The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

the_thiefThe Thief (The Queen’s Thief #1)
By Megan Whalen Turner
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
ISBN: 9780060824976
Pages: 280
Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

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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.


My Thoughts

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.

The skinny..

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!

tea cup

 

Pair with an herbal lemon verbena or lavender tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

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Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

bannerlessBannerless (The Coast Road #1)
By Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Mariner Books
ISBN: 9780544947306
Pages: 274
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian

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Decades after economic and environmental collapse destroys much of civilization in the United States, the Coast Road region isn’t just surviving but thriving by some accounts, building something new on the ruins of what came before. A culture of population control has developed in which people, organized into households, must earn the children they bear by proving they can take care of them and are awarded symbolic banners to demonstrate this privilege. In the meantime, birth control is mandatory.

Enid of Haven is an Investigator, called on to mediate disputes and examine transgressions against the community. She’s young for the job and hasn’t yet handled a serious case. Now, though, a suspicious death requires her attention. The victim was an outcast, but might someone have taken dislike a step further and murdered him?

In a world defined by the disasters that happened a century before, the past is always present. But this investigation may reveal the cracks in Enid’s world and make her question what she really stands for.


My Thoughts

The dystopian theme is one of my absolute favorites. You simply mention it and you have my undivided attention. How it is that Bannerless escaped my clutches is beyond me. I only recently learned of this series when I received an advanced copy of the upcoming sequel. So while I was excited at the prospect of a new dystopian saga, I had little expectations as I jumped in nearly blind.

The skinny..

Due to epidemics and economic collapse, the United States is now an almost barren land with small surviving settlements that have regressed in many ways. However, the Coast Road offers hope to many in the forms of a possible future and rebuilt civilization. In efforts to thrive and avoid outgrowing the land, this remaining culture has implemented a regulated form of population control where each homestead must earn the right to expand their families and bear children. That right is signified with awarded banners. For everyone else, birth control is not optional.  When Coast Road citizen, Enid, an investigator from Haven is summoned to another settlement in regards to a mysterious death, she uncovers a possible murder that just might not only upend the whole town but the world as she understands it.

“On the wall above the kitchen door hung a piece of woven cloth, a foot square on each side, a red-and-green-checked pattern for blood and life: their banner, which the four of them had earned.” 

What I appreciated..

  • Beautifully executed world construction that immerses the reader in life along the Coast Road.
  • A unique twist on a classic concept. This is a dystopian story enshrouding a murder mystery with a true element of whodunnit.
  • Enid is a patient and well-defined character who’s portrayal offers readers a rewarding glimpse into the beginning of a new civilization and era.
  • The author offers viable aspects to man’s approach to rebuild, reclaim and even preserve some of what was.
  • An alternating timeline of our protagonist’s childhood and the present adds a nice layer of depth to her character.

“The worst storms were the ones that changed you. The ones you remembered not for how bad they objectively were, but for how much damage they did to your own world. Banners, planted in memory.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • At times, the slow and steady pacing can feel almost sobering or emotionless.
  • Secondary characters remain almost undemonstrative and disconnected in comparison to Edin.
  • This is not a complex story with high revelations.

What Bannerless lacks in complexity it easily makes up for in a well-executed story, solid writing and the promise of something grand to come. It offers a dose of optimism in the midst of a desperate time which is often rare in this genre. I appreciated Vaughn’s decision to introduce a civilization that was making honest attempt to regain a worthwhile and constructive life. I am excited to see what direction she will take with this series and look forward to The Wild Dead.

tea cupPairs well with a nice mint and ginger tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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FRIDAY FAVORITES: NETFLIX ORIGINALS TO BINGE, PART 3

new Friday fave

Friday Favorites is a post where I incorporate more of what I love into the blog. This includes films, anime, manga, music, you name it. Anything goes.  It will be an opportunity to share some of the things I love and discuss them briefly or at length, depending on my mood 😉


As my queue continues to expand (not quite to the extremes of my TBR but close), I have decided to share more Netflix Originals. I continue to discover series that are definitely binge-worthy, and well, most of us are often seeking that next good watch when we are not immersed in books.

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Netflix Originals: Round 3

requiem-e1520840445578Netflix Original: Requiem
Cast:  Lydia WilsonJames FrechevilleSian Reese-Williams
The Skinny: This British thriller offers a nice mix of fantasy and the supernatural. When cello star Matilda Gray’s mother takes her own life, she discovers a concerning link to the disappearance of a Welsch girl years ago and travels to Wales in search of answers.
Pros: Atmospheric and brooding plotline with a slow revelation. Excellent cast.
Cons: An ultimately far-fetched ending that some will struggle with.
My rating: 4/5 – the ending was not enough to deter my love for this series.

tabulaNetflix Original: Tabula Rasa
Cast: Veerle BaetensStijn Van OpstalJeroen Perceval
The Skinny: A Dutch thriller centered around a young woman, Annemie D’Haeze. After an accident leaves her with amnesia and no short-term memory, she becomes the center of a missing person investigation.
Pros: Well developed, complex plot with unexpected twists.
Cons: A few themes that may be sensitive in nature for some.
My rating: 5/5 – I binged this one hard and was caught off guard by the end events.

frankenstein

Netflix Original: The Frankenstein Chronicles
Cast: Sean BeanRichie CampbellTom Ward
The Skinny: John Marlott is an inspector tasked with a gruesome job. He is investigating a set of mysterious murders that appear to be the work of a scientist attempting to reanimate the dead.
Pros: Beautiful period piece set in 19th Century London with superb acting (hello Sean Bean).
Cons: Often graphic and sometimes slow pace.
My rating: 4/5 – Loved the setting, costume, and well.. Sean Bean.

fullmetalalchemistNetflix Original: Fullmetal Alchemist
Cast: Ryôsuke YamadaTsubasa HondaDean Fujioka
The Skinny: This is the live adaptation of the beloved manga and anime series and a film, not actually a series. It follows the Elric brothers whose attempt to use alchemy to revive their mother goes horribly wrong, leaving the younger brother without a body. Now they search for the Philosopher’s Stone, which they believe is the answer to their problems.
Pros: The spirit of the brothers and key elements of the story are captured.
Cons: The graphics felt over the top, and there were a few omissions.
My Rating 3/5 – This is worth a watch if you are fan! Once I let go of my initial hangups, I really enjoyed the film.


The list is a little smaller this round, as I have not been able to watch as much television. What have you been watching? Any thoughts on the above or any recommendations?

Happy Friday!

Danielle ❤

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