Boston, 1765: In D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.
Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed - and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can't stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see.
©2012 D. B. Jackson (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Let me start this review with the preface that I love Johnathan Davis and everything he narrates. That being said, I really wanted to like this book more than I ended up doing. It's a murder mystery (sort of) set in pre-revolution Boston, about a magician Ethan who works as a thief taker. As a murder mystery it's not exactly interesting, it tries to focus more on the magic side of things.
The book was too long and rather repetitive. It wasn't that it reiterated plot points again and again (like some mysteries), but the scenes seemed to repeat. It could easily have been pared down quite a bit. The character's motivations were a little vague, especially Sophira. There were times that it felt like things were happening just so that Ethan could get beaten up more. For a supposedly smart guy, Ethan takes a long time to figure out some seemingly basic plot points. There seems like lots of interesting back story that could be expanded upon in further books, but even on the strength of Johnathan Davis's narration (which is absolutely excellent as always), I'm not sure I'll be getting any of the rest of the series.
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
"Thieftaker" is not just a modern urban noir supernatural detective story dressed up in a period costume, it is driven by the events and the mindset of the period, which gives it a distinctive and intriguing flavour.
It is driven as much by character as by plot. Our hero is not an easy man but he is one you could learn to care about. The people who threaten or help him (sometimes the SAME people) have motives and emotions of their own that make them much more than plot devices.
The supernatural world is well thought through and skillfully revealed and the plot stands up as a detective/thriller story in it own right.
Jonathan Davis narrates the book with a steady voice that has exactly the right pitch and pace to get the most from this tale.
I've already ordered the next in the series and I have high hopes of it.
Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane.
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? 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. 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.
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. 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.
Ethan, of course. 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.
Usually, I find with books like this that the magic feels out of place in the story, but that wasn’t a problem here. Ethan is an interesting character whose flaws run a bit deeper than a self-deprecating self-view hidden behind quirky humor.
Currently a local truck driver who has hours to listen to my audio books. I am hooked, some of my fellow drivers enjoy them also
No once was enough good story but not timeless
Near the end when the final showdown with the other conjurer battle it out
First one alittle slow at first but a good story would like to hear next one
Good name, didn't know what it meant at first but it works with the book
yes, I liked it after it got going and look for the next one
I liked that the magic was limited not like D&D magic. They used the revolution as a really good background
The way magic is paid for at casting
I love books. hate reviewing books because I hate reiterating what many other's have said. I hate spoiling a review.
It doesn't. It is a severe departure from the audio I usually purchase. It is True Historical/Fantasy/alternate timeline/murder mystery/fantasy forensics. I am usually a stright-forward fantasy or urban fantasy reader. I have dabbled in True Historical Alternate Timeline or True Historical Murder Mystery before: Laura Joh Rowland and Ariana Franklin to name two. In paper. The exotic flavor comes from the highly detailed world they described and though the murder mystery is the reason for the narration, it is almost incidental to the rich fabric of the place and people and doings described. Theiftaker is all that and a little magic thrown in too.
The highly descriptive world tapestry.
His voice "fit" our beleaguered hero very well.
I wouldn't. The name fits perfectly.
I do enjoy the struggles he goes through, but he has a huge target on his back.
Thieftaker, being my first foray into a historically accurate setting with an urban fantasy twist, was a wonderfully unique read for me. The intermingling of actual historical figures and places experiencing first hand a spell casting thieftaker was very well done. I especially enjoyed D.B. Jackson's conduit for Ethan Kaille's power, uncle Reg. All the characters are brought to life very well through Mr. Jackson's writing, as well as portrayed well in voice by Johnathan Davis. All in all a very enjoyable story.
I was enjoying the book, though I was getting tired of supposedly-intelligent hero being so dense about so many things. Still, I was having fun until the logical consistency of the magic in the world was tossed out the door when Ethan had to "do something terrible." Up to that point using magic had a cost which had to be paid, but at that moment all he had to do was look at something living and get the power from it.
It was also around that time which the rest of the book felt like padding to get too the end while having to fill in a certain number of words, then we get to the bad spy movie cliché where the hero gets captured and the villain spills out the entire plan to him before failing because he underestimated the hero. But then who could blame him for underestimating Kaille?
I was drawn to this book by the basic premise but it turned out to not deliver. It had a poor plot, repetitive action and two dimensional characters. Nothing of interest is done with the historical figures who show up in minor rolls.
The author does a good job in describing the setting. Old Boston is brought to life in vivid smells and colours. The main character frustratingly overlooks some obvious clues as the book progresses but by the end of the book I had grown to enjoy the tale.
The narrator has to my ear a very slow delivery. It has the effect of making most of the narration sound like a dramatic conversation. I was going to give up on the book but then increased the play back speed to 1.25. At that speed most speech sounds normal with only some parts being out of place. For me this saved the Audible book and I am now enjoying the second book.
I'm looking forward to more books in this setting by D. B. Jackson. If you have trouble with the speed of narration I would suggest trying to increase the speed slightly. If you are fan of the Dresden series, as I am, this will not be more of the same but something different and still enjoyable.
"A Fantastic Historical Urban Fantasy!"
This is a fantastic historical urban fantasy. I loved it!
Ethan Kaille is an interesting character. He is a Thieftaker, a conjurer who uses his magic to track down thieves and the stolen items. I liked this eighteenth century gent. He has a very sharp mind, and is quite talented as a magical detective. He has a dark past, which gives him an air of mystery.
I saw a post on Facebook by someone I follow, who recommended this book, It piqued my interest, so I had a look at the blurb and decided to give it a try. I downloaded it as an audio book, so I could listen to it while doing housework, or just before going to bed.
The tale was narrated by Jonathan Davis, who brought the characters and story alive with his narration. I could listen to his voice for hours! In fact, I did! I became so involved in the story that I didn't realise how much time had gone by!
The story took me on a journey into eighteenth century Boston, where the people are beginning to protest at the British taxation of the colony. I am not a history buff, but I am interested in this period in America's early history. The author has woven a wonderful tale into this backdrop.
Although I haven't read any of the books, Ethan Kaille reminded me of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden (I've watched the TV series based on the books). Nevertheless, Ethan is his own character and has his own quirks. He uses elemental magic - earth, wind, water, air and fire - for his spells. He is hired to find a piece of jewellery stolen from a murdered woman. However, he finds himself being pulled into a deadly cat and mouse game with a formidable opponent. The story has several twists and turns, which kept me hooked from beginning to end. I found it interesting that one of Ethan's fellow thieftaker's was a woman; a rather ruthless one at that. However, she does not use magic to find her client's belongings. I had the picture of her in my mind's eye as a mob boss or a pirate, who intimidates and bullies her way into finding the items. Saphira is not a nice person, but I got the feeling that, although she was jealous of Ethan, she was attracted to him too. But, Ethan loves another.
I was a little disappointed at the way the author didn't make use of mixing different elements for stronger spells for his character/s. This, in my opinion, limited Ethan's ability to create more powerful spells in defense or attack. Simple maybe better, but there is one scene which could have had a bit more oomph to it if a few more elemental spells were mixed. But, this didn't stop me from enjoying the story. I reached the end of the book, and found myself looking forward to continuing the series by reading/listening to Thieves' Quarry as soon as possible.
D.B. Jackson has written a fantastic historical urban fantasy. I loved his writing style, which was fast paced and action packed. The story flowed wonderfully from beginning to end. I have never read any other books by this author, but I would definitely read more of his books in the future.
Although there are no explicit scenes, there is mention of scenes of a sensual nature. Therefore, I do not recommend this book for younger readers. However, I highly recommend this book if you love paranormal, urban fantasy, mystery, thriller or detective genres. - Lynn Worton
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