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D.B. Jackson
Tor, 336 pages

D.B. Jackson
D.B. Jackson (aka David B. Coe) grew up just outside of New York City. He went to Brown then Stanford studying US history receiving his Ph.D. in 1993. Coe works as a freelance writer. The sequel to Children of Amarid, titled The Outlanders, is due before the end of 1998. He lives with his family in Tennessee.

D.B. Jackson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Children of Amarid

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

Thieftaker, the first book in the Thieftaker Chronicles, combines historical fiction and urban fantasy in a thoroughly enjoyable story. David B. Coe has written numerous epic fantasy stories, but Thieftaker, written as D.B. Jackson, is his first foray into the past. The action takes place in 1765 Boston shortly after the Stamp Act riots and as tension is revving up between the colonists and the royalists. Ethan Kaille, the hero of our tale, is a conjurer, who uses organic matter -- usually his own blood, but leaves and grass will do -- to create magic. He uses his magic to eke out a living as a thieftaker, and as long as he sticks to middle-class clients, Sephira Pryce, Boston's ruling thieftaker doesn't bother him.

But then a rich man hires him to recover a missing brooch that was stolen from his murdered daughter and hopefully find the murderer along the way. And this case is different from all the others since the girl was killed by a spell. Sephira Pryce wants to make sure he knows that this case is a one-time exception, but after it's done, he will return to the merchant and lower classes for his clients. The case soon becomes personal as those he cares about are put in danger, and Ethan ends up facing a lot more than he bargained for and may not be able to solve the case and stay alive.

Kaille is a complex, flawed and realistic character. He spent a number of years on a slave plantation in Jamaica for taking part in a mutiny, lost the girl he loved and, as a conjurer, is always in jeopardy of someone turning him into the authorities as practicing witchcraft. Kaille is no super-hero but just a regular guy who conjures which makes him all the more likeable and believable. He has to use his wits as well as his wizardry and sometimes has to make hard choices.

Jackson brings to life a number of fairly complex, flawed and believable minor characters such as Kaille's former love, his current love interest, a young man studying to become a minister and a friend who works on the docks. While Jackson's plot isn't overly complex, his ability to shape character, utilize Ethan's magical abilities and recreate the world of pre-revolutionary Boston, enables Thieftaker to be greater than the sum of its parts. Historical figures along with fictional ones played their parts in this tale, and Jackson made a point of sharing details of the food, clothing, industry, daily activities and a detailed layout of Boston in this period. Jackson's education in U.S. history likely made this task much easier than perhaps for another writer. One of his greatest abilities, however, is how to end a chapter so a reader isn't able to put the book down and get sleep. I ended up reading this book almost in one sitting, so I blame all my small mistakes at work the next day on Jackson. Hopefully he'll take this blame with good grace, knowing that it's really a compliment. I look forward to read Thieves' Quarry, the second installment in this series, as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Copyright © 2012 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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