Review of DB Jackson’s "Thieftaker"

Amazon(Kindle/Print Copy)
Barnes & Nobles (Nook/Print Copy)

Complimentary Copy Recieved via Netgalley, With Permission from Tor Fantasy
    Boston, 1767: 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.


Oftentimes, I feel like I’ve developed a terrible discrimination towards fantasy books that are part of a series that spans upwards of ten books; each of these books are comprised of an overwhelming tally of 700 to 800 pages. Furthermore, each of these books contain characters with dense backgrounds filled with expository details that are very hard to retain. While I really loved the first two Wheel of Time  books, my interest for the series began to wane once I started recognizing signs of the  over-extension of the series’ plot. Much like with the ever-popular Song of Ice and Fire  booksthe reader will be forced to read through nearly 1000 pages of a book just to see marginal evolution of the plot. I don’t bother criticizing these series though too much because I really understand their appeal for many readers. For me, I harbor my own personal prejudices towards these series; I just happen to love books where I can become deeply vested in the lives of a handful of well-developed characters, rather than a nauseating myriad number of them scrambling for remembrance.

   Surprisingly, I really enjoyed DB Jackson’s Thieftaker because of its brisk pacing, concise plotting,and very well-structured characters. Additionally, the setting of Boston, during the early stages of the revolutionary war, provides a breathtaking sense of realism in the series, even though the stories involves magicians and other supernatural features. Much like one of my favorite series, Buffy the Vampire Series,the magic system and elements of the fantastic universe that DB Jackson constructs seamlessly imbue the historical setting with a rich aura of mystery. Furthermore, the action sequences are highly stylized and truly exciting. They reminded me of another favorite fantasy series of mine, the Shadow Son series by Jon Sprunk, which also contained highly cinematic action sequences that were not too overstimulating. Within some fantasy series, the battle sequences are too bombastic and overweeningly detailed to the extent where they sicken me or they just became paradoxically boring. It is quite possible to make action sequences boring ala Michael Bay and his overuse of uninspired CGI effects. Combined with an excessive tally of characters, along with these exceedingly detailed action sequences, it is no wonder that I often fear reading fantasy books. At the same time, the authors who are able to effectively win me over, like Ursula K.Le Guin,Jon Sprunk, Maria V. Snyder, and others do so in a very effective manner. b

   After reading Thieftaker, I realized that my prejudices towards fantasy books all due to certain verbose culprits are unwarranted. This book is the antithesis to my stigma about epic fantasy series, and I really cannot wait to continue reading. Far more than the fascinating historical detail of the story, the characters of Thieftaker themselves are intrinsically interesting and their mystery is slowly revealed throughout the course of the first novel, even the past life of the main character ,Ethan Kaille, still remains a mystery to  the reader at the end of the novel. This slow, but wholly effective development of each of these characters provides a certain element of suspense that keeps reading. Moreover, the delicate balance of historical details and action are carefully administered in the story to further help the reader invest interest in the story. All the elements that could have become easily overwrought and dull instead constantly reels the reader’s interest back into this very intriguing story.

  For any fantasy readers seeking out something less ponderous, and thrilling, yet substantive, I highly recommend this book. This is the type of fantasy book that will make remember how much fun reading can be. While I read this book, I found myself lounging outside with a really good beer. Its just that type of book with just the right combination of high-octane action, interesting characters, rich historical detail, and magic to make it the perfect summer read, or really a book that can be read anytime of the year (Summer Read is too limiting of a label.).

Links of Interest:
D.B Jackson’s Blog
D.B. Jackson’s Twitter
D.B. Jackson’s Facebook Page
D.B. Jackson’s Website
Interview with DB Jackson (Posted Earlier on my Blog)
Upcoming Book Signing in the Philly area  July 14 (Saturday) 4:00 pm — Signing at Between Books, Claymont, Delaware.

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