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The Magic Thief: Lost

Review

The Magic Thief: Lost

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The first book in The Magic Thief fantasy trilogy ended with apprentice magician Connwaer losing his splendid locus magicalicus (or “magic stone”) during his battle to rescue the living magic that protects the city of Wellmet. This second installment in the series picks up where its predecessor left off, with Conn desperately seeking a new locus magicalicus to communicate with Wellmet’s magic. Unfortunately, no one believes Conn when he insists that the magic is a living being, and magical incantations are merely words spoken in the being’s own language.

Meanwhile, Wellmet is under attack by a band of mysterious and deadly Shadowmen whose very touch brings instant paralysis and death. Who has sent them? What do they seek? Conn thinks Wellmet’s magic may know the answers to these questions, but he needs a magicalicus to facilitate a conversation between himself and the magical being of the city.

When his attempts to find a magicalicus prove to be unsuccessful, Conn hits upon a new and perilous way to communicate with the city’s magic: pyrotechnics. However, the use of pyrotechnics within the city walls is strictly forbidden. Indeed, that was exactly what had gotten Conn’s master, the great wizard Nevery, temporarily banished from Wellmet more than 20 years before. Not only that, but a permanently gaping hole was left in the middle of Nevery’s island home, Heartsease.

After an acquaintance’s life is tragically claimed by the Shadowmen, Conn becomes increasingly desperate to learn who or what lies behind these deadly creatures. But Conn’s frenzy to communicate with the magic drives him to ever more reckless measures, putting in peril the lives of those he loves most and eventually causing him to be banished from Wellmet to the exotic and dangerous desert land of Desh. In this thrill-a-minute ride of a book, we learn how the ever-capable Conn manages to discover the secret of the Shadowmen and outmaneuver those who would bring destruction to Wellmet. But will he ever be able to come home again?

The continual ratcheting up of tension throughout LOST (whenever you think that young Conn is in the worst trouble of his life, he quickly lands in more!) makes the mood more serious here than in the first installment. Conn himself is much more tense and subdued, showing less of the impishness that characterized him in THE MAGIC THIEF. The overall tone --- featuring the death of a character and the near-death of another important one --- is fairly somber for a children’s book. However, the novel should be fine for the intended group (ages 10 and up). Although tinged with sadness and tension, there is nothing gory or gruesome here.

While the story itself is wonderful, the DVD-like extra features with which the book is jam-packed really make it a worthwhile purchase. LOST features stunning, pitch-perfect illustrations and cover art by Antonio Javier Caparo, inserts of letters from various characters, character guides to orient newcomers to the series, and even some recipes. There is something cozy and inviting to the feel of the book, and what is inside the covers lives up to any expectations one may have about it.

English professor and Tolkien expert Sarah Prineas has now given us two excellent adventures for kids and adults alike, grounded in the children’s fantasy tradition and peppered with interesting characters and heart-stopping action. Her use of language is inventive and interesting without being distracting.

Although the storyline features the adventures of a young orphan wizard, the story calls to mind Oliver Twist more than it does Harry Potter. In any case, I find the trilogy to be just as entertaining as J. K. Rowling’s series, and perhaps more tightly plotted. The Magic Thief has the makings of a new children’s fantasy classic.

Reviewed by Usha Reynolds on May 12, 2009

The Magic Thief: Lost
by

  • Publication Date: May 12, 2009
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0061375896
  • ISBN-13: 9780061375897