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    TAKE A THIEF by Mercedes Lackey


    DAW, October 2001

    For Skif, joining a small band of thieves is a huge step up in the world. For the first time in his life, he has a warn place to sleep, enough (if barely) to eat, and someone to teach him useful skills (like pickpocketing). When a fire destroys his new family and arson is rumored, Skif vowes revenge. His plots, however, are severely disrupted when he is selected by a 'companion.' Instead of simply being a thief, Skif is the first thief-Herald.

    TAKE A THIEF is an intriguing addition to author Mercedes Lackey's (see more reviews of novels by this author) Valdemar series. Skif is an engaging character. His turn to thiefery fully understandable given the rough conditions of his upbringing and the alternatives available to him. Lackey's description of the bond between human and companion (a horse-like sapient creature capable of mental communications directly with a selected human and with other companions) is emotionally compelling and vivid.

    TAKE A THIEF plays for relatively small stakes in the Valdemar universe. Instead of great evils that threaten the world, Skif must deal with kidnappers, arsonists, and lords with too much money and not enough sense. The smaller scape of this novel means that more of the enjoyment comes from Lackey's fine descriptions of the city and its poverty-stricken slums.

    Although Lackey doesn't avoid describing the evils of poverty (including alcoholism, prostitution, and human slavery), the thief band she describes are probably just a little too perfect to be credible even in a fantasy universe like that of Valdemar. Still, TAKE A THIEF is a fine read, enhanced by Lackey's engaging style.

    Three Stars

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