Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen

Nic is a slave working a mine in ancient Rome.  When a rich man arrives at the mines he sends Nic into a newly discovered cave to retrieve something for him.  Nic assumes he is going to his death since the others who have entered the cave have not returned but despite his rebellious nature he doesn't have much choice.  Inside the cave, Nic finds great treasures, the bulla - a magical necklace the rich man wanted - and a griffin.  Against his orders, Nic puts on the bulla and uses the griffin to make his escape after the griffin has marked him. Now that he is wearing the bulla Nic understands why the man wanted him to find it because he can feel the powers coursing through him.  Nic realizes that the bulla belonged to Julius Caesar and knows that whomever wears the necklace will have great powers.  Nic's new powers are further amplified by the griffin mark on his back but he has no idea how to control them.  He needs to find out soon, though, because many people in Rome are clamoring for the bulla to carry out their own agendas.

I am a fan of The False Prince as are most of my students.  I had Jennifer Nielsen come to visit my school and she did a great job working with the kids and getting them excited about writing, reading and her books.  At that time she had just returned from Italy where she was doing research for this book so I had even more excitement for this release.  However, this book did not live up to The False Prince for me.  In fact, I didn't care much about Nic nor his friends/helpers and had a hard time just getting through the story at all.  Despite my issues with it, Mark of the Thief was selected for a countywide reading program this year and it seems like my students are also less enamored with this book than her previous works.  I like the griffin, though.