THE THIEF
by
Megan Whalen Turner

Megan Whalen Turner has just released her book  Thick as Thieves, seven years after the last instalment of the Queen's Thief series. I have yet to read it (I shall do my best to remember to review it) but there are four other books to review while I wait. 

I'm going to try to steer clear of major spoilers, but I'm not very good at that, so tread carefully.  In the plot section, I have let loose what I believe to be a spoiler. 

If you don't want to read a long review: I liked it (unusual for me) and you should read it. The Queen's Thief is a series, but each book stands alone and does not leave you on an annoying cliffhanger. 


I'm feeling lazy, so I'm going to steal the blurb from the back of the book. 

"I can steal anything."
After Gen's bragging lands him in the king's prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king's scholar, that magus, needs the thief's skill for a seemingly impossible task – to steal a hidden treasure from another land. 
To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own. 

First off, a YA book that isn't about a teenage girl is already promising. 

Setting

The book is technically fantasy, but very realistic fantasy. The place itself is made up, but with strong grecian influence. Turner's world building is impressive, and I quite like the mythology she made up for her world. Rather than just throwing about obscure sounding names, and vaguely referencing other countries, she provided different cultures with their own unique beliefs and interpretations of things. She wrote the stories of the gods, complete with different versions for people with different backgrounds. Instead of a bizarre and unlikely system of government, she went for something practical that actually made sense, and added to the historical feel of the book. I'm quite fond of it. I like my fantasy well thought out, full of background and history, practical, and VERY realistic. That doesn't mean there can't be elves and goblins, but they need to be realistic elves and goblins (ahem TOLKIEN). 

Plot

The plot is a simple plot, with complex sub-plots. Or rather, it is a simple plot, made complex by the characters. Everyone has hidden backstory and motives, and it messes with things. A plot twist is thrown in at the end, which I have heard people object to, but I rather like it myself. Allow me to explain, while trying not to spoil anything. The book is written in first person, from the POV of Gen, and he is hiding something from the reader. If you don't think that someone in first person is allowed to hide things from you, you may not like this book as much. I don't really care, as long as it is handled well. If you look back through the book, you were being told, all along. Certain things were never said outright, but it doesn't look as though Gen is deliberately hiding them. I like that, and it is actually pretty realistic. If someone was looking at the world through your thoughts, how often would they hear your name? I have run into the problem, when writing first person, of introducing my character's name and age, because it is weird if your character says things like "I, Reniseb, walked into the room. How fun to be 15." So if you have a book where none of the other characters know the person's name and origins, it is actually unlikely that you would find out, without forced exposition. 


Characters

Gen: I'm very fond of Gen. Like myself, he is small, grumpy, and sarcastic. (Although he doesn't like horses. Tsk tsk. I adore horses). He is very talented and clever, and kind of annoying (in a good way?). He is very childlike in a lot of ways, but also mature beyond his years. His arc, in this book, is excellent, and his character matches his backstory. I have read books where a character doesn't make any sense, given the backstory provided. For example, Someone who has had a life full of people being kind and loving, having major trust issues. A person's past shapes their present self, and if the two don't fit together, the character ends up rather weak and confusing. 

Magus: I have mixed feelings about the magus. In this first book, I like him, but in the next two, I feel like his character isn't exactly consistent. I dunno. I guess I like him. 

Sophos: To be honest, I really didn't like Sophos when I first read this book. In fact, I disliked him. He was too clueless and annoying. But during my first re-read, he grew on me. He is very young, after all, and had a rather sheltered upbringing, so it makes sense that he would be the way he is. Just give him a chance, readers. I think you will end up liking him. 

Everybody Else: All of the characters were complex, well-developed, realistic, and interesting. Particularly Pol and Ambiades. 

Objectionable Content

I can't really think of any, off the top of my head. With different gods, cultures, and languages, you end up with cursing that doesn't really have any connotations in our society. 

In Conclusion 

I'm quite fond of this book. It was well written, had good characters, good setting, and a good plot. It's a pretty short book, and does not take long to read. Engaging throughout. I really liked the way Turner integrated her mythological stories into the book (they also have bearing on the actual plot, which is cool). They were not at all forced. When people are camping in the middle of nowhere, what else are they going to do around the fire but tell stories? I would certainly recommend this to anyone who likes mythology and historical fiction, or thief-y mystery type things. 
 The Author
You can find my other reviews at: writeornotwrite.blogspot.com/reviews


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