Thief of Lives picks up just a few months after the end of the book Dhampir. The inn that they had to burn down to get rid of Rashed and Teesha has now been rebuilt but the city of Miiska has also lost its most profitable warehouse that the vampires had run. Leesil still feels guilty for letting Ratboy get away in the fight and tries to smother out the memory or at least come to terms with it by training himself every morning at the very spot where the fight with Ratboy took place. Both wounded each severely in that fight and Leesil has vowed to never let something like that happen to him again. On the other hand Magiere feels a terrible guilt that she could have killed Leesil when he offered his own blood to save her life. She can not forget the feeling of his life freely flowing into her and know that he would willingly give it all to her if she had need of it. She too has vowed that it would never happen again.
Two people in pain and guilt that are trying to get on with their lives when they are force to see what is going on around them. Miiska’s economy is dieing and it is the direct fault or consequence of Magiere and Leesil when they burned down the towns largest warehouse. With that one building gone there are now many that are unemployed and the other warehouses are taking advantage of this by slashing wages and making people work for next to nothing. They know they can get away with this since there is no other places for the workers to go. Already several families have started to leave town and if something isn’t done it could ruin the town for a very long time. It is the state of the town’s economy that had the town council coming around to try and collect the back taxes that are on the inn that Magiere and Leesil own and run. In a way it a ruse to get the two to do something that will guarantee the towns future.
Magiere is furious and doesn’t know what to do. She didn’t know how bad things really were till she had to deal with one of the other warehouses that were left on the dock side of town. The owner of the warehouse was actually trying to charge her more for what she had already paid for. On top of that she gets the news about the taxes which turns anger into guilt ridden anger. This is actually what the council wants as they have received a proposal from Bela, the capital city of the nation of Belaski. That city has a problem and the similarities of the victims are like that of what were found in Miiska. Bela’s city council has been informed that there is a hunter of the dead and they have sent for her. They promise a very large sum of money and Miiska’s city council is using this to goad Magiere into doing the job. They tell her it would pay the inn’s taxes as well as help to build a community owned warehouse and let the city prosper once again is she would go fight Noble Dead in Bela.
Ratboy was known as Toret in another life and is using that name again in the city of Bela. He now has his own coven of vampires and finding out just how hard it can be to be in charge, what it is to make vampires that will serve him. He makes himself another Teesha in the form of Sapphire, a petty woman that loves to dress and act like a whore, thinking that is what it means to be a lady. She loves the new existance that Toret has given her and even though he can command her into total submission it is she that controls him. He is that enamored with her. Toret also has another servant, a young noble by the name of Chane Andraso. Chane is an excellent swordsman and a minor conjuror and wannabe scholar. Toret has been using Chane to teach him the art of the sword so that he can better protect himself. He doesn’t ever want to let happen what happened to him in the forest outside of Miiska ever again.
Welstiel Massing is going to make sure that Magiere does exactly what he wants her to do even if he has to show his true nature to her. He is playing everyone like chess pieces and is getting ready for the end game where he will have her and Leesil going after what he wants them to. Of course he will make it seem like it is their idea to do so, that is what the black coils of his dream has told him to do. The coils keep telling him to follow the sister of the dead before the enemy can succeed. He has been promised never to have to feed on the living ever again if an item is found that only Magiere can retrieve. He has worked so long and so hard to get to this point and will do anything no matter how distasteful to see that it is done. He would even dare to brutally murder the innocent daughter of a prominent noble and council member to see that what is needed is done. He need to keep Magiere hunting and knows there are vampires in the city. Since they are not sloppy enough to draw suspicion he will make sure that there is sloppy evidence to find and install fear.
Wynn Hygeorht is young and innocent of the ways of the world. All she has ever known was that of the Guild of Sages and would do anything for them as well as for her new found friend Chane. She has no idea what he is all she knows is that he has a thirst for knowledge like she has and loves to talk and be with her as they pour over some old manuscript of dusty old book. It is going to hurt her to the core when she finally sees him for what he is but it wont matter in the end what he is because she starts to see him in the same way that he sees her. The only real problem is neither sees it just yet and it will probably be too late when they finally admit to themselves and each other how they really actually feel. It is going to be something that will tear at even Magiere and Leesil along with their fay hound Chap.
This book smoothly flows from the first and helps to carry the story forward. Barb & J. C. Hendee have written it in a way that so that the reader would not have to had read the first one. The story stands on its own and gives enough backstory so that the reader knows what is happening from the past to the present in this book. For those that have read the first book Dhampir will be in for a real treat as they are able to see their favorite characters come to life again in ways that they might not have thought of. It shows a true growth to the characters and even creates new ones that we can grow to love and care about. Ones that will even be carried further along in the series and beyond.