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Review: ‘Take a Thief’ by Mercedes Lackey

November 9, 2010

The dark sides of Haven could be dangerous for a lonely young child.  Skif knew this world better than any other, having lived in the poor neighborhoods his entire life.  Under the thumb of his uncle Londer and cousin Kalchan, Skif was well acquainted with the feelings of hunger, cold, and poverty.  So when he found a chance to escape that life, he took it–and joined a gang of thieves.

For many months Skif learned the thieving trade: picking pockets, walking roofs and home invasion, trickery and lies.  But it was the best life he could ever think of.  For the first time, he was not hungry, or cold, or afraid.  And he had friends in his brother thieves and a family with his thief teacher and the other boys.

So when tragedy strikes, Skif is totally unprepared to lose everything he’s gained.  His home, his family, his life–gone in an instant, and only a mysterious stranger stops him from joining in his family’s fate.

And Skif could never have guessed that this tragedy would lead him to a new life altogether…and a new family and Companion he could never have hoped for.

My Thoughts:

While I liked this book, I disliked how little of it is actually spent with Skif as a Herald.  And the main action, I think, occurs far too close to the end.  There is a lot of building up to Skif’s being Chosen, with a great deal of detail of his life on the streets beforehand.  While this is useful in showing the reader Skif’s character and how he becomes the way he is, I think that we could have done with slightly less detail and more about Skif’s life once he’s Chosen.

Also, the book does not feel entirely finished.  Yes, the current plot is wrapped up, but the overall questions are not answered.  Having read all of the Valdemar books, I know this is because those overall questions are setting up the next trilogy–but it does a disservice to this book because it feels unfinished.

‘Thief’ is unofficially the third book in Alberich’s story, but Alberich plays little part in it until much later on.  His character does not factor in very much for character development–he’s only there to be something of a guide and friend for Skif.  So it’s good to read the Exile books before reading ‘Thief’, or Alberich’s character might be disappointing because Lackey doesn’t develop him in this book.

As for the character of Skif, I like him.  He’s funny, and young, but very smart and very mature.  He is such a different person within the Heralds that he makes for a refreshing change.  Skif is also very human, which makes him easily relatable to the reader.  I feel that if Skif were a real human, he would be the slightly-mysterious moderately popular funny guy that just about everyone likes.

Overall, not a bad read.  But it’s not my favorite book of Lackey’s, and I tend to only read it when I’ve read the two ‘Exile’ books as the wrap-up to Alberich’s story.  I think I can only give this three stars.

Buy on Amazon * Author’s website * GoodReads

Book info: 435 pages, published 2002, ISBN 0756400589

Copy is from personal library

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2010 3:25 PM

    I have to say I disagree with your rating. Skif is my favorite Valdemar character and I love back story books for established characters. I just love hearing more about Skif and Valdemar, so I barely noticed any lack of action.

    • Kira permalink*
      November 9, 2010 3:30 PM

      It’s just not one of my favorites. When I reach for a Valdemar book, this isn’t the one I reach for. I tend to only read it when I’m going through the series. That’s why it gets a 3 according to my breakdown. But Skif is your favorite character, it makes sense you’d disagree, whereas he’s not one of my favorites, though I do like him. He does play a much bigger roll in the following two trilogies and the next stand-alone, and I like him much better in that capacity as more of a side-character than as the main guy. And I do like the background given–just not so much of it that we’re more than halfway through the book before we even see him as a Herald.

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