Mark of the Thief- Jennifer A Nielsen

Synopsis: 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 in 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 purpose.

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.


Violent history, violent culturally
There’s definitely action – he learns to fight with magic, war is about to begin. He’s wounded and stabbed a few times, but can heal himself. He sets wild animals loose on every armed man in the arena.


Talk of Nic’s sister becoming the master’s wife. He thinks Aurelia’s pretty. They’re just friends, though.




Nic is a slave and mostly listens because of punishments otherwise. He is not respectful, but neither are the masters. He did help his master escape punishment, however. He hates his former master and ran away. He also has no love for the government. Nic puts on a show of respect because of the consequence.




It is set in Roman times, and so the Roman gods are mentioned quite frequently.

It is written as if the gods were real. Nic believes in them, especially the goddess Diana, whom the characters believe gives Nic his magic.


Nic has a lot of hatred in his heart… bitterness toward his masters and government. He and Aurelia have a like/dislike relationship – she has a vicious temper. They lie about various things; she steals manacles and he stole the bulla. In a way, she uses him to get what she wants before becoming his friend. It results in a big fight.

There is magic. The bula (necklace, type thing) Nic found/stole, gives Nic the power to wield magic.

Overall feel: It’s a very interesting read – things are constantly happening and it’s not boring at all. It leaves you wondering, and thinking about the next book. The constant mentions of mythology, and the hatred displayed in the culture, as well as the characters, might dissuade some from reading it. It definitely isn’t a happy, rainbow and flowers, book. But, that said, I did enjoy it.

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