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Thief of Lives
Barb & J.C. Hendee
Roc, 464 pages

Thief of Lives
Barb & J.C. Hendee
Barb & J.C. Hendee live just outside of Boulder, Colorado, close to the Rocky Mountains. Both are online college instructors in English; J.C. teaches for Metropolitan State College of Denver, and Barb teaches for the University of Colorado at Denver. Barb's short fiction has appeared in numerous genre magazines and anthologies. She is the author of the novel Blood Memories. J.C.'s poetry, non-fiction, and short fiction have also appeared in many genre magazines. Although they have worked together as a writing team before, Dhampir and its four sequels are their first novel-length collaborations.

Barb & J.C. Hendee Website
ISFDB Bibliography: Barb Hendee
ISFDB Bibliography: J.C. Hendee

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

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For Magiere and Leesil, today should be the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. Their tavern, the Sea Lion, is about to reopen, and both have seemed to settle into their lives in the village of Miiska. For Magiere, believing that their lives will remain normal lets her sleep at night, even though Leesil doesn't buy it. Both of them are half bloods. He, a half elf who was trained to be an assassin by his mother, Magiere a half vampire, or Dhampir, whose only legacy from her father is a sword and some amulets. Neither know why their parents did what they did. Why did Leesil's mother give him the talents to be an assassin without even allowing him to know her native tongue? Why would Magiere's Noble Dead father provide her with the tools to hunt his own kind?

It is a mystery that only begins to unfold in this sequel to Dhampir. Here, the real concern is a murder that has taken place in the land's capital city, Bela. A councilman's daughter has been left murdered on her doorstep, the savagery looking like a vampire murder. Her father, Lanjov, like many people, has heard about the village of Miiska and how the village was freed from the grip of a trio of vampires, even though the price, including a burned warehouse, was great. He has sent to Miiska for the vampire hunter with an offer she can't refuse, especially in light of how hard the warehouse fire started by Leesil to save her life has hit the town. So she, Leesil and Chap, their strangely smart even for a dog friend find themselves on a ship to Bela.

Thief of Lives takes the whole vampire slayer mythos and moves into an entirely new setting. The world the Hendees create is not the medieval fantasy-based one, but a mixture of pre-Victorian with a small slice of eastern Europe flavor. We don't learn much about the Elves, but we learn enough about this mysterious people to see that they have a rather interestingly structured, very insular culture that I look forward to exploring in future books.

Magiere and Leesil are a really captivating pair. They each have flaws galore. Leesil has a weakness for gambling and drinking that he's trying to conquer. As he himself points out, sometimes the only real Magiere is an angry one. But they are likable because of their flaws, not despite them. Magiere doesn't waste time with pleasantries, she wants to get down to business. Leesil is willing to be more tactful, but his real worry is being prepared for the next time he meets a vampire, so that he never lets down Magiere, who he has been friends with for years. As they try and unravel the mystery and discover the identity of the vampire, despite Council's utter unwillingness to help, we discover a lot of things. We learn more about Leesil's painful past, we find out some surprising things about Chap, and we discover, finally, what Welstiel, the mysterious helper from the last book, really wants with Magiere.

Despite the well-told mystery, the adventure and wonderful characterization that made Thief of Lives its own stand alone tale, it is still, because of these elements, very much a lead up to the next book. Or at least I hope there is a next book, because I honestly enjoyed this one. They handle the ideas and conventions inherent in vampires really well. While, thanks to the clever setting and characters, they make it feel like a very different twist on the subject. There are inevitable comparisons to Anita Blake and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While I, too, have used that to describe it quickly to friends, it has its own strengths. You don't have to be a fan of either to enjoy this series.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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