Review Blog

Oct 15 2010

The Thief-Taker's Apprentice by Stephen Deas

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Gollancz, 2010. ISBN: 978-0575094475.
(Ages: 14+) The first of a series of possible books by new UK fantasy author Stephen Deas, The Thief-Taker's Apprentice is set in a medieval themed fantasy city called Deephaven. The story follows Berren, an orphaned teenager who is forced to live as a thief earning money for his abusive master Hatchet. The story begins quite gruesomely with a detailed description of the public execution, witnessed by Berren, in the town's square involving a decapitation of three convicted thieves. Following the execution Berren seizes upon an opportunity to steal the Thief-Taker's reward money and in doing so brings himself to attention to the legendary Syrannis. Rather than turning the brazen thief Berren into the authorities, Syrannis, a well respected thief-taker, decides to nurture Berren as his apprentice. With some hesitation but little choice, Berren moves in with his new master Sy, where he his looked after and is taught amongst other things manners and writing. Berren is grateful for these new opportunities but before too long becomes impatient and desperately wants to be taught sword fighting. As a result, Berren rebels against his new master and runs away and meets his acquaintances still working for his former master. This type of rebellion continues throughout the novel, with Berren learning much along the journey about making decisions and respecting elders, especially those who genuinely want to help. The Thief-Taker's Apprentice is definitely not suited for younger audience or the squeamish with some graphic depictions of violence. There are elements of romance with Berren courting his Master's other adopted minor Lilissa but this relationship is only beginning and serves more as a plot device. The novel does contain positive messages and meaningful themes for teenagers about growing-up too fast and wanting to live in an adult world before they are fully prepared to deal with the full consequences.
Adam Fitzgerald

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