Thieftaker starts in 1765, eight years before the Boston Tea Party and eleven years before the Revolutionary War. Civil unrest is stirring, growing frThieftaker 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 former life as a sailor, but has aided him in his current profession as a thieftaker.
During one of the late-night riots against the crown that are starting to plague the city, a wealthy businessman’s daughter is found dead in the streets without a mark on her, and a brooch is taken from her possession. While “witchcraft” is frowned on, Abner Berson, the businessman, is well aware that his daughter’s death is probably magical in nature and requires Ethan’s talents to find his daughter’s missing brooch and her murderer.
Finding the culprit proves to be quite the challenge as Ethan realizes he’s up against a conjurer of immense talent paired with the fact that a powerful rival thieftaker named Sephira Pryce has it out for him.
Could one book hold any more things that I love than this one? It’s a historical fiction, but wait, it’s also an urban fantasy set in historical Boston. Why don’t we just throw in a little alternate history to sweeten the pot?
As a history nerd, I liked that the story is set around factual historical events. Ethan may not be real, but his profession is seeded in historical fact. Jackson uses the events leading up to the Revolutionary War as the backdrop for his story, so there are cameos by people such Samuel Adams and James Otis, Jr.
Ethan’s case itself is tied heavily to the politics plaguing the city. Even though he tries not to get mired into politics himself, he’s finding it hard to avoid as his investigation seems to move deeper and deeper into politics. One thing I really enjoyed about the political aspects of this story of this story is that Ethan’s opinion of the historical events around him are very gray.
The history isn’t painted with a patriotic slant, if that makes sense. Ethan considers himself a servant of the crown, but he does understand the plight of the people in the colonies. The activities of Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty aren’t assumed to be correct and aren’t written to make a heart bleed red, white, and blue with all the patriotism. Instead it focuses more on the everyday man’s outlook and how it does or doesn’t affect his life.
Jackson also does a commendable job with combining the magic and history. He’s managed to make the magic feel believable without falling prey to some of the pitfalls of other stories that have taken a similar approach. It doesn’t feel forced or trite in contrast to its setting, which can often happens when trying to base a magical story around actual historical fact. Usually, I find with books like this that the magic feels out of place in the story, but that wasn’t a problem here.
This book features a colorful cast of characters, and I really liked Ethan whose trying to do the best he can after living a very hard life prior to returning to Boston. One thing that I’m often guilty of is giving male characters in an urban fantasy setting the “Harry Dresden” test and making unjust comparisons. I think part of this reason is because so many male urban fantasy leads have similar qualities that make it so easy to compare and contrast (and this is true of many female urban fantasy characters, too). I didn’t do this so much with Ethan because after a while he felt like a different breed of male protagonist. His experiences, his views on his own magic, really made his character feel a bit distinct. Jonathan Davis, who recently made it to my favorite narrators list, did a wonderful job of bringing Ethan to life with his narration, so that might’ve helped my view.
Some of the other supporting characters felt a little flimsy and really only served one purpose to the story, but they were mostly likable, just not the type of characters who’d stick with you with a few exceptions. While I’m on supporting characters, I should get a complaint out the way. Sephira’s role in the story started getting on my nerves a little after a while. Sephira is definitely a character that you love to hate, but her motivations after a while just felt a little weak. I think she’s a great antagonist and rival to Ethan, but her involvement in his investigation after a while just made me raise my eyebrow even after her explanation.
As ubiquitous as her presence and influence is in this story, it felt like she was a little too involved with the matter and her impact started to kind of diminish when she kept showing up to try to dominate Ethan’s life or whatever. Her motivations seemed rather flaky and conflicting. However, I am interested to see how she further complicates Ethan’s adventures, and that really is a minor complaint for an otherwise engaging story.
In short, I thought this was an excellent historical urban fantasy that managed to meld the magic and history in a way that felt realistic. The magic isn’t so fantastic and in-your-face that it doesn’t mesh weld with the gritty world its set. Ethan is a wonderfully interesting character whose flaws run a bit deeper than a self-deprecating self-view hidden behind quirky humor. I’ll definitely be reading the next book soon. ...more
This story follows military medicus (doctor) Gaius Petreius Ruso who is a Roman man living in Brittania (England). HeCrossposted at The BiblioSanctum.
This story follows military medicus (doctor) Gaius Petreius Ruso who is a Roman man living in Brittania (England). He's escaped to the Brittania to heal from a disaster of a marriage that ended in divorce and the death of his father that left the family with many undue debts to pay. Brittania is considered a backwater town but important nonetheless. It's too small to be considered grand, but too large to be ignored by the Romans. As if going from everything to having nothing wasn't bad enough, women continue to bring trouble for Ruso after he examines a dead woman found in the river and rescues a slave from her callous owner.
This story takes place during a time when modern medicine was just beginning to emerge. Doctors were regarded as suspicious conmen and "healers" still ruled surpreme. I loved how Downie weaved that into the story, showing how doctors began to record treatment and discover new ways to deal with various medical ailments and conditions. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Ruso ushered around the new doctors in training and reveled in their naïveté after one fainted (and the others just barely made it out) when Ruso showed them a particular gruesome case. The description made me chuckle because it was just so Ruso-like.
Ruso is a bit cynical and serious, but he does have a little bit of a dry comedic side. He's very sure of his abilities as a medicus almost to the point of cockiness, but unlike his friend and fellow medicus, Valens, he keeps to himself in a world where knowing the right people means everything. He often feels awkward in social situations and almost always says the wrong things in his mind, so he tends to keep to himself. His bedside manners are cool because he's a man of logic, even by his own admission, but Ruso cares more about people more than he shows. This care extends beyond mere medical interest, but he's not sure how to "fix" people beyond what physically ails them.
Ruso complains that he shouldn't get involved in certain matters, but still he finds that his underlying compassion and concern causes him to do the exact opposite, which is how he ends up "investigating" a murder that he insists he's not investigating. He's also terrible at being a hard ass as shown when he became Tilla's "master." Tilla is just one of a group of ragtag friends he picks up during the course of the story which includes the charming Valens who thinks that Ruso needs a new wife, an overenthusiastic scribe named Albanus, and a dog he claims not to care for. He complains about them, of course, but I don't think he'd know what to do without them.
Despite all the elements that could make this a complicated story to listen to, it was very easy to follow. Nothing really went beyond my grasp or caused me to pause and rewind just to make sure I was understanding what I'd heard. Downie didn't use language that was too complicated, and the things that seemed a little unfamiliar she was able to explain in the simplest terms, even when it didn't really seem necessary. However, this was a surprisingly light listen. I was afraid that I would get partway in and decide that I need to read the book rather than listen to the audiobook.
One of the chief complaints I'd heard about this book was that the language was "too modern," but that's the usual complaint of many historical fiction settings ranging from books to television. I wasn't surprised to hear the complaint, but it just seems like old news now since many shows and books take this approach. I think that's because it makes it easier on the reader and the writer. How many people would really be interested in reading this if written in the style of that time? What writer would stick to writing a story in such a style? It would be tedious for both the reader and the writer. I agree that maybe some word choices absolutely were too modern, but that's such a nitpicky thing. However, I can only say that it doesn't bother me. Your mileage may vary.
My chief complaint is that, while I liked Ruso, he could be a bit annoying at times. I'd get mad at him for how he tried to treat Tilla, calling her property and trying to force her to call him master, even though he was terrible at being bossy--at least to Tilla. He does show a surprising amount of sexism that can be a bit annoying, too. Not because it's sexism, however. This is ancient Rome era we're talking about. It's annoying because it's obvious that he's not as sexist as most, but has defaulted to sexism because of his general disillusionment due to a bad marriage, which is understandable but so frustrating. Some of his actions were so obtuse to the point that I had to wonder if Ruso was okay mentally at times. An example being how he wanted the rumors about him investigating the murder to stop since he "wasn't investigating," but he made it his business to ask every person around if they'd heard he was investigating the murders. Really, Ruso?
As far as the narration goes, Simon Vance is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. He has a voice that is perfect for reading. This will be the third book I've listened to with him as the narrator and he never fails to impress me with his read. He's remarkable; his narration is always so impeccable. I have never encountered a narrator with such clean narration skills. Also, he understands that timbre not pitch determines how realistically a female voice will come across when reading, and even when faced with multiple female speakers in one scene, he gives them all their own personality that makes them easily discernible one from another.
The only real complaint I have is that he's a fast talker. I tend to speed up my audiobooks between 1.25 to 2.0 times faster than normal. With him, I have to get used to the pace he's keeping before I can speed it up, but that's really a trivial complaint when compared to how extraordinary he is as a narrator.
This was a great opening for the series, and I look forward to following more of Ruso's misadventures as narrated by Simon Vance....more
Harlequin (Historical) romance. When Daniel McClain (Luke's younger brother) decides they need a woman's touch around the house, Daniel and Luke pullHarlequin (Historical) romance. When Daniel McClain (Luke's younger brother) decides they need a woman's touch around the house, Daniel and Luke pull straws to see who's going to get a bride. Luke pulled the short straw. Then, Luke starts the search for the "perfect" bride by attending church. There he meets Eleanor who isn't a beauty, by her own perception of course, but she's just what Luke is looking for.
Eleanor is living with aunt, uncle, and her snooty, beautiful cousin, and she's more than glad to get out the house when Luke comes a'calling. Think Cinderella. When she finds out that she's a short-straw bride, well, things aren't too pretty after that.
I rarely read these type of romance books these days. That's a phase that I've moved beyond in my life. I didn't even know this was a Harlequin book until I was looking up the ASIN at Amazon.com. It doesn't read like your typical Harlequin book, and my edition has no indication on the cover that it is a Harlequin romance.
This wasn't a bad book. Like most romance that's written these days, there wasn't a lot of substance to it, but it was sweet and very cute. It's something to read on a boring day or if you're looking for something that's not too "deep"....more
Very much enjoyed this book. Atwood knows how to weave a tale. You'd almost believe this is really how Grace's story unfolded. Only problem for me isVery much enjoyed this book. Atwood knows how to weave a tale. You'd almost believe this is really how Grace's story unfolded. Only problem for me is the ending. I kind of figured Atwood was writing herself into a corner. How was she supposed to explain Grace's involvement or non-involvement? Excellent read all the same, though....more