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Magic Lost, Trouble Found [Mass Market Paperback]

Lisa Shearin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 29 2007
Raine Benares is a Sorceress Seeker of average ability until she comes into possession of an amulet that amplifies her powers-and her enemies.


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About the Author

Lisa Shearin currently works as the editor at an advertising agency. She has been a magazine editor and writer of corporate marketing materials of every description. Lisa enjoys singing, reading, writing novels, and fencing (foil and epee, as well as rapier & dagger dueling). She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two cats, two spoiled-rotten retired racing greyhounds, and a Jack Russell terrier who rules them all.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Sorcerers weren't normal, sorcery wasn't natural, and Quentin Rand didn't like either one.

Quentin had always made an exception for me, but just because you tolerated what a friend was, didn't mean you understood what they did. Nothing explained to me what Quentin was doing breaking into the townhouse of one of Mermeia's most infamous necromancers. Quentin was a thief—at least he used to be. And to the best of my knowledge, he wasn't a suicidal ex-thief. Yet there he was crouched in the shadows of Nachtmagus Nigelius Nicabar's back door, picklocks at the ready. While not the most efficient way to ask for death, it was one of the more certain.

I knew all about Nigel's house wards. The human necromancer did everything he could to inflate his reputation, but he didn't depend on it to protect his valuables. Magical wards were home security at its most basic, and Nigel had some good ones. But although they were nasty, they wouldn't kill—rumor had it Nigel liked to save that pleasure for himself. I guess when you worked with the dead for a living, your idea of fun was a little different from everyone else's. The city watch frowned on citizens taking the law into their own hands like that, but the watch was notoriously short-handed in the Districts. They couldn't prosecute what they didn't know about, and I'd rather they didn't know Quentin was here tonight.

Quentin occasionally works for me. My name is Raine Benares. I'm a seeker. I find things. Most times the people who hire me are glad when I do, but sometimes they're sorry they asked. Personally, I think people should be more careful what they ask for. Some things are better left unfound.

Seeking isn't the flashiest occupation a sorceress can put out her shingle for, or the most highly regarded, but it pays the rent on time. I've found the formerly unfindable for the Mermeia city watch, and since I'm an elf, elven intelligence has sought my help on more than one occasion. Most of what I'm hired to find didn't get lost by itself. It had help. Help you could depend on to use blades or bolts or nastier magical means to keep what they went to all the trouble to get. When that's the case, I go by the rule of me or them.

I also apply that rule to my friends. That's why I was cooling my heels in one of Mermeia's more aromatic alleys—to keep Quentin's moonlighting from earning him a one-way trip to the city morgue.

As a former career thief, Quentin knew the underside of Mermeia better than just about anyone. That's why I hired him. Well, it was one of the reasons. Our professional paths had crossed from time to time over the years. What I had been hired to find was often something Quentin had been hired to steal. It got to the point that I just started my search with Quentin to save myself a lot of unnecessary footwork. He didn't take it personally, and neither did I. However, I always extended to Quentin the professional courtesy of waiting until the object in question had left his hands before recovering it. That way he got paid while maintaining his reputation. But when the risks started to outweigh the rewards, Quentin thought that an early end to his career might keep the same fate from befalling his life. I helped him bridge the gap between thief and quasi-law-abiding citizen.

No fact, tidbit or rumor was too small or too hidden for Quentin to ferret out—given the proper monetary motivation. Greed still occasionally whispered sweet nothings in his ear, enticing my sometime employee to seek out additional means of income. Most times he didn't tell me the details. Most times I didn't want to know. Considering where he was right now, tonight wasn't one of those times.

The city of Mermeia in the kingdom of Brenir consisted of five islands that had been forced into existence by the determination of its founders, and kept from sinking by the greed of its merchants. A powerful force, greed. It made solid ground where there had once been marsh; built palaces and trading houses where there were reeds; and inspired humans, elves, goblins, and magic users of all races to live together in a city separated only by the canals that marked their respective Districts. Sometimes we even got along.

I cupped my hands to my mouth, blowing on cold-numbed fingers. I was trying to breathe through my mouth to keep my nose from becoming any more traumatized than it already was. The cozy little alley I'd found across Pasquine Street from Nigel's townhouse held a charm all its own. I'd put a shielding spell across the entrance, so unless Quentin walked over and looked in, he couldn't see or hear me. The alley walls were slick with something dark and damp and best left unidentified. The air was chilly but still warm enough to enhance the aroma of the garbage sharing the alley with me. And the stench of the canal a block away at low tide only further enhanced my sensory experience. I rubbed my hands together, then gave up and reached for the gloves at my belt. Not that I wanted anything to happen to Quentin, but it would be nice if all this turned out to be worth my while.

"You stood me up."

I yelped. I recognized the voice, which was the only reason my throwing knife remained in my hand, instead of being lodged in the voice's owner.

I blew out my breath. "Don't do that!" I sheathed my knife, though I was still tempted to use it, more from acute embarrassment than anything else.

Phaelan chuckled and stepped out of the shadows hiding the alley entrance from the street. My cousin looked like the rest of my family—dark hair, dark eyes, dark good looks, equally dark disposition. Next to them, I stood out like a flaming match at night with my long red gold hair, gray eyes, and pale skin. The hair and skin tone were from my mother. I assumed my eyes were from my father. Neither parent was around for me to ask.

Phaelan was the main reason having the name Benares was an asset in the seeking business. When looking for pilfered goods, it helped to be related to experts—professional pilferers all.

You could say our family was well known in the import and export business. The goods my cousin's side of the family imported never saw the light of day in a harbormaster's ledger, and the exports consisted of vast profits sent to secret family accounts in various banks in numerous kingdoms. Phaelan's natural talent was in acquisitions. Many times he neglected to get permission from the owners whose goods he intended to acquire; or when he did ask, his request often came from the business end of a cannon.

"Since when does spending the night in an alley rate above dinner with me at the Crown and Anchor?" he asked.

"Since Quentin's moonlighting again."

"Varek said you were staking out Nigel Nicabar's. He didn't say anything about Quentin."

When in Mermeia, Phaelan did business out of the Spyglass, and Varek Akar, the proprietor, served the dual purpose of business manager and social secretary for my cousin when he was in town. I didn't normally make my stakeouts public knowledge, but since Nigel was involved, I thought it'd be a good idea to let my next of kin know where to find me.

"That's because I didn't mention Quentin," I told him. "I'd rather the watch not get wind that he's working again."

"Varek knows how to keep his mouth shut."

"I trust Varek, but I don't feel the same way about his new barkeep. Quentin hasn't done anything illegal tonight."

Phaelan laughed, his voice low. "Night ain't over yet."

He was right, but I didn't have to admit it. If certain members of the watch knew where he was, they'd jump to conclusions, and then they'd jump Quentin.

Phaelan's ship had arrived in port late that afternoon, and the plan had been to meet for an early dinner. Early, because I knew he had plans later—plans that had everything to do with a woman, but nothing to do with a lady. My cousin had a strict threefold agenda on his first night in any port—get fed, get laid, and get drunk, in that order. Occasionally he would skip the food, but never the other two. When in Mermeia, my cousin could either be found in one of the city's less reputable gambling parlors, or enjoying the comforts offered at Madame Natasha's Joy Garden, and probably the attentions of Madame Natasha herself. This evening, Phaelan was positively resplendent in a doublet of scarlet buckskin, with matching breeches topped with high, black leather boots. At his side was the swept-hilt rapier he favored when out on the town. And unless my nose deceived me, his white linen shirt was as well scrubbed as Phaelan himself. An earring set with a single ruby gleamed in the lobe of one elegantly pointed ear. I knew all the fuss wasn't on account of me.

"You took a bath," I said. "And shaved. I'm impressed."

"Just fancying myself up for you, darlin'."

"I'm sure Madame Natasha and her girls will also appreciate your consideration."

He grinned in a flash of white teeth. It was the kind of grin that could get him anything he wanted at Madame Natasha's—or anywhere else in Mermeia—for free. He nodded toward where Quentin still waited by Nigel's side door. "So what's he doing here?"

"Asking for more trouble than he can handle."

The grin broadened. "From Nigel or you?"

"Both."

"Then walk across the street and stop him. The Crown's still holding a table for us."

"It's not that easy."

"Why not?"

"Being here wasn't his idea."

"So someone paid him well. Wouldn't be the first time. Let's go and let the man earn his money."

I didn't budge. "How much would it take for you to break into Nigel's at night?"

To his credit, Phaelan didn't have to think long. "More money than most in this city can lay hands to."

"Exactly. And Quentin's terrified of necromancers. There's more involved here th...

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great start to the series Jan. 1 2011
By Cassay
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Raine is one sassy chick. I love her and I would totally want her on my side in a bar fight. I don't read a lot of adult books because I find that they bore me but this one kept my attention from beginning to end. There is also a lot of eye candy. ;)

The writing is very witty and I found myself in tears laughing at some of Raine's witty comments. Lisa keeps the attention of her readers by constantly having action and a dilemma Raine must overcome in order to move forward to hear goal.

I liked that Lisa describe just enough information about Mermeia to satisfy me and give a good sense of the where Raine lives.

Lisa's goblins are SEXY! You probably will never hear my say that again but Tam is one hot and mysterious goblin. But, I am partial to Mychael. There is just something about him that I really like, maybe it is his position in the law.

For more reviews please visit [...]
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hélène May 10 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
MLTF is a terrific beginning to what promises to be an exciting adventure. Seeker elf Raine captivated me so thoroughly from the get go, that it wasn't until someone else commented that it was written in the first person that I realized, `Oh, so it is!'.
I loved Raine's snarky inner dialogues, the colourful characters and the rest of the fun and excitement. Lisa Shearin's Mermeia is a fantasy destination I can't wait to visit again, and again, and again...well you get the idea.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  89 reviews
108 of 112 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enchantigly engaging read... June 20 2007
By J. Nusz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Raine Benares, an elf and a Seeker, has enough trouble in her life without someone bringing more to her door, but when her friend and employee, Quentin, is hired to steal something from a powerful necromancer's house, she just can't let him handle the trouble alone.

The something that Quentin has been hired to steal is soon found to be more valuable and more important than either of them could ever have imagined. Before Quentin even escapes the necromancer's house, he finds himself with some unsavory company, who also just happen to want to lay hands on the very same amulet that Quentin has just pilfered.

With a little help from Raine and her family, Quentin narrowly escapes with his life. Raine insists that he hand over the amulet for safekeeping, and that's when things start to get a little wild!

MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND is an enchantingly engaging read. Devoid of the heavy depressing themes that seem to permeate popular fantasy novels lately, MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND will delight readers who like a good dose of humor mixed with their magical adventure. Author Lisa Shearin has done a superb job of crafting a fantasy world alive with elves, goblins and otherworldly creatures. With a fast paced plot, well-crafted characters and just a hint of romance, MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND is a book that fantasy lovers won't want to miss.
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done first novel Aug. 15 2007
By R. Kyle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Magic Lost, Trouble Found" is the first non-contemporary fantasy I have read in a long time. The title caught my eye, but it was reading the first chapter that really won me over.

Others have summed up the story very nicely. What grabbed me about Raine Benares (our heroine) was that she stuck by her friend Quentin even when she knew it was a bad idea. What continued to hold my attention was her humor and her ability to take care of herself despite serious challenges.

Up until Benares was forced to take an amulet Quentin stole, she was a moderate level sorceress. Now that amulet has increased her powers. Unfortunately, everyone in the city wants that amulet, which ties her up in politics and makes a lot of enemies.

There's a lot to like about this novel. Shearin's characters are well-written and engaging. While she has a significant cast of multiple races, she does manage to keep track of them and explain them reasonably well. The story moves along at a smart pace with very few bogs. Her world is also very well-realized--even the politics make sense. (As much as politics ever do!)

I have two complaints that reduced "Magic Lost's" rating from 5 stars. A map would have been very useful in helping to figure out where we were in somewhat complex terrain.

Second, the cast of characters was large enough and the action fast enough, that an index of characters with a brief description of their race and position would have helped a lot. Such a list will also help refresh readers' memory when this series continues, which I believe it will.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad title, bad cover, fun novel June 7 2007
By J. Nolt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I picked this up at the bookstore the other day, desperate for something in the genre. I wish my favorite writers lived in a pocket universe where time moves much faster, and would send their completed novels back through the wormhole every couple of weeks. Sigh. But I digress...

The cover and title of this book are deceptive. They make the book appear more appropriate for the Romance aisle of the bookstore-- but that's not the case. It's a fairly standard fantasy adventure novel, with very little romance. Only a few kisses, and although the heroine does seem to go weak in the knees a bit too often and easily in the presence of A Man, it didn't bother me too much. I'd liken the book to one of those Mercedes Lackey "urban fantasy" novels, but with less actual description of violence.

The writing is consistent throughout; it's not a cringeworthy first novel. There are enough interesting things happening, and almost none of the insufferable repetition you sometimes get with this sort of thing.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good first novel May 30 2007
By prolific reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After reading several much-hyped bad first books, it was a relief to find one that's worth the cover price. This book was well done with a strong heroine, good secondary characters (I liked both Mychael and Piaris), and everything else a book needs: plot, action, several creepy settings, etc. The pacing is a little uneven, but entirely forgiveable in a first book. If you like light fantasy, this is highly recommended.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible First Book May 31 2007
By T. Revelle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lisa Shearin takes urban fantasy and gives it a jump start with her first book Magic Lost, Trouble Found. Raine Benares can wield a sword, avoid capture from a goblin shaman, fight a soul sucking rock for her soul, and still find time to entertain the affections of two attractive men. Shearin's Mermeia gives the fantasy world a new city, full of back alleys, royal embassies, playful night clubs and Gothic ruins. Not only is her portrayal of both elves and humans superb, but she gives goblins a whole new skin to wander about in. Shearin's goblins are tall, muscled, angular, and gray-skinned with pointed ears. She spares no detail for her supporting cast, all of whom are delightful (Tam ranks at the top of my personal list). Add a hint of humor and you have a brilliant book that lives up to the expectations of the avid fantasy reader. All we can wish for is that Mrs. Shearin proves to be most prolific in her writing and provides us with much more trouble, which only magic can remedy.
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