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Take a Thief

(Valdemar (Chronological) #25)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  12,934 ratings  ·  214 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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Magic's Pawn by Mercedes LackeyArrows of the Queen by Mercedes LackeyMagic's Price by Mercedes LackeyMagic's Promise by Mercedes LackeyTake a Thief by Mercedes Lackey
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111 books — 83 voters
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  12,934 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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Re-read 2019
I'm a huge fan of Skif, and his life prior to becoming a herald. He was my second favorite character in the Arrows of the Queen trilogy and I was thrilled when he got his own book.

My absolute favorite book in the series, I just love Skif. I think this is going to be a book I re-read every year.

Re-read 2017 Skif is still one of my favorite characters in Valdemar.

Re-read 2018 Not feeling well and decided to pick up a favorite.
Para (wanderer)
Unfortunately, I found myself in a reading slump again and not up to reading anything difficult or heavy. Then Valdemar got mentioned and it seemed perfect. I have read about seven or eight books as a teenager (the Arrows trilogy, The Last Herald Mage, some of Vows and Honor) and am slowly rereading them. This, however, was a first time read. I wasn't very worried whether it would hold up - most of what I reread did just fine, I knew what to expect, and Take a Thief has a pretty decent reputatio ...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
Mar 16, 2010 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
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 20, 2017 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
Olga Godim
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
A charming book. It is a re-read, of course, and it reminded me why I liked this writer in the first place. I’m going to re-read her earlier Valdemar books. I think I will enjoy them as I enjoyed this one.
Jul 29, 2012 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
Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku
Returning to the original Skif character is exactly what I needed. He was one of the my favorite characters in The Heralds of Valdemar. It's comforting to return to Skif and Haven, almost like returning home.

This is the first time I've read a fantasy novel that truly explores what the lower classes experienced in a medieval setting. I found it both refreshing and horrifying to read about. Take a Thief, as it's from the perspective of a young boy who has known no other life, unabashedly describe
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book has been sitting unread on my shelf pretty much since it was published. I recently reread Arrows of the Queen and still loved it, what better opportunity to continue the series with Take A Thief. I got the audiobook, read by Paul Woodson.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the book. Firstly, the narrator got on my nerves. I disliked the accent he gave Cymry and his pronounciation of the name “Alberich” was like nails in my ears (he pronounced it at the end like “rich” as in prosperous. The
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, fantasy, 2000s
Standalone novel which follows the adventures of Skif from the 'Arrows' trilogy. Standard Valdemar fare, but here the added length contributes to a more in depth and enjoyable read.

This would actually be a fairly good book to start with if you haven't previously read any of Lackey's novels. I still feel that I should really be a 16yr old girl when reading these, but they are the ultimate comfort read, so...
Nov 05, 2014 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
Rachel Burke
Good story, but so frustrating.

I wanted to give this 5 (or even 4) stars. But I just couldn't. I love Valdemar. Skif is a great character. But this book? It's so hard to read. The dialect in headfirst half is nearly impossible to translate. So much so that after dialogue there is generally a paragraph where the character translates what was said in his head. After about a chapter I just started skipping the dialogue altogether and hoping the summary would be good enough. Half way through when C
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
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
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-recommend
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
Ria Bridges
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a great book!

This has to be Mercedes Lackey at her best, and I couldn't put the book down, until the very last page.

She has such a great ability to draw the reader in, grab them, running, and then go on a non-stop race with them - to the point that you become almost breathless, until the very last word is read.

Yes, I know that these books aren't world-changing, but they do give the reader that sense of being within the very lives of the characters she writes about and, when I get to the poi
C. Gold
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I read this once, long ago, and decided to read it again. I really love the character, Skif, the thief. He's resourceful and intelligent and acted in a believable manner. He was small and young, so he did what he could to avoid notice. He was able to infiltrate busy places and sneak food. And I liked the positive people in his life. Seeing Alberich again was fun too. I might have to reread his books too!

It wasn't a perfect score for me because I feel like his life before becoming a Herald was a
Anne Jindra
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Skif was a scrappy little Valdemeran dude, hangin out in the slums and pinching good food from the tables of the rich when karma hit him. He ran into another thief, better dressed, better at the job, and -being bright- made a friend.

He quickly found out why true thieves were few and far between. It was easy enough to pick something up, but picking something out was another skill entirely, skill set in fact. Stealth, agility, subterfuge, acting. Even math, for the fencing. His days were full of i
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the first of the Valdemar books I've read, though clearly not the first in the series. Yet Lackey does an excellent job of pulling you into her world, even if you've never stepped foot into it before. Her setting is simultaneously fantastical and relatable. She introduces a cast of well-rounded characters with unpolished lives in a world that is unapologetically imperfect.

There were only a few things that I wasn't keen on. One was Alberich's dialect. Although I get that the author was t
Melanie Page
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was sure there would be drama around Skif entering the Collegium to train to be a Herald. Previous protagonists have been tormented, thrown in freezing rivers, nearly trampled to death, and more. But Take a Thief is the first book in which Lackey shows us that when a person is Chosen, it’s not because he/she is so very good and big of heart, but because the new person fits the needs of the kingdom at that time. Sort of like Darwin’s “survival of the fittest,” Heralds continue to be Chosen base ...more
Courtney Lillard
This was the first Lackey book I read back in middle school, so I am biased because it was my introduction to the Valdemar series. Skif's character is fun to follow as he journeys from a tavern worker, to an apprentice thief, to a rogue, and finally is chosen. The second half of the book explores his experience of becoming a herald with his skills and reputation as a thief. His morals are questioned up until the end, and his character development with his companion really emphasizes the bond bet ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
YMMV, but I didn't really enjoy this very much. The build up was incredibly slow, and hard to read due to the way the characters' accents were written out. I personally would have enjoyed seeing more of the main character's training after being Chosen than so much time devoted to his training as a thief, but that is a matter of personal preference. Aside from struggling to parse together what people were saying with the speech written out in accent, it was a fairly quick read, and I suspect that ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And so they found the best of them.

This tale had all the elements which I enjoy. Laughs, chuckles and side eyes register through the lighter parts. Touching points of clarity or emotion are there also. The plot wings from point to point of the growth of Skif as if guided by an eagle's eye. And even the character building is spot on.
Even though I truly enjoyed this tale, I give this book 4.5 stars as I found a possible continuity error. But it may have been related to one of the anthology tales
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
About 3/4 of the way through the book the plot took a turn and began to lose speed and interest due to the writer taking a very large 180 in the direction of the story that was unprecedented and seemed to be a bit of a non sequitur. There was no buildup to this change, and from there the pace and energy of the story progressively dropped as all sense of tension in the novel dissipated.
Mo D
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book with a nice insight into Skif's life before he meets Talia (Arrow's Trilogy) as a Trainee. Gives excellent perspective into the rough side of life in Haven and the types of character perspectives formed by growing up poor. Good to read on it's own or as it ties into the Arrow's trilogy. ...more
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
This is probably one of the best books I read from Mercedes Lackey (And I read quite a bit now). If you enjoy heist novel, you will definitely enjoy this one. It reminded me a bit of the first book of the Nightrunner series (although it was published waaaaay after Take a Thief). fulle review : ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book as a bit of a prequel to the first three books about Valdemar, when suddenly I realized I recognized the book! I read this many years ago soon after it first came out and it has remained a favorite. I was really happy to connect the memory to the title! This is my idea of the perfect book about a thief.
I can see why Skif is such a popular character! This was a great introduction to him as a character, and I liked visiting again with Alberich. The mystery and action here is great, even if the eventual 'reveal' is a twist that comes out of left field. This was a very enjoyable book, much better than its predecessor, Exile's Valor. ...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 & M ...more

Other books in the series

Valdemar (Chronological) (1 - 10 of 38 books)
  • The Black Gryphon (Mage Wars #1)
  • The White Gryphon (Mage Wars, #2)
  • The Silver Gryphon (Mage Wars, #3)
  • Beyond (The Founding of Valdemar Book 1)
  • Magic's Pawn (The Last Herald-Mage #1)
  • Magic's Promise (The Last Herald-Mage #2)
  • Magic's Price (The Last Herald-Mage #3)
  • Foundation (Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles, #1)
  • Intrigues (Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles, #2)
  • Changes (Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles, #3)

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