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Thief of Lives by Barb & J. C. Hendee
Review by Nicki Lynch
Roc / Penguin Putnam PPBK  ISBN/ITEM#: 0451459539
Date: 1 January 2004 List Price 6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Thief Of Lives begins with a terrible murder of a young woman in the prologue and then opens with the reintroduction of the series' recurring characters. Leesil, a half elf, half human, is practicing his fighting moves in the woods and reflecting on his life in the past as compared to his present. Months earlier, he and his partner, Magiere, had traveled and bilked simple towns folks out of their money by convincing them their village had Undead among them who were causing illness or strange deaths. Magiere would claim to be a dhampir, a hunter of the undead, while Leesil would pretend to be the monster she would stake to collect the fee. Traveling with them was his dog, Chap, a large silver-blue hound.

They earned a fair living pretending to be vampire hunters until they decided to settle down in the seaside town of Miiska. After buying a tavern, the Sea Lion, they discovered there was a trio of vampires living there and the towns people, having heard Magiere's reputation, wanted her to kill them. Magiere and Leesil manage to kill two of the three and burn down several buildings as well.

It's now several months later and the tavern has been rebuilt. Magiere is ready to retire to the life of an inn keeper, but Leesil is not so sure they will be able to. He foreboding is correct, and soon a letter arrives asking them to travel to the capital city of Bela to find a vampire who has killed a noble's daughter. Magiere has discovered she is a dhampir, that her father was a vampire, and that she has a taste for blood when vampires are around. In the encounter she and Leesil had with the vampires of Miiska, she nearly killed him when he "fed" her to keep her alive after a vicious attack. Because of that, she doesn't want to ever hunt vampires again. However, Leesil persuades her to take the job in Bela for the money which would help out their new found home of Miiska.

Meanwhile in Bela, Ratboy (who now calls himself Toret), one of the vampires who escaped Miiska has settled in and created two more like himself as his minions. Chane is a nobleman who teaches Toret sword fighting and an introduction to the upper classes; Sapphire is a former prostitute and the love of his life, when she isn't shopping or going to taverns. Toret was glad to get out of Miiska after nearly being given a second death by Leesil.

Once in Bela, Magiere and Leesil began their hunt for the vampires, unaware they are hunting a vampire they already know and that they are being watched by a mysterious man.

Thief Of Lives was well done and I enjoyed it. The authors obviously have a plan as to where their characters lives are headed and give the reader just enough about the characters to keep interested without giving too much away. While I felt there was too much of Magiere and Leesil stressing about hurting each other, which slowed the story to almost a halt, something would happen to pick up the pace again. I enjoyed the new characters who were introduced with hints that they would continue in the series. I also liked that some threads were tied up while others were left to tantalize the reader into the next book.

This new series by Barb & J.C. Hendee is welcome as a fresh look at the vampire hunter.

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