The Thief (The Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner

the-thief-by-megan-whalen-turner-cover-fantasyThe king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities.

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.

The Thief is an excellent blend of fantasy, mythology, adventure and politics. It’s equal parts clever and exciting and its unique angle makes it stand out among other fantasy books. However, it is the kind of book that’s best read without any prior knowledge about it, else you might run into spoilers, or know what to look for. So I’d recommend just picking it up if it sounds interesting and giving it a try rather than reading too much about it so you don’t ruin it for yourself.

The Thief has been calling for my attention from the shelves at the library where I work for a long time now, and after seeing it surface on my Goodreads homepage I decided it was finally time to pick it up and am really glad I did.

You are immediately dropped into the story and the intriguing start coupled with the first person narration quickly draws you into to Gen’s world. This also allows plot and character backgrounds to be revealed slowly, as you only find things out when Gen learns about them. It is not until the end that you learn the full story and all the pieces fall into place. The Thief is very cleverly plotted in this respect, and only ever tells you what you need to know at that point in time. In addition, the danger, even from the first page, feels real and the stakes high, making the story all the more compelling.

The first half of the story is slower and sets the stage for the action that occurs at the end. It is packed with information, painting a vivid picture of the landscape, the characters and the politics of the world. Beyond just providing background, all the details provided become important in the conclusion of the story. Words are judiciously chosen and though it may not be apparent at first, everything has meaning.  I especially loved the inclusion of mythology as the characters exchange stories about the old gods and creation while travelling.

Gen was a great narrator – exceptionally clever, sarcastic, but also lazy and a little too arrogant. In other words, loveable, yet realistically flawed. All the characters are fleshed out and given the space needed to become three-dimensional people. By the end, I was actually rather sorry to have to say goodbye to them all.

The story is set in an alternate ancient Greece and after studying the period’s architecture in my art history class it was cool to see it all brought to life. The political side of things was very realistic and thought provoking, providing more than just an impetus to drive the plot.  I’m interested to see how things continue to unfold over the subsequent books.

The second half is intense and action packed and it becomes increasingly difficult to guess what will happen next. I didn’t want to put the book down until I’d reached the end and then was immediately looking forward to the next one. I don’t want to say too much about the ending but it was surprising and suspenseful and exciting and I was frequently flipping back and forth to re-read earlier sections of the novel to fit everything together.

A quick and memorable read. Highly recommended to all fantasy lovers.


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