I read the first book in this series maybe two years ago and loved it. I finally bought the sequel--I don't buy many hardbacks and waited until the paperback was available; I guess I'd be buying the third book, The Magic Thief: Found, which came out in hardback in May, around this time next year.
One of the things I really like about this series is its unpredictability. Too many middle-grade books follow a pretty set formula and I can guess the ending well before I'm halfway through the book. These books are different. They're also fantastic.
Connwaer--which means black bird, although he's usually known as Conn--is a thief who happens to be a wizard. A potential wizard, anyway. In the first book, Conn pickpocketed a wizard named Nevery, who ultimately took him on as an apprentice. This book picks up a year after the previous book's events. Conn's no closer to finding his locus magicalicus--the locus stone that will let him work magic--and as a result, he's not allowed to go to school and is barely allowed to remain Nevery's apprentice. On the other hand, Conn's not going to let a little thing like that stand in his way. He's certain there are other ways to reach the magic that protects his city of Wellmet. He's also certain the magic is a living being, and that wizards' magic words are its language. And he's pretty sure one way of contacting the magic is by setting off small, slow explosions. It works--and Conn learns to his dismay that the magic of Wellmet is frightened, and that it expects him to help it. He just doesn't know what he's supposed to do.
I love Sarah Prineas's writing, which is clear and clever. She has a playfulness with words that fits easily into Conn's character--the story is told in first person. Conn is quiet, stubborn, and both a thinker and a do-er. He's also immensely likable, probably because he worries about those who are close to him, including Wellmet's magic. He does what he knows has to be done to help others, but he does it his own way--which of course includes picking locks and picking pockets.