Mark of the Thief (Mark of the Thief #1)

 
3.7 (3)
 
0.0 (0)
1627 0
Mark of the Thief (Mark of the Thief #1)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
February 24, 2015
ISBN
9780545561549
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When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods -- magic some Romans would kill for. Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes. In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.

Editor reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.7  (3)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A  (0)
Powerful narrative and engaging plot
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Nic is a slave living around the mines outside of Rome. When he is ordered into a dangerous cavern that holds the treasures of Julius Caesar, he discovers a bulla, a god-powered amulet. Between the bulla and the mark the griffin hidden in the treasures gives him, Nic now has magic in him. Instead of getting his freedom, Nic is plunged into a world of conspiracy centering around the emperor and the Praetor War.

Jennifer A. Nielsen delivers another action packed story with MARK OF THE THIEF. Nic is a feisty protagonist full of drive and determination. His caution towards the magic inside him and the magic in the bulla is realistic and refreshing. Instead of magic being a way out of his problems, it becomes a primary cause of them. The narrative explores what it means to not have control over power, both magically and otherwise, and the importance of maintaining a balance. The magical battles are rich scenes ringing with emotion and consequences.

The plot is quick and engaging, with plenty of twists and surprises. Alliances are shaky, and there is never a promise of who is trustworthy. Nic has had to rely on himself for a long time, and he realizes that while it’s important to have allies, that might not be changing anytime soon. The big climax will have readers begging for the next book.

With excellent details of ancient Rome, a powerful narrative, and a magical plot, MARK OF THE THIEF is a must for fans of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s previous series.
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An exciting start to a promising new series.
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Working in the mines and obeying orders (at least the ones that aren't stupid), Nic has one goal - to free himself and his sister. When the men discover a mysterious cave one doesn't come out, and the other will never be the same again. Forced to enter the cave himself, Nic encounters a fearsome Griffin and an ancient Bulla (an amulet given to male children in Rome). Stealing both, he ends up on the run from a general who has darker plans for Rome and finds himself at the center of a plot to overthrow the emperor and a world of magic that he never dreamed existed. Now, Nic must fight for freedom, his sister, the empire and discover who can be trusted in a world of intrigue.

Nic is a very reminiscent of Sage from Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince trilogy. He is clever and witty. He is always willing to deliver a scathing retort - even when he probably shouldn't. I was a little disappointed that his inner monologue was not nearly as interesting as Sage's was, and I found myself skimming those parts to get to the action. Nic has a great frenemy in Aurelia. She is determined, single-minded, and great with weapons. Nic and she have a very love-hate relationship, but I don't really see this going the romantic route. More, they will continue to gain respect for one another and become strong allies. We only see a little of Livia, Nic's sister, and I am really excited to see what type of role she takes on in the next book.

I knew very little of Ancient Rome coming into this book and the author did an excellent job of describing the architecture, politics, and methods of entertainment. The magic of this world is really well incorporated into the Roman belief system. I was a particular fan of Nic's new found power to talk to animals. I can see this having fantastic implications as the series continues. I also loved that where most media concentrates on the gladiator fights that took place in the colloseum, this one features the animal fights. It was interesting to see a different side of these events.

The plot is fast paced and fun. There are very few moments of downtime as Nic attempts to escape the consequences of stealing the Bulla. For the first half, he spent a great deal of time simply reacting to the situations unfolding around him and I began to get frustrated with his inability to concoct a plan. As we reached the middle of the book he took on a more controlling role and started to meet challenges head on, rather than attempting to run from them. This developed his character further and allowed me to engage more with the plot.

Mark of the Thief is a fun and exciting start to a promising new series. Young readers will love Nic's adventure and the historic elements on which the plot is built.
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Magic in Ancient Rome
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Nic is a slave working in a mine near Rome circa 275 a.d. His father was killed by a lightning strike, his mother was sold off, and his sister, Livia, works around the mines and may have to marry the evil overseer Sal. When Nic is sent deep into the mine to try to retrieve a golden treasure rumored to be Julius Caesar's, he has a very strange experience. He manages to get a golden bulla, but is attacked and scratched by a griffin, who then helps him escape the mine before it collapses. He is recaptured, but hides the bulla from Radulf, a commander who really wants it, and is sold with the griffin to Felix, who manages the venation in Rome. Right before this, Nic had met the senator Valerius and his son Crispus, who tell Nic that the griffin has left a very dangerous mark on his back, and he must hide it, as well as the bulla. In Rome, the griffin is supposed to fight in the Colosseum, but Nic manifests significant magic and has to go on the run. He is helped by Artemis, a high born girl who was exposed at birth who is now living the life of a slave, helping Felix. She is instrumental in helping Nic survive several harrowing events, since Radulf is bound and determined to get him, as well as the bulla, back. There's lots of adventures, good details about life in Rome, and a lot of twists involving high levels of Roman government, which I don't want to give away!

There are never enough books about ancient Rome, since it is a topic that really interests middle grade readers. This book has plenty of action and intrigue, and I think this is supposed to be a trilogy. Readers who enjoyed Michael Ford's Spartan Warrior series or Scarrow's Gladiator will love this one.

The details of Romance life are fairly well done, and the addition of magic will appeal to many fantasy fans.
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