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

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  11,350 Ratings  ·  167 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. ...more
Paperback, 435 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by DAW (first published 2001)
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Jun 09, 2010 Bibliotropic rated it really liked it
Shelves: valdemar, fantasy
(Reread in 2016 because I was in a lousy mood this morning and needed a comfort-read.)

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
Mar 16, 2010 Chuck rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 20, 2017 Kirsti rated it it was amazing
Another book in the Valdemar novels, Take a Thief first drew me in with it's beautiful jacket cover- the white horse or Companion on the from cover is enlarged on the back in a beautiful way, really cementing the idea of Companions. Cymry is a great character on her own, and add to that the fact that we get Skif's back story (Since he features in many of the main stories, it's about time) this book is close to perfection. It's one of the few Valdemar books my library owns, although they are look ...more
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
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
Jul 29, 2012 Dorian rated it liked it
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
Nov 05, 2014 Kelcey rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 02, 2014 Amandine rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2017 Miriam rated it really liked it
I still really like this book, especially the parts before Skif is Chosen. I would happily have read a whole book about him breaking into the houses of the rich, but I guess there isn't any conflict in that. Still, the focus on the thief-parts on the book, uch as I enjoy them, does lead to the Collegium parts being strangely abbreviated, with barely any attention paid to Skif's schooling or him learning to fit in with the other Trainees. Nonetheless, the mystery is executed well and finished in ...more
Jessalyn King
Jan 05, 2017 Jessalyn King rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, grown-human
Valdemar is always such a pleasure to return to. I enjoyed reading with Alberich again, and Skif was sweet.
Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard
Apr 29, 2013 Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard rated it really liked it
If you’ve read Lackey’s Valdemar books, chances are you’re familiar with Skif, the former thief and Talia’s friend and fellow trainee in Arrows of the Queen. (He’s also in Arrow’s Flight and Arrow’s Fall, and has a larger role in the Mage Winds trilogy.) Take a Thief is Skif’s backstory: his childhood, years as a thief, and first year as a Herald Trainee. And apart from a few small inconsistencies with both earlier and later books, it’s fairly well done.

Skif is one of those “charming rogues” tha
I enjoyed listening to this book but it was particularly special or engrossing.
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
Sep 03, 2015 Skye rated it really liked it
Shelves: easy-reading, fantasy
I loved the character of Skif from Lackey’s The Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. So it was such a pleasure to read more about his adventures and Choosing. I really enjoy how Lackey’s books continue to expand upon the stories of well-loved characters. This prolonged exposure is instrumental in my (slightly ridiculous) attachment to her characters.

Take a Thief showed a very different style to Lackey’s normal writing. I really enjoyed this change of pace. I found that although I normally love her books
Sep 15, 2016 Arch rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Very interesting, I must say. I always have been curious about Skif's story, and I read this book with pleasure. It is well written and rich in detail, even though I imagined something more... dramatic, let's say? but still, it is really good.
Jan 21, 2015 TheCosyDragon rated it it was amazing
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

Skif lives out on the streets, trying to find a spot of warmth and a bite to eat whenever and where ever he can. When his old mentor is murdered, little does Skif know that this will set him onto an entirely new path.

Skif's one of those awesome protagonists that you admire for his bravery, skills and sense of humour. Yay, a male protagonist that
Nov 01, 2013 Becky rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Carol Gibson
Jun 21, 2013 Carol Gibson rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-and-fantasy
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
Jo Oehrlein
Mar 02, 2015 Jo Oehrlein rated it liked it
Nice that this is one Lackey book about a child/teenager that's NOT misunderstood and angst-y.

Skif has a rough life, but he's surrounded by people who have it equally as hard or harder, so he doesn't feel put upon.

Interesting that he intentionally doesn't learn his figuring because to do so would exempt him from mandatory schooling and free breakfast. One of those potentially unintended side effects. I wonder how many other students intentionally don't succeed?

Thought it was weird that it's Ort
Jeremy Preacher
Dec 26, 2009 Jeremy Preacher rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Jan 03, 2016 Evelyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 52-in-2016
My biggest gripe about this book, and this could have just been the version that I read, was that it seemed very poorly edited. Nothing takes me out of the flow of a book like a room "lit by lanterns depending from the ceiling."

Beyond that, I found Take a Thief to be an engaging read packed with interesting, believable characters. Skif was a charming lead (although I was never quite able to figure out how old he was) who was always trying to make the best of his miserable situation. He was join
Kristy Halseth
Feb 09, 2015 Kristy Halseth rated it really liked it
I'm rereading all the Valdemar books and this is one of my favorites. My only real problem is that a comment in the story places it 20 years after the Tedrel Wars. The Queen was about 16 when they start and about 19 when they end and in a year marries and then has a child. By the time Talia's first story happens Skiff is a 3rd year and the child is maybe 11 (although she acts about 5)as she is supposed to be only a little younger than the 13 year old Talia. The most I can make Talia's first stor ...more
Kimberly Hutchison
Mar 24, 2015 Kimberly Hutchison rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable, though somewhat watered down, look into one of the most built up characters from the original arrows of the queen series of Valdemar.

First the good, Mercedes Lackey is an excellent storyteller and writer. Once I pick one of her books up I rarely want to put it down. This one did not disappoint. Lackey spanned years and situations and I was thoroughly entertained.

The bad, the only reason I have this 4 stars was because the writing and storytelling were top notch. The sto
Travis Simmons
Sep 21, 2013 Travis Simmons rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
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
May 30, 2009 Annette rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Jul 03, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, beach-read
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
Dec 25, 2009 Pamela rated it liked it
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
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 28, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it liked it
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
***Dave Hill
Aug 15, 2013 ***Dave Hill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: text
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
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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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 &am ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...

Other Books in the Series

Valdemar (Publication order) (1 - 10 of 42 books)
  • Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1)
  • Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar, #2)
  • Arrow's Fall (Heralds of Valdemar, #3)
  • The Oathbound (Valdemar: Vows and Honor, #1)
  • Oathbreakers (Valdemar: Vows and Honor, #2)
  • Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #1)
  • Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #2)
  • Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #3)
  • By the Sword (Valdemar)
  • Winds of Fate (Valdemar: Mage Winds #1)

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