Publisher's Note:  

Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of the NYT and USA TODAY bestselling Ascendance Trilogy, has woven an electrifying tale of greed and power, magic and destiny, and one boy's courage at the heart of it all.

When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods -- magic some Romans would kill for.

Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes.

In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

Mark of the Thief

by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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Overall Review:  

Mark of a Thief is the first in a fast-paced, action-packed adventure series that takes the reader back to the days of Rome.  Veteran writer, Jennifer A. Nielsen (The False Prince), uses her craft to transport the reader back to a time that is full of turmoil. Rome is on the precipice of change and possibly chaos as there are many factions vying for power. Thrown into the middle of this is Nic, who appears to be just a lowly slave.  But as usual, appearances can be deceiving and this novel takes us on the journey of watching the true Nic unfold.


On Nic's journey, Nielsen weaves in magic, mythical creatures, mystery, political intrigued, friendship, learning to trust, love of family, and loyalty to country--as well as self-discovery for Nic. The images the author creates with her words are vivid and her storytelling really makes one feel as if they are there.  Mark of a Thief is an dramatic account of a pivotal time in Rome's history, but brought down to a very personal level and told in a very compelling story that will leave the readers wanting more.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  None


Violence/Gore:  Many references (20+) to how slaves are treated including being chained, forced to do dangerous tasks, being whipped, starvation, branding, being man-handled, beatings; reference to being branded on forehead as an escaped slave; account of slave dying in the mines; boy threatened with a knife; mention of man killing 50 pirates; scene describing skulls and bones laying on the floor; man described as having died of fear; a brief account of man's injuries received as punishment; character threatens another with a knife; animal inflicts injury to a character; story told of 2 brothers fighting for control of the city leading to one killing the other; story told of Caesar's assassination; 2 accounts of the gladiator fights; 2 characters fight, including punching and wrestling and ends with one pulling out a knife to threaten the other; account of a Venatio--putting hungry wild animals in an arena with criminals as form of an execution; mention of hungry lions killing 30 men; account of person being whipped; character threatened with execution; 3 accounts of soldiers striking characters; detailed account (5 pages) of character put into the Venatio arena, which includes having hands and feet bound, being tied to a horse and being pursued by wild animals and a hunter; description of carnage from Venatio; character attacked and thrown down by another; animal attacked with a spear with intent to kill; character causes earthquake-like destruction; character hit with an arrow and wound described; character sets fire to a village using magic; character severely whipped; extended detailed scene (3 pages) of gladiator-type fight between 2 characters who also have magic; character holds girl hostage to get what he wants; character kills another with magic; character talks about assassinating the emperor.


Sex/Nudity:  2 characters of the opposite sex playfully wrestle, hold hands and touch the cheek of the other.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Slavery, abuse, child abandonment, gladiator fighting, death of parents, assassination, political intrigue.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  


Reviewed By Sally
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