Fire Thief (Fire Thief Series)

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Overview

Now available in paperback, The Fire Thief hilariously reimagines the myth of Prometheus, the Greek demigod who stole fire from the gods and gave it to the human race. To escape the gods' revenge, Prometheus travels through time to Eden City in 1858. There, he befriends a young orphan, actor, and petty criminal named Jim. When Jim runs into trouble with the law, Prometheus is torn — if he uses his powers to get his friend out of trouble, he will betray his hiding place to the gods. Terry Deary masterfully ...

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Overview

Now available in paperback, The Fire Thief hilariously reimagines the myth of Prometheus, the Greek demigod who stole fire from the gods and gave it to the human race. To escape the gods' revenge, Prometheus travels through time to Eden City in 1858. There, he befriends a young orphan, actor, and petty criminal named Jim. When Jim runs into trouble with the law, Prometheus is torn — if he uses his powers to get his friend out of trouble, he will betray his hiding place to the gods. Terry Deary masterfully interweaves two plots, with action jumping at a whirlwind pace from Mount Olympus to the seedy taverns and elegant mansions of Victorian Eden City. Packed with puns, wisecracks, and sarcastic footnotes, The Fire Thief turns Greek mythology into a laughing matter.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
At the beginning of time, the secret of how to make fire was known only by the gods. Prometheus, a Greek god, risked his life by daring to share the secret of creating fire with the human race. This book attempts to weave a fantasy tale about how the human race learned how to make fire and the consequences paid by Prometheus. The story tells of the struggle between two powerful Greek gods, Prometheus, who shares the secret of making fire and Zeus, who resents the deed and consequently punishes Prometheus. The author's language and sarcastic tone will be offensive and controversial to some. Today's concerns about developing character and diminishing violence may make this book less popular. The text is negative, focusing on seeking revenge upon those with whom you disagree. This is not a good model for adolescents. Readers who would be drawn to the book may not necessarily understand the subplot of the Gods versus the human race. Dreary has wriiten a satirical book that is probably too complex for the intended readers. 2005, Kingfisher/Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 9 to 12.
—Joe Ann Hinrichs
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-In highly irreverent fashion, Deary retells the myth of Prometheus as a time-travel adventure. After enduring 200 years of punishment for stealing fire from the gods, Prometheus has managed to kill the Avenging Fury. Before he can escape, however, Zeus issues a challenge: find one true hero. Prometheus travels into the future, with the resurrected Fury in pursuit, and arrives in a murky factory town in 1858. He falls in with a pair of itinerant thieves: a young orphan and his "Uncle" Edward. They gain admittance to wealthy homes, and while Uncle Edward stages a theatrical performance in the downstairs parlor, Jim steals valuables upstairs. The story switches back and forth from ancient Greece to 1858 until the two narratives come together as related by young Jim, who aspires to become a writer. He interrupts the story with footnoted asides that are often funny, but that slow the pace and add to an already complicated plot. Deary crams his tale with wordplay, zany characters, and allusions: Eden City, Dickens (including quotes from A Tale of Two Cities), a pathetic match girl hovering at death's door, and a mayor named Wallace Tweed, among others. The characters fail to develop beyond stereotypes, and the plot twists unroll all too predictably.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Deary takes a stab at extending the myth of Prometheus, carving a tale that, despite its satiric edge, manages to miss anything vital, such as an audience. Given a chance to escape the forcible daily removal of his liver while he searches for proof of this claim that humans can be as heroic as gods, Prometheus travels two million years forward, to a 19th-century Earth polluted by his gift of fire, but also corrupted by the "gifts" released from Pandora's box. Flying into Eden City on borrowed wings, he hooks up with a con man and his young sidekick Jim, helps to engineer a prison escape after a robbery goes wrong and then goes off to continue his quest-with a liver-loving Fury hot on his heels. Jim narrates, taking continual, tiresome delight in snarky authorial asides; the tale spins dizzyingly from one literary allusion to the next, changing tone abruptly as it moves through sophisticated comedy to broad burlesque, savagely lampooning the upper class, then ending with a superficially optimistic epilogue. Self-consciously Dickensian in cast and theme, this pastiche is likely to leave readers as confused as they are unimpressed. (Fiction. 12-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780753461181
  • Publisher: Kingfisher
  • Publication date: 4/18/2007
  • Series: The Fire Thief Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 640L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.04 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Deary is the author of over 160 books. He writes both fiction and nonfiction to much acclaim and has a hand in the television, theater, and radio worlds as well. His Horrible History series has sold twenty million copies worldwide, and his books have been translated into twenty-eight languages. Deary has won numerous awards, including Blue Peter's Best Nonfiction Author of the Century in the United Kingdom. He was named a Doctor of Education by Sunderland University.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Greece—the dawn of time

This is where my story begins. I wasn't there myself in ancient Greece, but one of the actors in this terrible tale told me the story, and I believe him. Let me tell you his story as if I was a writer—I've always wanted to be a writer.

Who am I? Wait and see. Let's start at the dawn of time . . .

The bird soared and wheeled in the cloudless sky over the silent earth.

Beneath it lay valleys of rich green and white-topped mountains. A crystal blue sea shone in the distance. A deep forest loomed beneath the monstrous bird, and from the heart of the darkness a smudge of smoke rose into the clean air.

"Ahh!" the bird growled. "Fire." It scented the sooty air and climbed away from it. Then it turned and arrowed toward a distant mountain. "Breakfast," it hissed, and then it swooped down. Rabbits froze, terrified as the bird's death shadow passed over them. The bird ignored them and let the warm air lift it up the mountainside.

As it climbed, the shimmering grass below gave way to gray, wind-scrubbed shrubs and then bare rocks, too bleak for even moss to grow.

The bird lifted its hooked beak and half closed its curved wings till it dropped toward one massive boulder. On the boulder lay a man. Windburned and sunbaked, he lay there as the bird's claws clattered against his rock and it skidded to a halt. "Oooops!" the bird croaked. "After all this time I'm still not good at landing."

Fine chains had sunk into the rocks, and they wrapped around the man's wrists and ankles. Fine links—but unbreakable.

The bird shook its gold-brown feathers, and its black eyes burned. "Good morning, Prometheus. I hope you slept well," the bird hissed.

The man smiled. His face was as handsome as a god. "I slept very well."

The bird blinked. "You seem cheerful," it snapped suspiciously.

"I slept well," the man cried. "And had such wonderful dreams! I dreamed of freedom."

"You don't deserve it," the bird snarled. "You stole fire from the gods, and you gave it to those crawling creatures they call humans. You sneaked it away,

hidden inside a reed—you are no better than some robber on the road." The bird began to screech and ruffle its feathers. "The humans will burn our world and choke us all with smoke. You deserve worse than death . . . Fire Thief."

Prometheus smiled again. "And I have a punishment worse than death, don't

I? My cousin Zeus chained me here in the sun and snow, in the wind and hail, always to suffer but never to die."

A big gray tongue rolled from the side of the bird's cruel beak. "And worse,

Prometheus, and worse. You have me. The Fury. The great Avenger of the gods."

The bird began to pant. "What am I going to do, Prometheus?"

Prometheus opened his eyes as wide as a baby. "Oh! I don't know! What have you done every day for the last two hundred years, Fury? You have used your little beak to peck into my side and pull out my liver. You have killed me every morning for one hundred years. And every night I return to life to suffer again the next dawn."

"I don't peck," the bird snarled. "I tear."

"Feels like a peck to me," Prometheus said with a sad shake of his head.

The Fury was furious. "I don't pull your liver—I rip and rive it from your body."

"Feels like a little tug to me," the man shrugged, and the chains rattled against the rock.

The bird's claws clattered as it stamped angrily. "I wish Zeus would let me tear out your lying tongue and your laughing eyes," it screeched.

"Sorry, just my little old liver," the man sighed. "Come closer, Fury."

The bird froze. "What?"

"I want to tell you about my dream."

"Why would I want to hear your dream? You'll be dreaming the dreams of the dead in a moment when I tear and rip your body."

"Ah, it was such a dream, though. The sort of a dream you have once in two hundred years," the man murmured.

The bird edged closer. It wiped its beak against the cold rock to sharpen the tip. "Lift your head, Prometheus," the bird screeched. "Look at the valley.

That smoke down there choked me this morning. Smoke from the fires that

YOU gave to those pitiful human animals. Your liver will taste all the better this morning."

The bird lunged at the man's side. The hand of Prometheus slipped free of the chain and grasped the bird by the neck. It gave a startled squawk. Its black eyes bulged, and its body struggled. But the more its body writhed, the more its neck ached.

"I haven't finished telling you about my dream," the man said, and his voice was as soft as his hand was hard. "In my dream my friend Hercules came up the mountain. He is the strongest creature in the world. Stronger than me."

Prometheus sighed and squeezed the feathered neck a little harder. "Stronger than you. And Hercules snapped my chains like they were made out of grass. Just like I am going to snap your neck now."

The bird writhed and croaked. "You said it was a dream."

"I lied," Prometheus said with a laugh. "I still have friends." He squeezed again. "Strong friends, like Hercules. Good friends who think that I was unfairly treated. Friends who sent Hercules to set me free last night."

"A dream, you said!"

"A dream come true."

"Zeus will never let you escape," the bird gasped. "No matter where you try to hide on this earth, he will find you."

Prometheus shrugged and shook off the broken chains. "Maybe I won't hide in this world," he murmured. He squeezed. There was a crunch of broken bone, a small sigh, and the monstrous bird hung limp in the man's hands. He flung it away from him in disgust, its cruel beak and curved claws clattering on the cool rock.

Prometheus rose and stretched. The world lay beneath him. He set off down the mountainside, his legs stiff from 200 years of chains. He felt like he was being watched. He stopped and looked back. The eyes of the monstrous bird were dull and dead. He squinted up into the morning sun and saw a shadow cross it. The shadow of a long-necked bird. A swan.

The young man closed his eyes for a moment and groaned. "Zeus," he hissed. "Zeus." He looked for somewhere to hide. But on the bleak, bare mountain there was nowhere at all.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

    I think kids between the ages of 4th to 8th grade would love this book. It is short and easy to read and the footnotes are hilarious. <BR/><BR/>It begins at the dawn of time with Prometheus, who is chained to a rock because he brought fire to humankind. Theus, for short, was a titan and Zeus, the king of the Gods, made sure that he never forgot what he did. Every morning while chained to the rock, a fury would come and tear out his liver. Of course by nightfall Theus would be alive again. Well, when we start the story, Hercules has arrived and helped Theus escape. Zeus discovers this and challenges Theus to find a hero among the humans. If he does he will be forgiven. <BR/><BR/>Theus sets out and crosses time to 1858 and lands in the murky city known as Eden City. Eden City is very Dickens-like. It is full of zany characters, poor people, rich fiends, and thrilling situations. There Theus meets Jim, an orphan, who has fallen in with a diabolical thief, Uncle Edward. He gets involved with their caper and within twenty-four hours all of the characters lives have changed for the better. <BR/><BR/>Terry Deary, while teaching about Greek mythology, has written a story that is exciting and funny -- which is a wonderful combination. This is the first of three books in THE FIRE THIEF series, and I need to go finish the second one. Go pick up a copy of THE FIRE THIEF. You won't be sorry.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    I think kids between the ages of 4th to 8th grade would love this book. It is short and easy to read and the footnotes are hilarious. It begins at the dawn of time with Prometheus, who is chained to a rock because he brought fire to humankind. Theus, for short, was a titan and Zeus, the king of the Gods, made sure that he never forgot what he did. Every morning while chained to the rock, a fury would come and tear out his liver. Of course by nightfall Theus would be alive again. Well, when we start the story, Hercules has arrived and helped Theus escape. Zeus discovers this and challenges Theus to find a hero among the humans. If he does he will be forgiven. Theus sets out and crosses time to 1858 and lands in the murky city known as Eden City. Eden City is very Dickens-like. It is full of zany characters, poor people, rich fiends, and thrilling situations. There Theus meets Jim, an orphan, who has fallen in with a diabolical thief, Uncle Edward. He gets involved with their caper and within twenty-four hours all of the characters lives have changed for the better. Terry Deary, while teaching about Greek mythology, has written a story that is exciting and funny -- which is a wonderful combination. This is the first of three books in THE FIRE THIEF series, and I need to go finish the second one. Go pick up a copy of THE FIRE THIEF. You won't be sorry. **Reviewed by: Marta Morrison

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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