Thief Errant Book I

Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, October 1, 2010
ISBN 9780545136051 | 400 pp | Grades 7 and up

Digger thrives as a spy and sneak-thief among the feuding religious factions of Gerse, dodging the Greenmen who have banned all magic. But when a routine job goes horribly wrong and her partner is killed, she has to get out of the city, fast, and hides herself in a merry group of nobles to do so. Accepted as a lady’s maid to shy young Merista Nemair, Digger finds new peace and friendship at the Nemair stronghold—as well as plenty of jewels for the taking. But after the devious Lord Daul catches her in the act of thievery, he blackmails her into becoming his personal spy in the castle, and Digger soon realizes that her noble hosts aren’t as apolitical as she thought, and she may be at the heart of a magical rebellion.

  • ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • A Kansas Notable Book
  • A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book

Megan Whalen Turner: “The kind of story I like best.”

Tamora Pierce:  “Bunce has made me happy again.”

Kirkus:  “An adolescent thief threads a treacherous labyrinth of politics and sorcery in this fine series opener. Digger knows the rules—Stay Alive, Don’t Get Caught, Don’t Get Involved—but they’re tricky to follow when a job gone sour lands her with a dead partner, brutal Greenmen on her trail and a cushy hideout as an aristocratic lady’s maid. Blackmailed into spying on her kindly employers, she’s soon juggling a dizzying tangle of plots, betrayals and lies, desperate to preserve the most dangerous secret of all…her own. The narrative plunges immediately into action with a daunting barrage of arcane names, places and concepts, but determined readers are rewarded with an enthralling yarn of magical intrigue, all in Digger’s irresistible voice—clever, cynical, cocky, with an undercurrent of aching loneliness. Given that everyone in one faction is warm, generous and wise and their opponents uniformly vicious, spiteful and cruel, it’s not hard to guess which way Digger will jump; it’s downright impossible not to follow wherever her quick tongue, nimble fingers and itchy feet will carry her next.”

Horn Book:  “This captivating yarn set in a romantic, snowbound fortress takes place in a pseudo-Renaissance period, ornamented with Dutch, English, German, and Spanish flourishes, with nods to Shakespeare, Tamora Pierce, and Robin McKinley. …A mixture of bunkum (“Silence, wretch!…You presume to question…? Begone before we…”) and more vivifying prose—including the highly quotable “nobody likes a whiny prince”—this is satisfyingly stuffed with plots and subplots, towers and hidden chambers, genteel pastimes and death-defying feats. Celyn is a strong, imaginative heroine—more than the generic “feisty girl,” and the rest of the female cast also show noteworthy fortitude and inventiveness. An entertaining lark.”

Romantic Times:  “A complexly woven, magical world complete with castles, forbidden magic, mystery, suspense, and of course, a strong and feisty heroine. Readers will be on the edge of their seats in this original and tense world.” (four stars)

YA Books Central:  “In addition to Bunce fans looking for more of her great characters and intriguing plot lines, a new and diverse audience will be pleasantly surprised to find themselves transported to a different world… All in all, it’s obvious why Bunce’s editors signed on for a sequel. Readers will be eager to follow the master storyteller for the long-haul, into war and beyond.”

Lynn Rutan, Adbooks:  “This is a political fantasy, densely written but richly developed and incredibly absorbing. The plotting and characterization are very intriguing and the issues well integrated. The door is certainly open to more adventures for the protagonist. I was really impressed with this one. Read it on a vacation where you have chunks of time or when you have sent your children off to camp. Read it sitting on your patio in the morning with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine at night. This is a book, like the wine, that needs to be savored and appreciated, not rushed through like fast food. Although as the end approaches, you may be taking big gulps!”

Rebecca Barnhouse, author of The Book of the Maidservant:  “A rich and layered fantasy that Megan Whalen Turner’s fans will particularly enjoy for its combination of the personal and the political. Digger, the compelling protagonist, lives in a complex world that feels utterly convincing: old, and lived-in, with plenty of varying traditions amongst its different peoples. There’s a large cast of characters who slowly come into focus as fully-developed people, each with his or her own surprises (not least of whom is Digger herself). There isn’t a single character who doesn’t seem real to me, and each of them is harboring some secret or other—the kind of secret that, when revealed, took me completely by surprise despite all the clues Bunce dropped. …Save it for a time when you have the leisure to sink into it, getting to know the world, the characters, and the secrets that Bunce unspools in such an assured and leisurely way. But be ready to keep turning the pages when you get near the end, because that’s when the suspense will grab you and keep you up late to finish.”