Review: Thief’s Magic, Trudi Canavan

July 11, 2014 Reviews 1 ★★★½

Review: Thief’s Magic, Trudi CanavanThief's Magic by Trudi Canavan
Series: Milennium's Rule #1
Published by Orbit on May 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 528
Source: Bookworld Reviewer Program
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, discovers a sentient book in an ancient tomb. Vella was once a young sorcerer-maker, until she was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been gathering information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.

Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests since a terrible war depleted all but a little magic, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows from her ability to sense the stain it leaves behind that she has a talent for it, and that there are people willing to teach her how to use it, should she ever need to risks the Angels’ wrath.


I was very excited to read this first book in a brand new series from an Aussie author I have heard so many great things about. While I was very impressed with the world-building, the stories themselves left me a little disappointed. This is a totally new world – no reading of Trudi Canavan’s previous works is required.

Tyen is a student sorcerer who occasionally accompanies his teacher on archaeology trips, sourcing riches for the academy. On one such trip he uncovers a magical artifact – a book bound in human skin that can read the mind of whoever holds it, and communicate via words on its pages. Tyen, usually loyal to the Academy to a fault, decides to keep the book to himself for a little while, but he must make a run for it once his crime has been discovered. In Tyen’s world, magic is used widely to power machines of all types – a sort of “magic-punk” society.

In another world, Rielle is the young daughter of a dyer – a lower family in the heirarchy of wealthy families. In this world, the use of magic is tightly controlled to only the male priests of the temple, and the ability to use magic or see its after-effects by anyone else is seen as a taint that must be punished and eradicated. Rielle has kept the fact that she is able to see Stain, or the after-effects of magic use, a tightly guarded secret, but her life is turned upside down when one day she is approached by a tainted man on the run from the priests.

While I enjoyed the worlds built around each of the characters and the differences between them, I was rather baffled by the dual nature of the story. There are two distinct stories in this book that never interact. I’m assuming that they will at some point, but I was disappointed that it didn’t happen during this book.

The most interesting facet of this book is the two different cultures shown in each of Tyen and Rielle’s stories. The same kind of magic exists in both worlds and is accessed in the same way, but each culture approaches the use of magic in a different way – controlled in Rielle’s magic-rich world by the enigmatic “Angels”, or usable by anyone in Tyen’s world, where magic seems to be running low.

I think the main thing I didn’t like about Thief’s Magic is that both Tyen and Rielle were painfully naive and, let’s be frank, a little dumb. They continued to trust people and institutions who they had already heard conflicting reports about, and I just found some of their decisions to be annoyingly short-sighted. But then, they aren’t heroes, just ordinary people who are dealing with some difficult situations.

I will be looking out for further books in this series as I’m interested in finding out what happens to Tyen and Rielle separately and if their paths ever cross.

three-half-stars – I enjoyed the society and a world building of Thief’s Magic, even if the execution didn’t quite do it for me.

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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