The Devils Thief

The Devil's Thief

Synopsis

A Reading Group Guide to

The Last Magician #2: The Devil’s Thief

By Lisa Maxwell

About the Book

Esta’s parents were murdered, and her life was stolen. Everything she knew about magic was a lie. She believed the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she had ever imagined. Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world for revenge, and it will use Esta to do so. To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is nothing like they’ve expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink who are unwilling to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them. In St. Louis, the extravagant world’s fair hides the first stone. But an old enemy is out for revenge, and a new enemy is emerging. As past and future collide, time is running out for rewriting history—even for a time-traveling thief.

Discussion Questions

1. Reread the first five paragraphs of the book and discuss how the author uses them to preview some of the book’s themes. What are some of those themes? What glimpses do we get of Esta’s character and her motivations? What do we see of her relationship with Harte, the Magician?

2. From the first page, it’s clear that one of the book’s themes is new beginnings. Name all the characters embarking on a new venture or journey. Why are they starting over? Do you think this is a positive action for each of them? Where do they find the strength and bravery to make this kind of change?

3. Who are the main characters? Discuss what motivates each of them. For example, of Esta, the author writes, “vengeance . . . stiffened her resolve and kept her feet moving.” Is vengeance the only thing that guides Esta’s actions? Are other characters also motivated by vengeance? Who are they, and what or who are they trying to avenge?

4. Why do you think stories about magic remain popular? Which of the characters’ affinities would you most like to have? Which is the most useful? The most dangerous? The most powerful?

5. When Harte says, “‘Nothing about my affinity has made me happy,’” do you understand what he means? In contrast, Jianyu allows himself “to relax into the comfort of his magic.” How do you think the other characters feel? Are they happy to have affinities, or are they burdened by them? Do they think it comes with a sense of duty and responsibility?

6. Talk about the parallels between this world’s fear and prejudice against the Mageus, and the modern-day discussion about immigration in America. Why do you think people fear and hate those who are different? How might you talk to them about their views?

7. What changed for the Mageus after the Defense Against Magic Act was passed? Do you understand why people who had been living quietly in hiding would now want to challenge the Order? What would you do if you were in their place?

8. Viola “believed that duty to family was more important than her own soul.” What causes her to change her mind? Compare Viola’s thoughts about family to Jack’s when he thinks, “There was a safety in fealty that he had failed to understand and freedom in the constraints of family duty that he had not appreciated as a boy.” Discuss the complicated feelings they both have about their families. Do these feelings impact their actions?

9. Discuss the other family situations in the book. Think about Harte and his mother, Ruth and Maggie, Cela and Abel, and Jianyu and his parents. How many of them feel like they don’t belong with their families? What kind of role do their pasts play in their current motivations?

10. “Never Enough” is the title of one of the St. Louis chapters. Talk about the many ways this phrase applies to the characters.

11. To the Antistasi, the Devil’s Thief is a symbol to rally behind. Discuss the idea of “propaganda of the deed”—taking actions that will serve as an example for others and as a catalyst for change. Do you believe this works? Can you think of examples from the real world? Do you believe the Antistasi’s motives are pure, or that they all want to “stand above the rest with power of their own,” as Ruth thinks?

12. Why do you think the author chose to use alternate points of view? Why is it important for this story to be told by multiple narrators? Did you like this technique? Explain your answer. Talk about how the story might have read if Esta was the only narrator.

13. Esta wants to kill Jack after he finds her and Harte at the train station, but Harte disagrees, saying, “‘If you kill him in cold blood, it will change you.’” Which philosophy do you think is right? Does the act of killing someone change the killer? If so, how? Do you think this applies to Viola, who can so easily stop someone’s heart? Is it a strength or a weakness to show restraint, even against someone who has done evil things?

14. Esta has “trained her whole life to be a weapon.” Viola’s brother considers Viola to be his weapon, and Ruth uses Maggie in much the same way. What might have led these female characters to feel as if they needed to become weapons? How does Viola feel about her brother? How does Maggie feel about Ruth?

15. Nibsy thinks, “Humans were no more than animals, driven by their hungers and fears. Easily manipulated. Predictable.” Do you agree with him? What scenes do you see in the book that prove or disprove his thinking?

16. Nibsy’s notebook shows him his future. Esta, too, knows something of the future and that she has “little hope of walking out of this alive.” Discuss the impact of knowing your future. If you had the chance, would you want to know yours? Would this knowledge make you braver or more fearful?

17. Esta’s affinity is weakened by the power inside Harte. She thinks she “couldn’t—wouldn’t—allow her current weakness to be a liability.” Why is it important to Esta not to show or experience weakness? Do the other Mageus also feel this way? Do you think it’s connected to their affinities?

18. Talk about what freedom means to each of the characters. Esta thinks “she would gladly take the danger” to have the kind of freedom the Antistasi are working toward. Viola dreams of freedom beyond the drudgery of her family life. Can you sympathize with them? What kind of freedom would you like to have? Do you think freedom is something people can take for granted?

19. This book is full of cinematic scenes. Think about how the author weaves character-driven moments with action. Do you think the most important moments of character development coincide with the most climactic scenes? Explain your answer and why you think the author may have made these decisions.

20. Cela talks to Jianyu about the idea that there is something wrong with their land because “the people who were here first—the ones who truly belong here—got killed off or pushed aside, and that does something to a place, all that death and violence.” What do you think about that idea? Can you think of some examples from our world where this has happened or continues to happen, or is this idea more suited to a world with magic in it?

Extension Activities

1. Who do you think is the main character in the book? Write an essay supporting your answer using details from the story.

2. Choose one of the story’s themes and trace it throughout the book. Then write an essay about how the author supports that theme through plot, character, setting, and style. Make sure to give examples from the text.

3. Harte says that Julien “taught me how important it is not to lose the heart of who you are when you’re becoming someone else.” How does this statement apply to both of them? Use this idea as the basis for an essay that compares and contrasts these two characters.

4. Choose a chapter from the book that you find especially interesting or meaningful, and rewrite it as a scene from a movie or a play. What are some of the differences you find between writing a movie or a play versus a book?

5. When Viola and Theo tried to rescue Ruby to keep her safe, she thought: “Safe? What was safety but a cage?” Write an opinion essay about whether you agree or disagree with this statement, and why. Can you relate this sentiment to a personal experience, or one from another book you’ve read?

6. The St. Louis World’s Fair was an important cultural event. Do some preliminary research about the fair, and then choose an interesting aspect to research further. Share your findings with your class and see if your discussion helps to re-create some of the magic, innovation, and influence of the global event. Was there anything that surprised you? Does knowing the history behind the fair add to your reading of the story?

7. Observing Ruth, Harte thought, “The line between belief and zealotry was often a fragile one, indistinct and prone to crumble when examined too closely.” Define the words belief and zealotry. As a class, brainstorm a list of times in history when the link between belief and zealotry crumbled, and think about why that may have happened. Then choose an incident or time period from the list and write a report looking at the impact.

Guide written by Bobbie Combs, a consultant at We Love Children's Books.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Chapters

  • 001 DevilsThief Title
    Duration: 16s
  • 002 DevilsThief TheThief
    Duration: 08min
  • 003 DevilsThief TheWhiteLady
    Duration: 18min
  • 004 DevilsThief TheBoweryOfFire
    Duration: 16min
  • 005 DevilsThief TheTruthAboutPower
    Duration: 07min
  • 006 DevilsThief Sanctuary
    Duration: 12min
  • 007 DevilsThief CommonRabble
    Duration: 14min
  • 008 DevilsThief BloodandWater
    Duration: 18min
  • 009 DevilsThief MotherOfExiles
    Duration: 17min
  • 010 DevilsThief TheArsArcana
    Duration: 10min
  • 011 DevilsThief TheSiren
    Duration: 07min
  • 012 DevilsThief ABrushOfMagic
    Duration: 06min
  • 013 DevilsThief TheNewBrighton
    Duration: 18min
  • 014 DevilsThief ASerpentsSmile
    Duration: 15min
  • 015 DevilsThief AVisionOfLightAndPower
    Duration: 11min
  • 016 DevilsThief TheChoice
    Duration: 17min
  • 017 DevilsThief WallacksTheatre
    Duration: 08min
  • 018 DevilsThief AHeartFullOfTrouble
    Duration: 02min
  • 019 DevilsThief EmptyStreets
    Duration: 09min
  • 020 DevilsThief ItCouldBeWorse
    Duration: 17min
  • 021 DevilsThief SomeDistantStation
    Duration: 11min
  • 022 DevilsThief Surfacing
    Duration: 19min
  • 023 DevilsThief ANewCity
    Duration: 14min
  • 024 DevilsThief Infamous
    Duration: 18min
  • 025 DevilsThief TheAntidoteForGossip
    Duration: 17min
  • 026 DevilsThief Consequences
    Duration: 20min
  • 027 DevilsThief ASkyDarkAndStarless
    Duration: 17min
  • 028 DevilsThief ThePocketwatch
    Duration: 05min
  • 029 DevilsThief DustAndMetal
    Duration: 08min
  • 030 DevilsThief ATurningOfTheTides
    Duration: 05min
  • 031 DevilsThief MockDuck
    Duration: 11min
  • 032 DevilsThief MotherRuth
    Duration: 11min
  • 033 DevilsThief TheRiskOfMagic
    Duration: 18min
  • 034 DevilsThief TheHandsOfJustice
    Duration: 06min
  • 035 DevilsThief TheTrader
    Duration: 09min
  • 036 DevilsThief IntoTheFire
    Duration: 11min
  • 037 DevilsThief BewareTheDevilsThief
    Duration: 19min
  • 038 DevilsThief AnUnexpectedChallenge
    Duration: 06min
  • 039 DevilsThief Responsibilities
    Duration: 07min
  • 040 DevilsThief MissedOpportunities
    Duration: 06min
  • 041 DevilsThief Delmonicos
    Duration: 21min
  • 042 DevilsThief Reasonable
    Duration: 13min
  • 043 DevilsThief KingSaloon
    Duration: 17min
  • 044 DevilsThief Unexpected
    Duration: 17min
  • 045 DevilsThief AFineSpecimenOfManhood
    Duration: 19min
  • 046 DevilsThief TheSociety
    Duration: 09min
  • 047 DevilsThief TheSecretsOfTheBook
    Duration: 07min
  • 048 DevilsThief UnexplainedDarkness
    Duration: 12min
  • 049 DevilsThief Poppies
    Duration: 14min
  • 050 DevilsThief CloseQuarters
    Duration: 14min
  • 051 DevilsThief UnexpectedBenefits
    Duration: 11min
  • 052 DevilsThief Furious
    Duration: 07min
  • 053 DevilsThief TheWoman
    Duration: 10min
  • 054 DevilsThief TheRemainsOfWhatHadBeen
    Duration: 04min
  • 055 DevilsThief TooLate
    Duration: 09min
  • 056 DevilsThief Discarded
    Duration: 06min
  • 057 DevilsThief TheSiren
    Duration: 09min
  • 058 DevilsThief TheExposition
    Duration: 23min
  • 059 DevilsThief MappingTheFair
    Duration: 05min
  • 060 DevilsThief TheDjinnisStar
    Duration: 11min
  • 061 DevilsThief TheStreetsOfCairo
    Duration: 19min
  • 062 DevilsThief NeverEnough
    Duration: 06min
  • 063 DevilsThief InvisibleEnergy
    Duration: 08min
  • 064 DevilsThief TheVeiledProphet
    Duration: 09min
  • 065 DevilsThief TheMemoryOfHerName
    Duration: 13min
  • 066 DevilsThief OnTheEdgeOfTheWest
    Duration: 03min
  • 067 DevilsThief ANewEraInTheBowery
    Duration: 14min
  • 068 DevilsThief ALandSoakedInBlood
    Duration: 14min
  • 069 DevilsThief TheMapOfTheWorld
    Duration: 01min
  • 070 DevilsThief ThePike
    Duration: 05min
  • 071 DevilsThief TheWeightOfBelonging
    Duration: 06min
  • 072 DevilsThief NotAsPlanned
    Duration: 09min
  • 073 DevilsThief BreakingAndEntering
    Duration: 04min
  • 074 DevilsThief Sashat
    Duration: 13min
  • 075 DevilsThief TheUnmaking
    Duration: 08min
  • 076 DevilsThief Discovered
    Duration: 06min
  • 077 DevilsThief OnlyEmptiness
    Duration: 10min
  • 078 DevilsThief ThePresidentsMan
    Duration: 03min
  • 079 DevilsThief TheReturn
    Duration: 16min
  • 080 DevilsThief TheBrewery
    Duration: 16min
  • 081 DevilsThief BenedictO'Doherty
    Duration: 04min
  • 082 DevilsThief JustAGirl
    Duration: 02min
  • 083 DevilsThief Outmatched
    Duration: 04min
  • 084 DevilsThief TheSecretOnOrchardStreet
    Duration: 04min
  • 085 DevilsThief TheDrop
    Duration: 10min
  • 086 DevilsThief TheBethesdaFountain
    Duration: 09min
  • 087 DevilsThief ABiddableGirl
    Duration: 08min
  • 088 DevilsThief TheSWP
    Duration: 16min
  • 089 DevilsThief TheLake
    Duration: 10min
  • 090 DevilsThief TheDifferenceBetween
    Duration: 14min
  • 091 DevilsThief TheOpportuneMoment
    Duration: 03min
  • 092 DevilsThief TheCuff
    Duration: 06min
  • 093 DevilsThief It'sQuietUptown
    Duration: 06min
  • 094 DevilsThief NightWalking
    Duration: 10min
  • 095 DevilsThief AChoiceInTheMatter
    Duration: 06min
  • 096 DevilsThief TheAftermath
    Duration: 05min
  • 097 DevilsThief Ferrara's
    Duration: 09min
  • 098 DevilsThief TheNewlyWoken
    Duration: 10min
  • 099 DevilsThief Libitina
    Duration: 08min
  • 100 DevilsThief AFinalGambit
    Duration: 05min
  • 101 DevilsThief ABlindRushOfFear
    Duration: 06min
  • 102 DevilsThief IntoTheFire
    Duration: 06min
  • 103 DevilsThief APionyInATomatoPatch
    Duration: 05min
  • 104 DevilsThief DraggedUnder
    Duration: 07min
  • 105 DevilsThief Helpless
    Duration: 09min
  • 106 DevilsThief Denial
    Duration: 05min
  • 107 DevilsThief CloseToTheSurface
    Duration: 02min
  • 108 DevilsThief ThreatsAndPromises
    Duration: 03min
  • 109 DevilsThief Disillusioned
    Duration: 02min
  • 110 DevilsThief TheRiver
    Duration: 11min
  • 111 DevilsThief UntilTheEnd
    Duration: 13min
  • 112 DevilsThief TableauxVivantes
    Duration: 11min
  • 113 DevilsThief OnceMore
    Duration: 04min
  • 114 DevilsThief Marooned
    Duration: 01min
  • 115 DevilsThief Preparations
    Duration: 07min
  • 116 DevilsThief TheDevilInside
    Duration: 07min
  • 117 DevilsThief TheGala
    Duration: 06min
  • 118 DevilsThief BeforeTheStorm
    Duration: 02min
  • 119 DevilsThief AnOldEnemy
    Duration: 11min
  • 120 DevilsThief CollateralDamage
    Duration: 11min
  • 121 DevilsThief NothingToForgive
    Duration: 06min
  • 122 DevilsThief Basta
    Duration: 05min
  • 123 DevilsThief AReunionOfSorts
    Duration: 01min
  • 124 DevilsThief TheRightTime
    Duration: 07min
  • 125 DevilsThief TheAlchemist
    Duration: 04min
  • 126 DevilsThief ABrushOfMagic
    Duration: 03min
  • 127 DevilsThief TheVeiledProphetsBall
    Duration: 07min
  • 128 DevilsThief Hungry
    Duration: 14min
  • 129 DevilsThief TheCurtainPulledBack
    Duration: 02min
  • 130 DevilsThief Circe
    Duration: 06min
  • 131 DevilsThief WhatLivedInside
    Duration: 02min
  • 132 DevilsThief Seshat'sReturn
    Duration: 13min
  • 133 DevilsThief TheNightmareComeToLife
    Duration: 07min
  • 134 DevilsThief TheFlashOfAKnife
    Duration: 04min
  • 135 DevilsThief AMonstrousChaos
    Duration: 02min
  • 136 DevilsThief NeverEnough
    Duration: 02min
  • 137 DevilsThief TheDagger
    Duration: 02min
  • 138 DevilsThief Sleepwalking
    Duration: 04min
  • 139 DevilsThief Discedo
    Duration: 02min
  • 140 DevilsThief Redite
    Duration: 57s
  • 141 DevilsThief Author'sNote
    Duration: 09min
  • 142 DevilsThief Credits
    Duration: 40s

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