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Readers clamoring for magical tales will enjoy Prineas's fast-paced first novel, the opener of a promising trilogy. Conn-waer, a preteen pickpocket, steals the locus magicalicus from the most revered and powerful wizard in the city of Wellmet. Recently returned from banishment, Nevery Flinglas is not angered by the boy's thievery, just surprised the stone's power didn't kill the orphan. Accordingly, Nevery takes him on as a potential apprentice and offers him refuge in his crumbling home. Soon, Conn must enroll in wizard school, find his own magical stone and help his master determine the cause of Wellmet's diminishing magic while avoiding some unsavory characters. Prineas depicts Conn, the narrator, as refreshingly candid and a quick study while revealing Nevery as insightful and unexpectedly caring. Interspersed throughout and printed to look like facsimiles, Nevery's journal entries and correspondence offer intriguing counterpoint to Conn's perspective; sketches of characters and places, incorporated on the first page of each chapter, also lighten the lengthy text. The magical fireworks do not explode until the end, leaving readers confident that Prineas will turn up the heat in the next installment. Ages 10-up. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.