The Thief Lord

By Cornelia Funke

Novel Study by Bruno Koloska

Journal Entry #1

Pages 1 - 30

Dec. 3/10

I selected the novel The Thief Lord because the title struck me as ironic. Why would there be a lord of thieves? Is he a lord, as in rules over other thieves, or just a very talented thief? All of these questions inticed me, and i decided to choose it for my Independent Novel Study. Before I really committed to reading the novel, I needed to know who the author was, and what other books she had published. If she had written another book that I liked, I would assume that I would like this book also. It turns out that she had written Dragon Rider, a book that i had particularly enjoyed.

As the story began, I noticed that an omniscient narrator had taken a place in the story. There was no 'I'. The narrator knew much of all that was happening, and said things like "little did he know", which signals that the narrator knows of what is going to happen next. The first sentence of the book gave the setting: Venice, in autumn. This setting is important because, as was revealed later in the book, it was nearing winter and the children (Prosper and Bo) were without a home.

The first sentence also gave three character names, the main characters: Victor, a detective; a boy named Prosper, and his little brother Boniface, or Bo. As the story continued, with Victor sitting in his office, some clients needing the aid of Victor's profession came through the door, and gave Victor the job of locating the two boys. At the moment, their motive for finding the children is unknown, but they do mention that the children are not theirs, but their sister's (or in the husband's case, sister-in-law). This presents another couple mysteries: why are they looking for the children of the children are not theirs? And what happened to their mother?
These questions are unanswered in the pages that I read.

The first problem faced by the main character was where to live, now that they had arrived in Venice. Prosper and Bo had been told all kinds of stories of Venice by their mystery mother, and therefore decided to go there. The Thief Lord found the both of them and brought them to live with him and several other teenagers and young children, also with no homes, in an abandoned movie theatre.

The first 30 pages of the book were very interesting and captivating. Lots of unanswered questions are floating around at the moment, and I want to see them answered.


Journal Entry #2
Pages 31-73

As I continued to read The Thief Lord, the author, Cornelia Funke, had me hooked. The detective, looking for the two children, Prosper and Bo, was starting his search. Looking around Venice, he doesn't find the children or get a tip-off just yet.

Switching back to the children, the return of the Thief Lord (a teenager named Scipio) from his most recent theft brought jewels and golden cutlery. The most emphasized fruit of the burglary was a golden pair of sugar tongs, which also had numerous rubies and diamonds littering its handle. At first, nobody aside from the Thief Lord knows what they are. When the teenage master burglar told them what the precious item was, almost all of them wondered why rich people needed things like this.

However, the problem of how they will sell them stood in their way. Though they did have a caterer to sell things to, a man named Barbossa, none of the children liked nor trusted him, and thought that they would get cheated out of their treasure.

This problem is solved when Bo speaks up and says Prosper was good at selling things, using the flea market back at their unknown mother's neighborhood. Bo mentioned that Prosper would put on a "stony face" and start putting the item of interest away again.

Seeing Prosper's potential, Scipio sends him to sell the tongs and the rest of their treasure also. Prosper sells all of the burgled items at a high, high price of four hundred thousand lire. Lire is the currency of Venice. As he leaves, Barbarossa, the the untrustworthy, selfish shopkeep of the store who Prosper sold the items to, says to tell the Thief Lord (Barbarossa knows of the Thief Lord, but nothing other than that he exists) that one of his clients has a job for him. Prosper tells him that he will ask the Thief Lord about it.

Unexpectedly, as Prosper heads 'home' to the movie theater, he buys things to keep the children going, and splurges somewhat, buying a cake. Close to the theater, Prosper notices that a man was staring at him strangely. Making a snap decision, he runs at full tilt in the opposite direction of the theater in hopes of the man following him. The man is Victor, and he had been looking at the photo of Prosper and Bo as he sipped his coffee. When Prosper appeared right in front of him, he gave chase.

Prosper's plan worked perfectly, and he lost the detective by weaving in and out of alleys, and losing him by taking a boat across to the other side of Venice (remember, Venice floats on the water).

So far, the story is easy to follow, mostly because of the omniscient narrator. If not for him, Prosper would be running from a completely unknown man that appeared out of nowhere and started chasing him. Here, the book is starting to escalate.

However, the same questions from pages 1-30 stay unanswered. Hopefully they will be answered soon.

Please write out the questions you are answering from the list.

Journal Entry #3
Pages 74-161

The book continues, and as it does, it introduces ever more aspects. The Thief Lord, Scipio, is meeting up with Barbarossa's client, the Conte, to negotiate and be briefed on what he is to steal. He is given a pigeon, a homing pigeon, in a box to communicate with the Conte.

Victor is still on the trail of the two boys, and decides to subtly interrogate Bo, as he is small, innocent, and should yield information on the children's whereabouts. Luring Bo by having pigeons land on his sleeves, he asks him subtle questions. Bo tells him of the hiding spot in the movie theater, but not which one. Victor is hesitant in believing him. Hornet, a girl who is one of the children hiding in the theater, is suspicious of the disguised Victor, and takes Bo away from him, but not before Victor snapped a picture of Bo. Quickly changing disguises, he pursues the children as the weave through the alleys. (Scipio was still meeting with the Conte when Bo was talking with Victor, but has now regrouped with the others.) After Hornet mentions that she thinks the tourist was the detective, Bo mentions that the 'tourist's' name was Victor. As the group is now certain that the "tourist" was Victor, they question Bo as to what Victor asked Bo. The children hatch a plan to get back at the detective and escape him. They swap clothing, and go off in different directions.

Prosper and Bo stay in the shop that they were in when they realized Victor was after them. Hornet and Riccio (another one of the children) go off in exactly opposite directions. Then Scipio distracts Victor, and leaves. Hornet returns to the shop, and she, Prosper and Bo all leave in the same direction. Then, as Victor makes to follow them, Hornet breaks off from Prosper and Bo, and pretends like Victor is harassing her. Victor recieves a beatdown from bystanders, and Hornet takes his wallet. All the children get away safely.

More and more children from the movie hideout get a part in this book. Riccio, Hornet and another, called Mosca, are all introduced a few chapters after Prosper, Bo, and Victor.

Victor decides to take what Bo said seriously, and tries to find abandoned movie theaters that could serve as a possible hiding place for the children. To do so, he phones Dottor Massimo, who owns many theaters. After arranging a meeting, he finds that a movie theater called the Stella is a hiding place for the children. As he continues to speak with Dottor Massimo, Scipio walks in! It turns out that he is not, in fact, homeless. Victor recognizes him, and as Dottor Massimo leaves to meet with important clients, Victor corners Scipio. Scipio escapes, and immediately rushes back to the hideout. He tells the children that they have to leave, now. Just as they're packing up, Hornet gets a crazy idea, but we don't know what it is yet.

Victor breaks in to the theater, and searches. He is then jumped by the kids and locked in a washroom of the theater. The story stays with the children for a while, and as Victor is talking with the children (tied up of course) he tells them that their Thief Lord is not all he seems, and tells them to go to a certain address, where they will find out more about him.

The children go, and inevitably find that Scipio is indeed not homeless. The children have a big fight with Scipio, and realize that he has never taken anything from anyone's house other than his father's, who is very rich and owns the house Scipio lives in. They decide to leave him for a while, and go back to the hideout.

This is where I stopped reading.

This book seems very fit for adolescents and teens to read. It's comical, has a simple yet many-layered plot, and is intriguing. If the book was aimed at adults, there would be more difficult language, and probably less characters. However, each character would be explained in depth.

Journal Entry #4
Pages 162-250

The children start heading home, and as they do, Victor is escaping and leaving a note that says he will not tell the Hartliebs (Prosper and Bo's aunt and uncle) as long as he doesn't hear about any strange break-ins in the next couple weeks (he knows of the plan to break in to a house and steal something).
The children discover Victor's message, but decide to go ahead with the robbery anyway, without Scipio. Prosper says that he and Bo will not go along on the robbery. That night, Prosper wakes to find that they had all left on the robbery. Including Bo. He immediately got up, and ran to the address of the house that they were going to rob. Reaching the house, he immediately sees Hornet, and asks her frantically why they took Bo along. Hornet replies that they didn't, but that Bo had followed them and threatened to wake up the entire block if they didn't take him along. As they search the place, they unexpectedly bump into Scipio, who is also robbing the place. Riccio and Scipio have an argument, which Riccio wins by reminding Scipio that they have the pigeon, the only way to communicate with the Conte. The children continue to search the house. Scipio goes upstairs to look for the wing. After searching the entire first floor, they conclude that the wing, the strange request of the Conte, is upstairs. Suddenly, the children are surprised by the owner of the house who is in turn surprised by Scipio, who came down the stairs after finding the wing. The children explain that they were going to take the wing to a client for lots of money, five million lire. Then the owner of the house, Ida Spavento, asks the children their client's name. Mosca says that he calls himself the Conte. She tells the kids to stay put, telling them that she will tell them a story involving the wing, and a mysterious merry-go-round.
Ida Spavento tells them a story of a merry-go-round that could turn back or turn forward time on people if they rode it. It was given as a present to an orphanage. However, after only a few weeks, the merry-go-round was stolen. In their hurry, the thieves had left something behind: the wing, which is actually a lion's wing (winged lions are traditionally seen in Venice). Ida assumes that the Conte knows where the merry-go-round is and that it doesn't work without the wing. She also says that she lived in the orphanage, and was given the wing by a sister (a nun) there.
The children make a deal with Ida to give the Conte the wing and then follow him when he leaves to find out where the merry-go-round is.

The conflict between Ida and the children is solved when they talk it out, and Ida decides to give them a break, let them take the wing and give it to the Conte. However, she assumes that the Conte knows where the merry-go-round is, and since she so loved the story of the merry-go-round, she wanted to see it for the first time.

The climax of the novel is when the children find the wing, and Ida Spavento tell them the story. They have been after the wing for many chapters, and finally finding it makes it climax-worthy.

The children send the pigeon to the Conte, and await the reply.

Prosper visits Barbarossa's shop again the next day. The Conte had left his reply with him, and Barbarossa asks what exactly he wanted them to steal. Barbarossa questions Bo, who lies and says that its made out of huge diamonds and pearls. Barbarossa stupidly believes him, and is very intrigued.
As Prosper left the shop, he suddenly stopped. It was snowing. Snow is very rare on Venice, and the whole city was amazed. The children open their letter after having some fun in the snow, and find that they are meeting with the Conte tommorow night, at 1 am.

Esther Hartlieb and her husband arrive in Venice, and Victor lies to them, staying true to his promise, and tells them that Prosper and Bo left on a boat to Corfu. However, Esther believes that the two of them are still in Venice, because they were so obsessed with it.

The children go to meet the Conte on the water with boats. The Conte waits on his boat for them, and the children give him the wing. The Conte gives them the money, which is counted by Scipio, and confirmed to be all there. Then Ida follows him, with the children, in her boat, with her driver, Giaco. As they follow the Conte, they realize that he has two great white dogs, and eventually, the Conte notices them and starts shooting at them. They immediately turn the boat around, and land back in Venice. As the children return, they find that Hornet has left a note, saying that they have been found out. The children immediately think that Victor has betrayed them. They search the abandoned theater, but can't find Hornet...or Bo.
As Scipio entered his home, he saw two policemen, with Hornet, but without Bo. As Hornet is taken away, she tells Scipio that Bo is with his aunt.

Now Victor is at his home, and the children come banging on the door. The children tell Victor all about the exchange on the water, and Victor asks to see the money. He examines it, and then finds that it's fake. Victor then says that Bo and Prosper's aunt had been putting up posters with a reward, and an old lady had seen them go into the movie theater.
To try to get help, the children plus Victor go to Ida Spavento's house and tell her all that has happened. Victor has found out where Hornet is, at the Merciful Sisters orphanage, the same on that had had the merry-go-round.
Hornet is lying in her bed at the orphanage and a sister comes in and tells her that her godmother is here. Hornet wonders if she even has a godmother, and then finds that she doesn't, but is being liberated by Ida Spavento and Victor.

Riccio finds Prosper in front of the hotel that his aunt and uncle are staying at. Riccio tells Prosper that Hornet was liberated by Victor and Spavento, and Prosper heads home with Riccio.

That evening, Ida throws a party. However, Prosper is till downtrodden that Bo is not with them. Victor promises him that they will get Bo back. As Prosper tries to fall asleep in Ida's house, he cannot, and goes out to where Ida's boat is moored. There, he notices a motorboat and waits for it to go by. It doesn't however, and instead stops right next to Ida's boat and bumps into it. Scipio pops his head out of the boat, and notices Prosper. Scipio tells him that he stole his father's boat and is going to the island that the Conte went to get the real money. Prosper decides to go with him and see the merry-go-round for himself.

I stopped reading here.

Journal Entry #5
Pages 251-End

Now Prosper was on his way with Scipio to the island, Isola Segrata. When they arrive, they are caught by a girl with two massive dogs, and spend the night in a stable there. Meanwhile, Victor receives a phone call from Esther, informing him that she had Bo, but he has run away from them and she no longer wants anything to do with him. Victor finds Bo at the Stella (the abandoned theater) and takes him back to Ida's, where they find Prosper missing.

The next morning, Scipio and Prosper find that the Conte has got the merry-go-round to work, and is now young. Victor demands a ride on the merry-go-round. The Conte obliges, and Scipio hops on. When he gets off, he is older and looks much like his father. Just as he gets off the merry-go-round, Barbarossa arrives, and demands a ride on the merry-go-round. However, while Barbarossa becomes a five-year-old boy, he accidentally breaks the merry-go-round, infuriating the Conte. Scipio and Prosper leave after promising the Conte that they will not talk about the merry-go-round, and Barbarossa is forced to give the Conte all the money in his shop safe as repayment.

The next day, when everyone at Ida's home finds Prosper, Scipio, and Barbarossa they do not recognize Scipio or Barbarossa and Prosper cannot explain, but Ida immediately understands what happened. Scipio sets up a meeting between Barbarossa and Esther, to which Barbarossa consents after learning that Esther is rich. After Barbarossa puts on an amazingly effective long-term act in which he pretends to be an angel child (figuratively, not literally), Esther decides that she likes Barbarossa and decides to adopt him.

Prosper, Hornet and Bo decide to live with Ida after these events. Mosca and Riccio live in an abandoned warehouse, and Scipio starts to work for Victor. Eventually, Prosper and Scipio return to Isola Segreta, but find no one and nothing. The young Conte had disappeared.

Esther, still believing Barbarossa to be the perfect child, eventually catches Barbarossa poaching her jewelry and other possessions and sends him off to boarding school, where he becomes a menacing bully; he forces other children to do things for him and encourages them to steal, and insists that everyone call him "The Thief Lord."

I found this novel to be quite believable. Venice always has some street people, and there are many abandoned buildings there. However, the concept of children living together in a movie theater and a merry-go-round that makes you young or old was not very believable at all. However, it is a fictional story, and the events strung themselves together perfectly.

I would recommend this novel to someone else purely because I enjoyed it. The characters were great, the plot was stirring, and I loved the setting, which was so beautifully described. I had an amazing sense of really being there.

This novel met and exceeded my expectations. Everything about it was a fun and exciting ride through Venice as the children got into and out of various mishaps. This book grabbed me by the scruff and threw me into a chair, and then kept me entertained for hours. An amazing book.

Focus Assignment

My Reaction

I think that the theme of the novel is to not do things without thinking them through first. I think so because, in many instances, the character(s) did rash things that they regretted later. When they did think through something, however, the outcome was favorable to them. I think that the author was quite successful in getting the point across. She emphasized the instances where the children did things rashly, and emphasized the instances where the outcome was favorable.

The novel was probably written for children in their early teens. If Cornelia Funke had someone specific in mind, she probably would've written it for her, to teach them to be adventurous or something similiar.

The novel helped me understand what some people would do to be free from certain people, and what extremes people would go to to get what they want.
I learned to think things through before doing them from the novel. As I said before, the theme is to think things through, and that when you do, things go better than they normally would.

The thing I found most interesting in the novel was that Scipio turned out to not be a homeless child. It was a completely unexpected twist that left me wondering, "What? How is that possible?"
The thing I found most bizarre about the novel was that there was a merry-go-round that fiddled with your age. It just seemed so out of place. Why would a merry-go-round change your age?

The thing i found most unbelievable about the novel was, again, the merry-go-round. It just seemed so unnatural.

I would definitely reccomend this novel to someone. It's a great book, with great characters, a great plot, and great twists. I will read more from this author, particularly the Inkworld series, which Funke is best-known for.