“Thief’s Magic” by Trudi Canavan

This is another book that I received from NetGalley, although it’s been out for a while now. I’ve heard of Trudi Canavan, but never actually read any of her books before, despite having one or two hanging around the house. This seemed like a good one to start with, though.

I was put off reading Thief’s Magic for a long time because of its length. When I was younger I used to seek out long books for the exact same reason I tend to avoid them nowadays: I can read a short book in an hour or two, and I don’t like books where it takes me multiple sittings to get through them. But I needn’t have worried. Although it’s fairly long, it’s a quick read — the prose is very readable and the storyline engaging.

Throughout the book we follow two characters, focusing on one for a few chapters before swapping to the other. I’m more used to books that swap every other chapter if they swap at all, so this was unusual, and sometimes frustrating. As the book went on, the gaps between switches got smaller, but even so, Canavan would often switch viewpoints after a cliffhanger, and by the time we returned to that character again, I’d forgotten whatever it was that had been so exciting.

The main thing I didn’t like about this book was that it was very definitely setting up for a series. You couldn’t forget that. The ending seemed to lack resolution — Canavan didn’t even try to wrap things up, just left it all for the next book. And usually, when there are two viewpoints we expect the characters to meet at some point, but as of the end of the book, they hadn’t.

I’ve got some idea how that meeting will happen in the future — my theories grew less vague as the book went on, and now I’m pretty confident I can predict how it would happen — but it hasn’t happened yet. Which was sort of dissatisfying. I was reading two entirely separate stories, and they didn’t even have much in common.

I don’t mind books that leave things open-ended for a sequel, but there’s a difference between an open end and, like, not having an end at all.

One thing I loved was the worldbuilding (no surprises there, right?) and the magic system, which is totally different from any others I’ve read lately. In this book, there’s a finite amount of magic in the atmosphere, which is a problem. In places it’s impossible to do spells because there just isn’t enough magic. I’d always thought of magic as being something inside people, not in the world itself, so I found that really interesting.

I also loved the prominence of books: I am always up for magical books. Plus, I liked the diversity of characters, whether we’re talking about things like background, culture and appearance, or their ideology and approach to magic. Even their economic situation. They definitely weren’t generic cookie-cutter characters.

Overall I enjoyed it, but I felt somewhat let down by the ending and its total lack of resolution. Part of me wants to read the next book to get that desired closure; part of me is annoyed at Canavan and doesn’t want to fall into her trap. We’ll see how I feel by the time I track down book two. Is it even out yet? I have no idea.

Anyway, it was pretty good, so if you’re cool with committing yourself to a series of which this book is largely setup, it’s a four-star read. I’d probably give it 3.5 if I was into the whole partial-stars thing, but I’m not, so I’ll round it up. I’m feeling generous.

Rating: ****

Buy Thief’s Magic on Amazon (UK)

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