Book Review : Mark of the Thief
By Jennifer A. Nielsen
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.(Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I really enjoyed The False Prince that Nielsen wrote and so I thought I would try Mark of the Thief. The main character, Nic, is a smart aleck and wouldn’t live long as a slave. I didn’t find him to be as charming as Sage, but he grew on me more as the book progressed. Other characters include Caela, the griffin, who maintains her instinct driven qualities rather than human characteristics, Radulf, a general who is obsessed with power, Aurelia, with a mysterious past, as well as slavers, senators, killers and Livia, a kidnapped sister. One of the good things about the characters is that they are neither all good nor all bad, not even Radulf, though it would be too much of a stretch to call him compassionate. Aurelia has the biggest shift in personality as she figures out who she is and what she values. She was one of my favorite characters in this book.
Nielsen likes to ask questions and then writes to answer her musing inquiries. Mark of the Thief includes historical fact, magic and war. It promises to have a little romance in the future. Because of the belief in the gods by the Romans the magic works as a natural extension of their religion. I would like to see the magic more firmly rooted in their traditions. Currently the magic feels a little separate from the rest of the story, it doesn’t explain how someone out of favor with the gods would still have their magical gifts. Perhaps that magic is sponsored by another jealous god? I would like explanations to settle into the pantheon of the gods, maybe even have a couple more supernatural experiences with the gods. I also liked the situational ethics that different characters faced. It would be a good book for discussing ideas about how we treat others, though this is only a minor theme.
I was spoiled with The False Prince, but I believe Mark of the Thief will still be enjoyed by many tweens, though it wasn’t my personal favorite. It took a little longer for me to feel vested in the story. The fight with Caela was the moment when I wanted to keep reading.
3 out of 5 stars
- the Mother
If you liked this one you might like Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave by Brydie Walker Bain, Five Kingdoms by Brandon Mull and Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy.