Book Review: A Plunder of Souls

A Plunder of Souls by D.B. Jackson, Thieftaker Chronicles #3

Boston, 1769: Ethan Kaille, a Boston thieftaker who uses his conjuring to catch criminals, has snared villains and defeated magic that would have daunted a lesser man. What starts out as a mysterious phenomenon that has local ministers confused becomes something far more serious.

A ruthless, extremely powerful conjurer seeks to wake the souls of the dead to wreak a terrible revenge on all who oppose him. Kaille's minister friends have been helpless to stop crimes against their church. Graves have been desecrated in a bizarre, ritualistic way. Equally disturbing are reports of recently deceased citizens of Boston reappearing as grotesquely disfigured shades, seemingly having been disturbed from their eternal rest, and now frightening those who had been nearest to them in life. But most personally troubling to Kaille is a terrible waning of his ability to conjure. He knows all these are related…but how?

When Ethan discovers the source of this trouble, he realizes that his conjure powers and those of his friends will not be enough to stop a madman from becoming all-powerful. But somehow, using his wits, his powers, and every other resource he can muster, Ethan must thwart the monster's terrible plan and restore the restless souls of the dead to the peace of the grave.  

I have been a long time fan of David B. Coe's books and last year I read my first, and his second book in the Thieftaker Chronicles (written under the pseudonym of D.B. Jackson), Thieves Quarry. The earlier books of David B. Coe were epic fantasy and with the Thieftaker Chronicles he introduced an alternate history series taking place in Boston, however it's not only an alternate history story, D.B. Jackson masterfully weaves urban fantasy and detective themes into his story as well! The Thieftaker Chronicles are a prime example of what is needed to keep fantasy new and exciting! 

In Thieves Quarry, Ethan Kaille, one of Boston's most (in)famous thieftakers had his work cut out for him and was dealing with his biggest case so far. Since Thieves Quarry introduced me to Ethan Kaille and the world that D.B. Jackson envisioned in his Thieftaker Chronicles I didn't have any knowledge of what happened in the first book, this didn't proof to be a barrier as some of the dealing of the first book were explained but mostly Thieves Quarry is a stand-alone contained story, like those case files you see in many urban fantasy series. Just a short note for those who aren't familiar with the Thieftaker Chronicles. The story revolves around the Boston Thieftaker, Ethan Kaille, who has a special gift. Ethan is a conjurer, able to call magic spells, but there is a twist. There is always a cost, and this can be either big or small depending on the type of spell. Ethan uses this conjuring for solving his crimes. It has given him a huge advantage over others but it also has caused him to get drawn into some difficulties and since the events of Thieves Quarry, his fellow thieftaker and revival Sephira Pierce also has one working for her and this has taken his edge away.

A Plunder of Souls begins with Ethan working a normal case to retrieve a set of pistols and jsut as he has solved the case i.e. retrieved the stolen goods he gets a visit by his revival Sephira and her strong hands. Ethan with his wit manages to escape and keep his well earned pay. Only after this Ethan is approached for another job, one with a more gruesome theme than retrieving a set of pistol. Throughout Boston in several cemeteries bodies have been dug up and their graves desecrated, several items have been cut off the bodies and symbols have been carved into their chests. By one of these things Ethan's directly connects the dots, all the dug up corpses miss three toes from their feet and this is just what Ethan has as well. Is someone gunning for him? As Ethan get deeper and deeper into his investigation several clues just don't seem to add up and just as he is about to give he makes one breakthrough, one with links to his past. If you have read Thieves Quarry and thought that Ethan had a tough job, in A Plunder of Souls he is facing his toughest case so far. One person, Sephira, with her interference doesn't make Ethan's job any easier. But in order to save the fate of his fellow conjurers and the people of Boston both Ethan and Sephira have to call for a cease-fire else there won't be nothing left for them to fight over.  As with D.B. Jackson's books you are always in for an inventive plot/story and A Plunder of Souls is no exception. D.B. Jackson pulls all the stops to create one epic story. As I have mentioned many times before I am a big sucker for cool magic and D.B. Jackson explores the conjuring ability, it's strengths and boundaries in much more depth in A Plunder of Souls

I have to say that I was very impressed with the story that D.B. Jackson has put down in A Plunder of Souls. Thieves Quarry was a great read but with A Plunder of Souls he really has outdone himself. The idea behind the second book in the series was great and when you read the eventual plot of how it all was done it was like this awing moment, and as I have mentioned with A Plunder of Souls D.B. Jackson pulls all the stops and makes an even bigger idea come to life this really makes you wonder just what other deadly encounters there are in store for Ethan and how dangerous this conjuring can be. 

A big plus to the story of A Plunder of Souls was the focus on the bad guy. In the beginning Ethan is clueless about who could be desecrating the graves but eventually he does find who is doing this grim business and that is only about half way in. So I was wondering just how the story would continue since it should have been a done deal for Ethan and his conjuring ability. However it soon proves to be the opposite. In the last half o the book D.B. Jackson shows just how dangerous certain people and their actions can be. Ethan tries again and again to defeat the bad guy but he just cannot over come the strength of him. It reminded me a bit of a cold war kind of thing where both threatened the other but hardly coming to the deadly blow... Also the bad guy in this case thinks he is invincible, these kind of thoughts can easily cause your downfall...

Ethan once again makes up for an great protagonist to draw the story forward. There is no denying he has a great knack of solving the crime business for the people of Boston but D.B. Jackson clearly shows that the living in 1769 was far from easy going and Ethan lives day by day and job by job, when he doesn't work he won't make money and he won't be able to eat and pay his rent. It was nice to see that this influences the behavior of Ethan, that he has to accept jobs even those that don't appeal to him just to get some money to keep on going. On a different side, though Ethan's actions are steered by this he isn't one to be negative about it and makes the best of everything, there is enough reprieve when he is with friends and I do think that Ethan likes to best Sephira every way he can. Though there is a definite tension between them, it never really comes to blows. I am a big fan of their little interplay. It does seem pretty innocent but does make me wonder whether this is just the case. 

As for the other characters that you see in A Plunder of Souls most of them are recurrent like Sephira and her band as well as Kannice which is an ungoing complex love relation. Just as we learn more and more about Ethan's character, D.B. Jackson also invests a lot of time in developing the secondary characters more and more. Even though Sephira is turning dirtier and dirtier by the moment there are some great moments when a certain realization dawns on her and made her wonder whether constantly crossing Ethan is for the better of both. The conjurer, Mariz, that Sephira added to her band did show a great importance in this book and he still owes his life to Ethan and this added a division between his loyalties when he had to deal with Sephira and Ethan at the same time, some nice inner struggles there. Just the last person I want to mention is Janna Windcatcher, she is Ethan's go to person when it all comes to conjuring, the best thing here is that even though Ethan is stubborn, when it comes to the higher forces he gladly takes on the experience of an more experienced conjurer. All in all the characters are well fleshed out and you can really see that D.B. Jackson has invested a lot of time in them.

A Plunder of Souls is a terrific addition to the Thieftaker Chronicles. D.B. Jackson shows once again that he knows how to pull all the right strings to create one creative story. As I have said if you though that Thieves Quarry was great wait till you get your hands on A Plunder of Souls, its even better, D.B. Jackson has really outdone himself. The story of A Plunder of Souls shows just how deadly conjuring can be but also shows how dangerous people can be when they are set out for revenge and when they don't shy away when it comes to sacrificing other for their gain. The alternate world wherein the Thieftaker Chronicles take place really has that historical sense working in it's favor, you can see the hardships of that time, just getting around earning enough money to live another day, it musn't have been a great time to have lived in. However the world isn't only painted with dark and grim strokes but there is also the joy and humor found in Ethan's character and his interactions with several other characters. A Plunder of Souls is a great book and features nicely as a standalone, D.B. Jackson has signed a four book deal so I am curious to see just where the fourth book will take us and in the meanwhile I will be rooting that it will be extended beyond the four books! Definitely a recommendation.



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