Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen

Ancient Rome was an incredible place; but not if you were a slave as is the case with Nic. He works in mines ceaselessly and has never even taken a bath, Luck is when preparation meets opportunity though and when Nic is ordered by his cruel boss Sal to go into an underground chamber, his life changes suddenly and completely. In an underground cavern he meets two things that are going to forever be a part of his life- a griffin which he names Caela and a bulla that belonged to Julius Caesar.
Through a combination of bravery and naivete Nic ends up with a mark on his body that gives him magic powers. He is not an instant superhero however and his efforts are bumbling to put it mildly. He is motivated to free himself and his sister from slavery and seeks to do so with a laserlike focus, Nic is not alone however. As he tries to find his sister he meets two other people who befriend him. He and Aurelia don't hit it off immediately but gradually they grow on each other.

As you would imagine mythology and ancient history are integral parts of the story. One can hope that younger readers who may not have read these tales from antiquity would be inspired to do so after reading this book.

Not only does Nielsen paint a realistic picture of Rome at the time but she also conveys the instability that was a feature of life in the empire. Plots and counter plots galore are revealed throughout the story and it ends with one final stunning revelation that is a cliffhanger and a door into more books in the series. Mark of the Thief was a good read and I recommend it for ages 10+

You can check out this and other reviews on my blog here.

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