Mark of the Thief
by Nielsen, Jennifer A.

Forced to enter a sealed cavern that reputedly holds the lost treasures of Caesar, slave boy Nic discovers an amulet imbued with divine power and finds himself at the center of a conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War. By the best-selling author of the Ascendance Trilogy. Simultaneous eBook.

Jennifer A. Nielsen is the acclaimed author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Ascendance Trilogy: The False Prince, The Runaway King, and The Shadow Throne. She also wrote the Mark of the Thief trilogy: Mark of the Thief, Rise of the Wolf, and Wrath of the Storm; the standalone fantasy The Scourge; the historical thriller A Night Divided; and Book Six of the Infinity Ring series, Behind Enemy Lines. Jennifer lives in northern Utah with her husband, their three children, and a perpetually muddy dog.

Following the successful The False Prince (2012) and its sequels, Nielsen launches a new series, set this time in ancient Rome and featuring another orphan boy with a family mystery. Nic is a slave working in the mines until he is sent down into Julius Caesar's sealed cavern of treasures to retrieve a magical relic, the bulla. There he finds the bulla but tangles with a protective griffin that is guarding the treasures. So the adventure begins, and in ensuing chapters, Nic is either on the run from or being held captive by those who want both the bulla and Nic's untapped magic in order to fight for control of Rome. The dialogue, character development, and plotting are not as sure in this outing as in Nielsen's previous series titles, but the humor remains solid, and the finale includes a memorable showdown. There are two more magical relics to unearth in the coming sequels, while the future of Rome and family relations are decided. Fans of Jaron, Percy, Harry, and Eugenides may be excited by this offering. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Nielsen's Ascendance trilogy spent considerable time on the New York Times best-seller list, so the start of a new series is big news for her many fans. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Compelled by an ambitious general to retrieve an amulet from Julius Caesar's treasure, long hidden in a mine outside Rome, Nic—a slave with attitude—more than succeeds, upending his life and escalating conflict among the power brokers of imperial Rome.Caesar's bulla (a good-luck amulet given to boys in wealthy families), a gift from his ancestress the goddess Venus, is especially powerful. So is the terrifying but beautiful griffin guarding it, whom Nic names Caela. The two escape the cave only to be recaptured and sent to Rome as players in the city's brutal blood sports. With the bulla's help, they survive the games—barely. Caela's wounded, and Nic flees into the sewers, where he must beg for help from the girl he's angered. There's more to Nic than meets the eye—effervescent, hot-tempered, irreverent and funny, he's a bracing antidote to jaded teen heroes commenting ironically from the sidelines. Getting out of, then right back into, tight situation s without losing sight of his goal—reuniting with his enslaved sister—Nic seizes each day with gusto, knowing his future will be short unless he can evade the power brokers—senators, Praetors, general, emperor—determined to make him their pawn. The fast-paced, ingenious plot, charismatic hero and highly diverse cast of characters—including the ancient, eternal city itself—make this series opener a captivating joy ride. (Historical fantasy. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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