The Thief (The Queen's Thief #1)
What Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
My only complaint is a wish for a map, I sometimes had trouble envisioning where everything was in relation to each other and at the beginning it was hard to keep track of which country was which. Though by the end that confusion was all worked out, fortunately.
Gen is a filthy, ill-mannered, uneducated piece of gutter scum who picks his teeth at the dinner table just to annoy others. He's rude and cocky and cowardly, and I love him to the tips of his soft-soled shoes. The book is told in first person from his perspective, and while I don't normally enjoy first-person narratives, I loved being inside Gen's snark-encrusted head. One of my favorite moments is when he first meets the other members of the group the magus has put together - the magus's two apprentices, Ambiades and Sophos, and a soldier named Pol - and he immediately dubs the former two Useless the Elder and Useless the Younger.
Let me be clear. The first section of the book is not an adventure-filled treasure hunt. It is a knowledge hunt dripping with insight and sarcasm as Gen tries to ferret out information from the others and to assert himself as more than just a "well-behaved tool." (His words.)
Some have deemed the first half too slow, too full of politics. I disagree. I was too busy having fun joining Gen in giggling up my sleeve to care whether there was a fresh body on every page. As much as I enjoy a Hunger Games-like tension-fest, I liked feeling like I was figuring things out with him, especially when it involves figuring out characters as interesting as the ones in his group.
The second half of the book is when the adventure starts to kick in, because though the gods might be merely myths, do you really think stealing a legendary stone is going to be easy? The pacing was perfect for me; by this point, I cared not only what happened to Gen, but to the others in the group as well. I was solidly invested.
MWT (that's Megan Whalen Turner, for you who aren't super-fans) is a master of slowly cranking up the heat. My tension while reading slowly built in each stage of the story from worrying if Gen would succeed to worrying if they all would succeed to worrying if they all would make it out alive at all.
Do you know what else MWT is a master of? Twists. Big, honking', blow-my-mind twists. I thought I knew. I really thought I knew how things would go and that this would be a story that I valued more for character style than for surprises, despite the few eyebrow-raising moments MWT provided. But then I reached The Big Twist (also known as the moment when I became a super-fan) and went, "Ho. Ly. COW!"
Because MWT doesn't just do twists. She hides twists. She provides hidden subtext like no one else I've ever read. I've read The Thief a good dozen times since first finding it in the library and still can't believe all the clues I missed. I find more every time I read. And they're all hidden inside this beautifully simple book that talks about politics, olive trees, and myths about gods.
I implore you, even if every word I have written fails to catch even an atom of your interest, read this book. Read it to the very end. And then read the sequels, because honest-to-goodness, they're even better.
Points Added For: A snarky thief, myths told within the story, hidden hints, a Mediterranean setting, a great Big Twist.
Points Subtracted For: Ummm… I suppose I should come up with something just for balance, yes? Okay fine. I wish it was longer.
Good For Fans Of: Tricksters and snarky people, Diana Wynne Jones books (DWJ discovered MWT, y'all), Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and many more (I have a full list of recommendations from the main Thief fansite).
Notes For Parents: Some violence, multiple d's and gd's.
You, as the reader, will likely find your attention drifting at some point, especially as it gets a bit slow in the middle, yet, I have rarely found a book with a plot so well crafted. It's very character-driven, and that's what makes the book so appealing. Despite the fact that the story is told in Gen's voice, he does not tell you EVERYTHING, leaving quite a bit of surprises and twists and turns saved for the end.
Gen. I'm not quite sure how any character could possibly be so brilliant, yet so flawed. Turner does an amazing job of fleshing Gen out and giving him real personality. I've rarely met a character so extraordinarily clever, and while that could just simply annoy me, in this case, because Gen is nowhere near perfect, it makes him amazing and endearing. Each character is unique and has their own personalities that make them remarkable, but Turner does a great job of making sure none of them cling to stereotypes (which is, granted, easier in a book in which the author creates her own setting), and instead, makes them complicated and appealing.
The writing style is nothing extraordinary, not that it's bad. This book is driven by plot and character and I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite books of all time.
THE THIEF certainly deserves the stacks of awards its been granted. Although the story is a bit slow to start, the ending has a brilliant twist, and by the first sixty or so pages, it becomes un-put-downable.
The best part of THE THIEF is the narrator, Gen. His voice is vivid, and I love the snarky asides he sprinkles throughout the story. Really, it's his voice that carries the first fifty or seventy pages--I was reading then just to see his opinion on the others.
But the story does pick up after the start, and in the end, I was reading to find out how Gen had gotten trapped in this impossible situation, and how he would get out.
I read *a lot* and it takes *a lot* to surprise me--but I have to say that the end of this novel blew me away. I *never* saw the twist at the end, and I adored how clever Megan Whalen Turner was in creating such a brilliant twist.
This book is HIGHLY recommended for anyone who likes fantasy, intrigue, and a great story.
Gen is a thief whos down on his luck- he has been captured by the Sounisians and imprisoned in a dark cell, where he stays until the Magus liberates him. The Magus, a stern and scholarly man whose heart may or may not be in the right place, has an ulterior motive in doing so- he needs Gen's help to steal Hamiathes' Gift, which would cement the power of the scheming King of Sounis. Gen has no desire to help the King of Sounis, who he dislikes on sight, but he will do anything to get out of his cell.
I read this series years ago, and I loved it then as much as I do now. Each book is a gem in its own way, but The Thief is easily the best for its whip smart characters. There are times when Megan Whalen Turner makes the reader laugh out loud, but never at the expense of characterization.
I have recommended this book to basically every reader I know, and almost all of them, regardless of age and gender, love it as much as I do.
Grab your horse and an extra ration on olives, because youre in for a long ride. The Thief is not a story you want to miss. Freed from jail by a kings Magus and his two apprentices, Gen must help them search for a sacred treasure, Hamiathess Gift.
After weeks of traveling, they have found the gifts home& Now Gen must find the gift, or parish. Will he find it? If he does who will possess it? I guess youll have to read the book to find out.
The Thief is a very good book. I love how the beginning of the story starts at a medium pace, them speeds up as the story gets deeper and deeper. Megan Whalen Turner did a wonderful job with the characters. This is a must read book for everyone!!
Basic plot-line: Gen, who brags he is the best thief in the land, is employed by the King's right-hand man to take part in an adventure to steal an object known as Hamiathes's Gift.
This book seemed to get off to a very slow start. I was almost half-way through before my interest was finally perked. I loved the stories of the gods that Gen and the magus started telling - it amazed me that the author could make up her own myths in the style of the Greek ones without actually copying them. The characters started fleshing out and I began to like or dislike them accordingly.
As soon as I reached the point where the company reached their destination, I turned page after page, barely able to read fast enough to find out what would happen next. At times I found myself gripping the book tightly in both hands, almost gasping for breath in the midst of the suspense and action!
By the time I read the last sentence I was left with a feeling of satisfaction and decided that, slow beginning ignored, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I will definitely be picking up the sequel.
Three and a half stars.