The Thief (The Queen’s Thief #1)
By Megan Whalen Turner
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction
The 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.
This was such a refreshing and unexpected read! I picked up The Thief in an effort to complete one of my current reading challenge prompts, but I was not prepared for how endearing I was soon to find its unlikely hero and protagonist, Gen.
When the magus finds himself in need of a thief to help him seek out an elusive, ancient treasure for the king, he turns to the prison. It is here that he chooses young Gen, a boastful and proud thief, selected solely for his skills to help him complete the job at hand. What is the job? Only the magus knows. So Gen, happy to escape his current confinements sets out with 4 men on a long and dangerous journey. Along the way, they will they will share food, trade stories of the old gods and goddesses, and possibly come to know one another just a little.
” ‘I want you to steal something.’
I smiled. ‘Do you want the king’s seal? I can get it for you.’
‘If I were you,’ said the magus, ‘I’d stop bragging about that.’ His voice grated.
My smile grew. The gold ring with the engraved ruby had been in his safekeeping when I had stolen it away.”
What I appreciated..
- This is a beautiful slow burn sort of tale unfolds throughout the course of our narrator’s travels. And I adore traveling stories for some many reasons, I would not even know where to start. But the every changing setting and perils offer an environment that is ripe with opportunity. It is here we learn so much about our protagonist and companions.
- There are elements of mythology present, though I am unable to place my finger on any specific one. It felt as if Turner plucked the best from Greek mythology and other familiar cultures and tales, crafting them into something of her own. We are gifted with stories within a story as members of the traveling party trade their tales.
- Gen is an incredibly rewarding protagonist and narrator. He is witty, animated and invigorating. It does not take long to succumb to his odd, wily charms and find yourself slightly enchanted.
- Turner’s writing is captivating and seamless, creating a rich and immersive experience.
- The ending was not what I had imagined and I am thankful for that. While a few small moments were predicted, I admit to being caught unaware in the best of ways and loved the conclusion!
“It’s a funny thing that the new gods have been worshipped in Sounis since the invaders came, but when people need a truly satisfying curse, they call on the old gods. I called on all of them, one right after another, and used every curse I’d overheard in the lower city.”
Challenges some may encounter..
- I cannot speak for later books in this series, but The Thief while a fantasy story at heart will read more true as slower paced, historical fiction during this first encounter. The fantasy elements come into limited play. So if you are expecting high fantasy, you may be setting yourself up for some disappointment.
- I felt the character description was slightly lacking, leaving me to wonder quite a bit about Gen and a few supporting characters.
The Thief is a superb introduction to what promises to be a fulfilling and rich series. Boasting a distinct protagonist who carries a first-person narrative in the best of ways, it is likely to find an appreciative audience among fans of sharp, humorous fantasy and historical fiction. I am looking forward to picking up the next book!
Pair with an herbal lemon verbena or lavender tea.
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