Thieftaker – D.B. Jackson

About the book

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.

Hardcover 333 pages
Published on July 3, 2012
Published by Tor
Author’s webpage

This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

You may purchase this book by clicking on the following link: Thieftaker (Thieftaker Chronicles)


I got really excited when I received Thieftaker in the mail. Why? Well, the answer is simple. A fantasy taking place in pre-Revolutionary Boston? Yes, please! Furthermore, this book is written by someone with a Ph.D in American history. It’s incredibly exciting to see what an academic in the field, as well as a practiced fantasy author, can do when blending the two specialties together.

Pre-Revolutionary Boston was a chaotic place full of violent riots, which fits the rather chaotic plot that Jackson thrusts upon his readers. Boston is a churning mass of strong opinions, nervous energy and plenty of anger. While it is much (much) smaller than the Boston we know of today, important events happen there which center around important people. Enter into this tense stew Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker and conjurer.

One of the best parts of this book is how Jackson doesn’t leave any historical tidbits out. Pre-Revolutionary Boston springs to life, as does the people who inhabit it. Jackson keeps it all realistic from the clothes they wear to the way they speak. His historical detail will make it impossible for someone to read this book and not learn something new. Mixed with this is Ethan Kaille and his conjuring. Jackson’s rich history refuses to leave anything unsaid, even how Kaille has to be careful as a conjurer due to fears and prejudice the population carries from the long-past Salem Witch Trials. This goes to illustrate the most enjoyable part of Thieftaker – Jackson’s rich historical detail adds layers to the book that are truly wonderful to behold.

Kaille’s job as a thieftaker is to hunt down stolen property; however, Kaille gets hired to investigate into a wealthy merchant’s daughter’s murder. Things quickly go awry and Kaille finds himself running from one powder-keg to another, quickly finding himself embroiled in the center of chaotic political climate of the day, amid well-known historical figures like Sam Adams. The fantasy, if not obvious from Kaille’s ability as a conjurer, also comes from ghosts and etc. that Ethan finds himself confronted with on his journey.

It’s a tricky thing to blend history and fantasy so seamlessly, especially when it’s a piece of history that many people are very passionate and (somewhat) well informed about. It’s hard for an author to take this event and add fantasy without making readers pause, and D.B. Jackson does it wonderfully. Fantasy and reality blend naturally under his well-practiced hand.

Perhaps my only real complaint regarding Thieftaker would be just how many incredible situations Ethan Kaille finds himself in. As I mentioned above, once his investigation starts he seems to be running from one tense situation to another. On top of that he deals with being a conjurer and has other thieftaker enemies. It just seems like quite a bit for one man to handle in the 330-ish pages of this book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I did occasionally wonder how such a busy man found the time to go to the bathroom. There is nothing wrong with a man being busy and immersed in events, but I did feel that this occasionally kept Jackson from fully exploring the reasons and motives behind opposing groups during this incredible period of history.

Despite that, Thieftaker is sure to be a huge success among genre fans looking for something a bit different. Not only is this different, but it’s also rather intelligent. I learned quite a bit from reading Thieftaker and I’m not ashamed to admit that this book started many-a-internet search for more information regarding certain historical events and details. Jackson is a practiced fantasy author with a true gift for wordsmithing. Pre-Revolutionary Boston shines in Thieftaker, and so does Ethan Kaille and this fast moving plot. Perhaps the only true drawback will be that fans will have to wait until 2013 to read the second book in this series.


4/5 stars

One Responses

  • Thanks, Sarah. Again, another book I’ve heard good things about, and I’d like for the author to do well by. David is an interesting guy, as is his fiction.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.