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The Thief Knot: 02/21/20

The Thief Knot

The Thief Knot by Kate Milford is another Nagspeak novel. Like Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, there are enough Nagspeak books now to have spawned multiple series. In total publication, The Thief Knot is the eighth book. Of the Greenglass House (2014) books, it's the fourth.

This book is set primarily in the Liberty, a vibrant walled city, sort of a Vatican City for thieves and smugglers. It follows Marzana, first introduced in Ghosts of Greenglass House (2018). Marzana, save for an eventful Christmas trip to Greenglass House, has lived a boring life, unaware of her parents' adventures. She knows they've had them, that they are continuing to have them, sometimes, and is growing resentful at their secrecy.

Marzana and her friends are fans of a children's mystery series that is part Choose Your Own Adventures and part 39 Clues but with a complexity that Nagspeak and Liberty natives would expect. And it's because of these books that Marzana is desperate for a mystery or a caper. She wants her very own adventure.

A Nagspeak kidnapping with ties to the Liberty ends up being just the mystery Marzana has been dreaming of. A girl about her age has been taken. She's believed to be in the Liberty. Marzana's parents have been contacted to help find the girl but she believes she and her friends have the advantage. They are children, after all, and they know the city the way children would.

Their investigation, like every other Nagspeak novel to date, falls into the road narrative spectrum. Given the changeable nature of the iron, I expect all the books in this series will have a place on the R.N.S.

The travelers are Marzana and her friends. Most of them are fellow classmates, but some are recruits from another school, brought onto this case because of specific skills or knowledge. As they are children and are accountable to their parents, teachers, and other adults, they are marginalized travelers (66). But their access to the schools and their invisibility as children, does give them certain advantages over their parents.

Their destination is home (66). First there is the metaphorical goal of finding and returning the girl to her home, her parents. Second, there are their own homes where they plan, investigate, and solve puzzles and clues. Finally, there are two literal homes that have been used by the criminals.

The children's journey takes them outside the safety of the Liberty (a place that qualifies as a labyrinth) and into the maze (CC) of Nagspeak proper. Their investigation also takes them to the kidnappers and into some of the most overgrown, iron-rich areas.

All together, The Thief Knot is the tale of marginalized travelers trying to get a girl home by way of the maze.

Five stars

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