Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Thief Lord” as Want to Read:
The Thief Lord
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Thief Lord

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  85,776 ratings  ·  3,992 reviews
Two orphaned children are on the run, hiding among the crumbling canals and misty alleyways of the city of Venice.

Befriended by a gang of street children and their mysterious leader, the Thief Lord, they shelter in an old, disused cinema. On their trail is a bungling detective, obsessed with disguises and the health of his pet tortoises. But a greater threat to the boys' n
Paperback, 350 pages
Published July 17th 2002 by Chicken House (first published January 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Thief Lord, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Aisha Not everyone has the same opinion. For me, I didn't like how the magic system popped up out of nowhere in the middle of the book, neither how everyone…moreNot everyone has the same opinion. For me, I didn't like how the magic system popped up out of nowhere in the middle of the book, neither how everyone acted like its normal. The ending was disappointing and the adults didn't act like how adults would normally behave. In addition to the strands that were left dangling by the end of the story (like hornets past).(less)
Michael Rhode I just gave it three stars as that's my average rating for a book I enjoy, but wouldn't go out of my way to reread or recommend.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Lightning Thief by Rick RiordanTwilight by Stephenie MeyerThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Best Young Adult Books
11,463 books — 79,549 voters
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott LynchThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. TolkienThe Thief by Megan Whalen TurnerArtemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
644 books — 1,290 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  85,776 ratings  ·  3,992 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Thief Lord
✨    jamieson   ✨

I love the characters, the world, the story. Scipio was like one of my first book crushes lmao. Seriously, this book is so exciting and fun and has such a great cast of characters who all have such genuine, important friendships and it's magical and beautiful could not recommend it highly enough.

It's like Six of Crows except they live in a movie theatre and they are all like 12

KINDA wanna reread it again now its just the BEST
Twelve-year-old Prosper and his little brother, Bo (short for Boniface), live with their friends in an abandoned movie theater deep in Venice. The brothers are fleeing from an uncaring aunt who would keep Bo at her side like a lapdog and send Prosper to a faraway boarding school. Their roommates—Hornet, Mosca, and Riccio,—are homeless kids with nowhere else to go. They survive by stealing food and picking pockets.

The leader of their little group is named Scipio. His living quarters are unknown.
Jonathan Terrington

I've read more books than I remember. From the classy literature books (the classics) to the crummy excuses of children's novels thrown into the public libraries to con young readers into believing that they possess quality my reading has been deep and varied. Yet there are some novels I read as a child that impacted me enough to cause me to read them over again. The Thief Lord is one of those books.

What is The Thief Lord? It is a fantasy tale and an adventure story combined and set in modern Ve
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Herr der Diebe = The Thief Lord, Cornelia Funke
The Thief Lord is a children's novel written by Cornelia Funke. It was published in Germany in 2000 and translated into English by Oliver Latsch in 2002 for The Chicken House, a division of Scholastic publishing company. It was also adapted into a film in 2006.
The Thief Lord follows the story of brothers, Prosper and Boniface (Bo), who run away to Venice, Italy. They are taken in by a group of street children who live in an abandoned movie theater -
Set in contemporary Venice (around the time of both answering machines and cell phones), this is not exactly what I expected, which was a historical fantasy with lighthearted, adventurous thieving in it. What I got was a more realistic tale of runaways and orphans trying to make it in a contemporary city. Still, bonus points for Venice!

There was a little bit of thieving, but it was more desperate, the group of kids scraping by while living in an abandoned movie theater. It was sad, but heartwarm
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Venice lovers
It's a great fantasy: Let's run away to Venice, and hide out in an old movie theater. We can dye our hair blonde, so no one will ever find us!
In a way, this is a European version of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, with siblings running away to a place stuffed with antiquities, and getting mixed up in an art mystery. I guess Victor the detective must have the Mrs. Frankweiler role.
I didn't expect the touch of fantasy at the end. I'd love to read a sequel to find out what ha
Aug 19, 2007 added it
Shelves: tutoring
Book of the Year Awards... Really? Is it unsympathetic of me to think that this book is... childish? How reductive should authors of children's lit be?

I've been working with a young student this summer, and The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke, is a big favorite on the sixth grade circuit. This particular boy had chosen it for summer reading, and so I picked up a copy for myself.


Billed as a "fantastical journey" through "the magical underworld of Venice, Italy", The Thief Lord follows a pair of
K. Elizabeth
2 / 5

It breaks my heart to say this, but this is my first skimmed/dnf book of 2018. I was really hoping I wouldn’t have any this year … oh well. I have to stick to my philosophy that “life is too short to push yourself to read books you’re not into.” I think most people can agree with that. So many books, so little time, you know?

Really, I don’t have much to say. The Thief Lord started off promising (I really enjoyed Chapter One with Victor and his internal bluntness)—however, the other ch
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
Decent children's literature, set in Venice, mixing adventure, social issues and fantasy. The overarching theme is the question of childhood versus adulthood, and the inherent difficulties of both!
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I remember reading this in my teens and enjoying it quite a bit. I just realized, today, the author wrote Inkheart as well.
kwesi 章英狮
This book did not work well to me, Cornelia Funke gave me another headache after reading her Inkheart series which I thought will be one of my favorites since the movie was great. I did like the movie very much and I dug a hole 6 feet under for the whole series not be seen by my eyes again. Well, I think I broke one of the important rules of reading and watching book-tie-in stuff. I did watch the movie before the book so that made things worst but I was hoping not.

The last time I remember readin
By the time I hit chapter 45 out of 52, my interest in the plot started fizzling out.

The characters are well-drawn, but there’s not much development or growth shown over the course of the story. The plot takes place within a modern setting, but a fantastical element is thrown in kind of randomly. It feels out of place and there’s a lot of exposition surrounding it. The setting is great, with some nice details thrown into the action and descriptions. But generally the writing isn’t particularly s
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-kiddos, audio
This was a cute read.
Kind of a mix between Peter Pan/Robin Hood/Oliver Twist. I thought the magical aspect would run heavier in the story than it did.
I enjoyed running around on the streets of Venice with these kids, seeing it through their eyes.
Dec 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who are child-at-heart
Recommended to Sandee by: Apokripos
Venice would be one of the places I'd visit before I die.
The story of The Thief Lord weaved wonderfully with the gorgeous city of Venice.
If this story had been in a different location it might not have been as appealing.
I love it when a book takes me to places I have never been before.
I rarely travel so that factor is very important to me.
This book did just that.
It took me straight to Venice.
Not only did it take me to Venice, I felt like I was right in the midst of the story.
Like I was one of th
Deborah O'Carroll
Peter Pan meets Six of Crows (a younger version) meets The Boxcar Children in modern-day Venice with a slight twist of fantasy near the end, in this gripping adventure tale of two brothers and their unexpected friends... especially a mysterious boy named Scipio. I adored how Prosper looked after Bo--it made me happy. (Also, pet tortoises! Poor Victor. XD)

Solid 4 stars throughout, might have made it to 5 stars if it had ended how I wanted... As it is, it's being kept from a disappointed-2-stars c
May 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In 2019, I vowed to reread more of my childhood books. I find it interesting to look back and reflect on the stories that impacted my life 10, heck even 15, years ago. Many of these reads turn out to be very nostalgic as I remember more and more as the story moves along. Sometimes I even discover a bookmark or a note of others sorts in the book and am reminded of how different of a reader I used to be.

Unfortunately, my reread of Herr der Diebe (The Thief Lord) by my favourite childhood author C
Oct 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
I really wanted to love this book. I have been to Venice multiple times and I loved the "boxcar children" feel to the story. However, the ending really killed it for me. The thief lord was not a thief at all, but a bored rich kid who just brought crap from his house. To make matters worse, the bored lonely rich kid wanted to be an adult, so he jumped on a magical carousel and became a man. Like what the heck? This could have been a favorite of mine but the ending sucked. Do not bother reading it ...more
Clarissa Amabel
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-book
What a wonderful story!

My favorite character, aside from the kids, is Venice herself. Cornelia Funke has weaved her story so brilliantly in a gorgeous setting, describing the city as if it had its own personality. I think the story wouldn't be as awesome if it were set somewhere else. The mystery that is Venice, the beauty that is Venice... it took my breath away more than once. I also adore the simple illustrations that began each chapter, allowing us a glimpse of the wonderful world these kids
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I kept fluctuating between 3 and four stars. Ultimately I'd probably opt for 3 and 1/2, but since that's not an option, I'll go with four because I think it's more of a personal taste thing over the quality of the book.

I'm a huge fan of "Inkheart" so had high hopes for this novel. I quickly realized the two have very different styles, and rightfully so, as this book is (at least I assume) geared for a younger audience.

The cast of characters is delightful, each with their own stories and personal
Jan 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: four-stars
I read The Thief Lord two years back when I was in Venice for skiing holiday. The book is excellent, and combined with the right surroundings I was smitten.

Venice in the winter is misty and dreamy, and when we walked around the city, I could almost see the Thief Lord running around with his friends, cunningly planning their theft, getting more and more mixed up in the plots of grown-ups around them. Funke's storytelling is wonderful, her characters believable, and, for a children's book, The Th
demetriaa h.
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is so good, what a wonderful mix of reality and fantasy! I enjoyed it a lot, even though adventure is not my favourite genre. My favourite character is Scipio, let's applaud him for how much he has changed :)
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
still such a brilliant book reading as an adult.
I love the imagination and beauty of this book
I hope Cornelia continues writing beautiful stories like this.
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I was told to start with this book, but began with Inkheart instead. Inkheart is entirely of a different variety, totally magical, but this one is destined to be the classic. Set in the streets of Venice, this book has it all: Italian culture, street savvy kids, the Robin Hood-like notion of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, all the while echoing a sort of Les Miserables-like Griviche type thing.
Everybody loves a gang of orphans! These orphans live in a run down movie theater and rule
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book helped me to escape from myself.

2016 and 2017 were tough years for me. I was always generally healthy, which didn't serve me well when my body and mind seemed to break apart gradually but ever so steadily. I didn't know how to take care of myself. And when I finally managed to learn, I became obsessed. It became a different kind of unhealthy. I needed to let my mind run far elsewhere, but fear kept drawing me back.. until I picked up The Thief Lord (and Harry Potter again <3)

This book
Shaikha Alahmad
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book as a kid. ❤
Taylor Natkin
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke, is a fantasy novel about a two orphaned kids. After being told Prosper, a boy around twelve years of age, and his younger brother, Bo, were going to be separated through adoption, they run away to Venice, Italy. Nearing winter, Prosper believed he would have to turn themselves in to save his little brother, who was ill. Luckily, the boys were saved by a young girl, with the nickname Hornet. She brought them to her hideout, which held two more boys. Their leade ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked it, but somehow I expected more of it. More excitment, more secrets, more revealing of the same secrets...

I'd love to read more of Cornlia Funke's books, but I know my expectations are and will remain very high.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lol I remember enjoying this book a lot! Can't write my full thoughts on it, though, because I read it so long ago. I need to reread this. :)

Content Rating: PG
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Kids living all by themselves in Venice I think. [s] 7 258 May 04, 2020 05:24PM  
do you want to read this book? 7 28 Dec 06, 2017 03:30PM  
2020 Reading Chal...: 2015 Reading Challenge 2 34 Mar 23, 2015 10:31PM  
How great is it? 46 141 Dec 31, 2014 03:19AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Beyond the Valley of Thorns (The Land of Elyon, #2)
  • Ruby Holler
  • Castaways of the Flying Dutchman (Flying Dutchman, #1)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • The Landry News
  • Changes (The Dresden Files, #12)
  • Half-Moon Investigations
  • The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)
  • Abhorsen (Abhorsen, #3)
  • Once Upon a Curse
  • Watership Down (Watership Down, #1)
  • The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl #6)
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4)
  • Becoming Naomi León
  • Peter and the Starcatchers (Peter and the Starcatchers, #1)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)
  • Die Wilden Hühner und das Leben
  • Fairest
See similar books…
Cornelia Funke is a multiple award-winning German illustrator and storyteller, who writes fantasy for all ages of readers. Amongst her best known books is the Inkheart trilogy. Many of Cornelia's titles are published all over the world and translated into more than 30 languages. She has two children, two birds and a very old dog and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Related Articles

Want to encourage young readers to keep up their reading habits? Look no further than this year's buzziest YA and middle-grade graphic novels....
55 likes · 16 comments
“Children are caterpillars and adults are butterflies. No butterfly ever remembers what it felt like being a caterpillar.” 100 likes
“-You forgot something important!
-It's under my sweater!
More quotes…