by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Praetor War, a battle between both human and gods for Rome, is happening and Nic Calva is at the center of it. The Praetors believe that Nic holds the key to the Malice of Mars, the next of the amulets of the gods after Caesar’s bulla. The Praetors are desperate for Nic to get them the Malice, which will allow them to create a Jupiter Stone. Since Nic won’t help the Praetors willing, they decide to make him, by using his mother.
Nic knows that he has to save his mother. Which means that he is willing to challenge the Praetors and hinge the fate of Rome on a chariot race. If Nic wins, the Praetors release his mother. If he loses, Nic will have to give the Praetors the Malice of Mars, which would seal Rome’s doom.
In the second book of the Mark of the Thief Trilogy, Jennifer A. Nielsen keeps ramping up the stakes. Everyone Nic cares about is in danger. And then there this is mysterious Mistress who is tied to the Malice of Mars. And the fact that whether Nic loses and wins his challenge with the Praetors, someone is going to force him to make a Jupiter Stone, whether that be the Praetors or Radulf, which will doubtlessly kill him. Tricks and deception only make is harder for the reader and Nic to know what the outcome will be.
I loved watching the character development in this book. It was also neat to get to see more of Livia’s character, since she really wasn’t in the first book much.
Since the Praetor War is in full swing now, the violence picks up a little bit more in this book, including a death and some broken bones. All of it is still non-graphic.
Also, be forewarned: Nielsen is an expert at ending her second books on cliffhangers, and this one is no exception. Make sure you have the next book close by.
Cautions: mild romance; moderate, non-graphic violence.