Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Urg, this book has me tied in knots. I never knew how anything was going to played out. Then you get all cozy, safe in your nest then WHAM! Nielsen knocks you out of whatever comfort zone you may have fallen in to and your racing against the clock with Nic as he fights his way out of another jam.
Nic is a young mine slave, working through the dark mines. One day Nic is forced into going into a sealed cavern. Then under a Griffin paw's a bulla that once belong to Julius Caesar, a bulla with locked magic that everyone in Rome wants and now Nic has just unlocked that magic. Everyone wants that power and Nic with his new unleashed magic for their dark purposes.
Jennifer A. Nielsen creates a world with brutal Rome with back-stabbers around every corner added to the mix magic. The play of magic wasn't very pronounced but enough to know there was a unknown danger waiting..
Nic was a a great mix of loyalty, bravery and a whole alot of snarky humor. He still tried to trust people even knowing they could easily stab him in the back. He at times did get on my nerves, when he felt he was to blame, when he wasn't and did at times play in the pity party when there wasn't time although I didn't blame him when his own world is falling apart.
The rest of the characters were great, some you loved to hate and a bad ass female character in Aurelia.
Even if this book messed and played with my emotions I still loved it to the end and looking forward to bk #2 Rise of the Wolf.