he is chosen to be a herald had been better I would have given this book five stars.

But the ending is weak and when the villain is reviled you are left wondering who is the dickens was this guy. And why should I care that he is the villain.

One other complaint I have is
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Victoria
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series provides one of the cornerstones of my reading history. After discovering her when quite young, I still follow new additions to the series - nearly twenty years later! I read and re-read these books over and over again throughout my youth, but I haven't re-read this series in its entirety in a long time - and never as an adult. There are some new books added to the series since the last time I read them, so this re-reading project is pretty exciting for me since ...more
Bibliotropic
With this novel, Lackey starts an examination of the histories and backstories of characters established in previous books. In this case, the character is Skif, first introduced to us in the very first Valdemar novel, Arrows of the Queen. Introduced there as an ex-thief and now-Herald, Take a Thief takes us back in time to Skif's childhood, telling the story of how he became a thief and how he was Chosen in the first place.

The story has Skif established as a somewhat quick-witted child in a negl
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Jeremy Preacher
I like Take A Thief - it's probably the closest to a truly standalone novel in the series, Skif is an engaging character, and the seedy underside of Haven is a surprisingly rich world (given that Valdemar is basically the ideal modern-liberal nation.) If you don't like dialect, though, it's going to totally fall apart for you, because that's pretty much all there is. (I find dialect totally readable - doesn't bug me at all.) The magical talking horse side of the book is the least of it, and it's ...more
Annette
I discovered Lackey's "Valdemar" fiction a year or so ago and quickly devoured 1/2 a dozen of her books. They're not top-10 material, by any means - I mean, no-one would compare her to Tolkien - but they're comfortable and enjoyable. Let's say that Tolkien is a fine steak dinner from a good restaurant. By comparison, Lackey is a higher end hamburger - say, Red Robin. No-one would say a burger is better than a steak, but a burger is still perfectly enjoyable (not to mention far more common), and ...more
Jen
No excuse, really. I was in a used bookstore and needed something lite to read on the train and was feeling nostalgic, even though the last time I tried to read one of Lackey's more recent books it was a disaster. Turns out this one wasn't so bad. Still, pretty formulaic and I'm not sure the fun of the thief trope made up for the lack-luster plot. Lots of extraneous descriptions of things we really don't need to know about made the novel longer than it should have been.
Pamela
I love Lackey's Valdemar series; however, here she borrows so much from Dickens' Oliver Twist that it's extremely distracting. She basically recasts Fagan and his band of child-thieves as sympathetic Robin Hood-type guys who steal from the rich only and who take in young Skif, who's had a pretty bum life so far. Some passages are lifted straight from the Dickens original, such as teaching Skif how to steal hankerchiefs. It was an enjoyable read, though, despite the ridiculously over-the-top thie ...more
Laura
I hesitated to add this to my young adult shelf. I, after all, read it as an adult and found it enthralling. Mercedes Lackey is an excellent writer and her Valdemar universe is one of the finest fantasy settings I've ever encountered. Her books are always clean although not clean in the way adults would like it. Rape, child molestation, jealousy, and other crimes and vices occur regularly in Valdemar yet Valdemar is really an adventure universe. There aren't any graphic descriptions of what occu ...more
April
Nov 18, 2014 April added it
This book is a home run. It's the book that got me interested into exploring Valdemar in the first place. I love the wit, and humor that is in practically every page, though subtle enough not to throw off the plot and drama of the main story. The main character is great. The other characters are great, and I LOVE The companions. THat is the other reason I started reading about Valdemar.
***Dave Hill
A relatively late addition to the Valdemar series, this done-in-one focuses on Skif, the thief who becomes a Herald.

There's good stuff in here -- much of his life-as-thief should be required reading for anyone playing that sort of character in a D&D setting, and our chance to see another perspective on some of the Elspeth-era Heralds (Alberich more particularly) is a lot of fun.

By the same token, a lot of the plot feels just a bit contrived, the Big Plot / Antagonist turns out to be a bit a
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 28, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Valdemar Fans
Although I do love Lackey's Valdemar, centered on the heroic Heralds and their horse-shaped magical "Companions," I don't think this is among the strongest books in that series, and if you're new to it, I'd recommend starting instead with Arrows of the Queen, the first published book within the series, even if chronologically later.

Skif, the protagonist of Take a Thief is a character in Arrows of the Queen and it was interesting reading a book centered on him that gives his backstory. In that r
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♥Xeni♥
This is another single story set in the world of Valdemar (akin to Brightly Burning or By the Sword). For that, it's a good one to jump in with, if you haven't yet been introduced to Valdemar.

Skif is a young thief on the streets of Haven, who just so happens to steal the wrong horse. That starts his adventure at learning to not take what he can, and rather give back to his country as a Herald.

I love this book. Lackey does an excellent job of portraying the horrible fate that awaits those that a
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Meagan
This one always gets me right in the feels. I like getting to read about a side of Valdemar that isn't whitewashed into sparkling perfection. Of course, even this story has a lot of Lackey's brand of good/evil extreme dichotomy, but I loves Skif so much it doesn't matter.
Kathleen
I have always liked the hints we get that Valdemar--while very much worth protecting--is not a perfect place. Skif--the boy-thief Herald--has always been a big part of that depiction. Therefore, this story, which I will call the Oliver Twist of Valdemar, is a fascinating look at the poverty and inequality within Haven. Of course, unlike classic London, Skif's Fagin Bazie isn't even a little bit cruel, but rather cruelly murdered. After which Skif becomes a vigilante for justice and eventually me ...more
Andrea
Lackey is one of my favorite authors ever but I must admit this was not one of my favorite books. I started reading Lackey in 8th grade but I will still pull out her books to reread them or read her newest publications just to see what she comes up with next. Her character building is really her main strength – you want to meet her characters – which is probably why I always reach for her books as a pick-me-up, it’s like talking to old friends. This novel is really just a whole book for one of L ...more
Kryss Summers
I loved seeing Skif before him came a Herald. And I'm not surprised to find him enlisted by Alberich to find out who burned out Skif's home.

When does Orthallen get what is coming to him?!
Delicious Strawberry
This is the first (and only) Valdemar novel I've read. I'm familiar with Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, so I already liked her style. This book looked interesting and I tried it out, and really liked it.

This book is part of the Valdemar universe, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel, since I found myself able to keep up with the story, it was mostly self-contained and required little knowledge of the Valdemar universe it was set in. The story follows that of a young man named S
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Turtles
A re-read from many, many moons ago. A bit spoiled since I've been reading about Mags' life (from a later written book) and ML re-hashed some of her ideas in that.
D
I tried to read The Last Herald-Mage series and didn't get very far with it, so I thought I'd try to read something else by Mercedes Lackey and sort of transition into the Vanyel books. This one is definitely more readable than Magic's Pawn, but as I was reading Patrick Rothfuss at the same time, I'm afraid Mercedes Lackey just didn't make the mark.

Would probably finish this someday, since the prose is quite readable, the characters somewhat cute (although this being book5 I expect lots of refer
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Rebecca
Great series, really enjoyed the whole story and plot line.

Also has great characters and builds up the world of valedmar even more.
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1) Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #1) By the Sword (Valdemar: Kerowyn's Tale, #1) Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #3) Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #2)

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