“Citizens of Leratia be warned,” it read. “MAGIC IS RUNNING OUT! We are fast speeding towards a FUTURE without sorcery. Without HEALERS. Without a DEFENCE AGAINST INVADERS. Without MACHINES. The Society of Magical Preservation invites you to learn of this IMPENDING PERIL, and how it might be AVOIDED.”
I was skeptical and read tentatively at the beginning of Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan. I didn’t think I would like it all. It jumped in too fast for my liking. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the characters, and the dialogue may have caused me to wince a time or two. I said to myself, if it doesn’t get better by 25% then I’ll move on.
Once I settled in though, the book became better and better.
Thief’s Magic is more of two books in one, swapping back and forth between the stories of Tyen and Rielle. Tyen is an archeology student and sorcerer in training at the Academy in a steampunk-esque world. Leratia runs on machines powered by magic, which is unexplainably depleting. Tyen finds a magical book of immense power, which may have the knowledge to save his world. However, his discovery of the book puts him in danger, and he quickly becomes a fugitive. Rielle, on the other hand, comes from Fyre, a world rich in magic that seems to be comparable to the Middle East. Magic is only wielded by priests, and those who learn magic outside of the priests is tainted and shameful. Rielle can seem the remnants of magic and therefore has the ability to learn it herself, but dares not at it is strictly forbidden and she has better things to do, like please her parents by finding a suitable match.
These worlds were fascinating and rich in detail. Both are similar in that females are largely oppressed. The book barely passes the Bechdel test, which would usually bother me, but it was clearly intentional. Other than the death of feminism, Leratia and Fyre are unalike. I would consider this book to be high fantasy and nicely fleshed out but without being a million pages long. Canavan creates clear societies, cultures, rules, and mythologies for each of these places. It was the best world building I’ve read recently, and I enjoyed how the settings informed the characters’ choices. I also found the corresponding magic systems to be unique.
The writing also evened out and moved at a nice clip after the first couple of chapters.
Tyen and Rielle have separate story arcs that do not seem to connect at all. Both go under major character arcs however. There is one glaring similarity in their journeys however. Both eventually question the integrity of the powers that be (for Tyen that’s the Academy, and for Rielle, the priests) leading them to become more self-assured and make individualistic choices. This change in character largely propels both of their stories forward.
I only have one issue with the book now that I’ve finished it but it contains a spoiler so read at your own risk. Because Tyen and Rielle’s stories never end up intersecting, the book feels more like a prequel than the first book in a series. The ending is not tidy, but not exactly propelling for a sequel. I think a stronger ending would’ve been for them to finally cross paths. If the authoress was going to leave a cliffhanger, then why not end on a higher note?
All in all though, this was a strong and fascinating start, and I will definitely read the next book. If you enjoy fantasy and reading, then give this a try. This book will be released next week on May 20th.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Tootle loo, darlings!