Boy howdy. I loved this book. Very much the sort of fantasy I enjoy reading. By mistake, I picked up book three, while believing it was book one (not having a memory of book one's cover, I overlooked the significance of the word FOUND on the cover in my book-selecting frenzy - silly me). Once home, I realized by looking at the first pages that I had skipped searching for The Magic Thief and The Magic Thief: Lost, and jumped to the end of the trilogy.
However, happily, Ms. Prineas was kind enough to let Conn have the occasional flashback, and I soon fit right in to his world, gleaning relevant facts from books one and two. I had the oddest impression that the first bit of the story, where Conn lurks in the dark, waiting to pick Nevery's pocket, was perhaps a throwback to the beginning of book one. Whether or not this is the case, I did pick up a lovely sense of cycle and repetition that in no way overwhelmed the narrative, and instead gave it excellent touches of continuity and closure (see beginning and end of book for a good example).
The concepts in this book were amazingly entertaining. What is magic? Where does it come from? How do cities begin? What is Arhionvar, and what is its motive? Why has Wellmet always been so divided? (this wasn't ever stated outright, and might have been touched on in earlier books, but there were plenty of delicate hints in this book to make me believe that there was more than just a cultural divide where the river flowed)
While Conn is the youngest character in the book, he's crucial to the plot, not least of which is in his interconnectivity between various disparate groups of adults. Without him, they'd never speak to each other or learn different perspectives. He is the medium through which the book's plot unfolds, and he personifies communication, despite the fact that he's notorious for not speaking at all.
Conn's character was in full flower in this third book, and I found him amazingly consistent and true to himself. This is a strong point of the author, I see, as her other major characters are easily recognized by their behaviour and attitude as much as by their appearance or location. Strong characters always make me love a book, along with brain-fizzingly awesome magical concepts and strong settings. Kerrn, Nevery and Benet were favorites. The little dragon, Pip, was the least developed, most likely because it couldn't communicate, and thus felt pretty random as an addition to the plot. It struck me as little more than a device to make Conn's magic sporadic throughout the remainder of the book.
The pages that were notes from one character to another were an entertaining addition, and I enjoyed seeing the characters' personalities come through in their own writing. Way to get around the single-perspective limitation that first person POV brings. Personally, I heartily dislike first-person for precisely this reason: it's so limiting, like a baldly artificial attempt to draw out the story simply by withholding information from the only character whose perspective the reader is exposed to. However, the connection with younger readers is fostered by this more direct link to a character's inner thoughts, so there is a positive trade-off. But it's my firm opinion that first-person POV isn't something an author outside of YA/MG/romance genres needs to use. (You see what I did there.)
Happily giving The Magic Thief: Found five of five stars, for including a great set of literary tools, and not overdoing any of them. Excellent balance, superb storytelling.