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The Thief (Queen's Thief) Paperback – 30 Apr 2017
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“Megan Whalen Turner has constructed a clever world filled with suspense and intrigue and characters that will never be forgotten. Once you dive into the world of the Queen’s Thief [books], prepare to have your life stolen from you until you finish them all.” (Joelle Charbonneau, New York Times-bestselling author of the Testing trilogy)
“An exceptional adventure story.” (KLIATT)
About the Author
Megan Whalen Turner is the bestselling and award-winning author of four novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief. She has been awarded a Newbery Honor and a Horn Book-Boston Globe Honor and won the LA Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature. She has won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature and was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award. She worked as a bookseller for seven years before she started writing. Her first book was a collection of short stories called Instead of Three Wishes. She lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
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When I saw that Harper Collins India was going to be publishing the first four books in Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief series here in India with the GORGEOUS new covers, I was beyond excited. I only requested the first two, but being the awesome sauce humans that they are, they sent me all four books and now I’m going to have an amazing time bingeing through the series! #BingesAreTheBest
My thoughts about The Thief:
· As I said before, I was VERY VERY excited about this book. Say the words ‘Master Thief’, and my mind automatically shifts to Kaz (aka Dirtyhands) in the Six of Crows duology. I couldn’t wait to experience Gen’s world, see the cunning thief that Gen promised to be and pretty much find myself a new favourite character.
· The Thief was a very informative book. It had a lot of world building and introduction to the political climate. If I didn’t have the next three books to read right after, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.
· While this book had GREAT WORLD BUILDING, it had very little else. In Gen, I didn’t find a master thief or a skilled manipulator. Instead, rather than a Thief, I would call him a very skilled explorer. For three quarters of the book, we saw him being taken out of prison, walking across countries and complaining about food. He seemed like a half acute observer, and until they reached the Temple, there was NO THIEVEING HAPPENING.
· Honestly, if there was one thing I could have changed, it would have been to describe HOW Gen stole, or rather, made him more shrewd and cunning – something. Even as plot twists are revealed, it seemed like the entire book was based on an uncalculated risk and pure luck.
· Obviously, Gen wasn’t ALL I wanted him to be, but that didn’t mean I didn’t like him anyway. His carefree attitude, how he admitted that he could be wrong, and the promise of who he would be from the next few books, all seemed promising, I just didn’t get it in book one.
· I LOVED THE RELIGION AND THE STORIES. Gen and the Magus (the King’s right hand man) tell these stories about the Ancient Gods that I really loved for the pure amount of thought that went into them, and how much they contributed into building this world up.
· The Thief was a quick read, but it didn’t feel like a great book itself. It felt like a prequel – setting us up for the real adventure, which I am very excited to read about.
Do I recommend this series? Yes, but I would consider this book a prequel to it.
It’s a simple, quick and fun read that I’m hoping gets more complex as I dive in deeper. 3.5 stars.
He is a called upon to steal the unstealable. It’s a fabulously entertaining tale but then I have a weakness for rogues of every colour.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
SPOILER ALERT: If you have NOT read this novel and would like to, please do NOT read ahead as this review is a spoiler.
Ms. Whelan Turner tells this story from the point-of-view of the thief, known chiefly to us as “Gen”, who appears to be a low-life criminal plucked from the city jail to do a job for the Magus. The assumption being that once the job is done, he’ll be sent back to the jail, or to the gallows, or on his way.
Throughout the novel, Ms. Turner drops hints that Gen is not quite as he seems. He is well-educated enough to be able to tell stories about gods and goddesses. He is well-educated enough to be able to critique another’s sword play. He is also very good at horsemanship, although he pretends in the beginning that he knows nothing of it.
More hints come towards the end of the novel:
The magus and I were nearly knee to knee, ahead of the others. I dragged the reins of my horse over to one side, and it stumbled into the horse beside it. I brushed shoulders with the magus for just a moment and then turned the horse on its haunches and drove it with my heels back toward the trees on the streambank. As a branched passed overhead, I grabbed it, using my free hand, and pulled myself up into the tree. …(156)
They dragged the bodies out of the water, while I sat forgotten in the tree. I carefully rebraided my hair and watched. When the dead men were laid out on the bank, the magus remembered me. (158)
At the moment of the twist, Ms. Whelan Turner gets out of the reader’s way by using language that is crisp and clear:
The room fell quiet. The soldiers around the magus, Sophos, and me stepped hastily aside. Once the queen saw us, she dropped her hand.
“Oh,” she said in irritation and perfect understanding. “It’s you, Eugenides.” (203)
I first read it when I was twelve and have read it over a dozen times since then. The beginning is a little slow, but once you get into it the story is amazing. Gen is one of my absolute favorite characters--he's so unique and fascinating, and I love being inside his head. The book has a great twist at the end that keeps you guessing.
Read this book asap!
1. (+) Gen, the protagonist - By far, the best part of this book for me was Gen, his witty comments, resourcefulness, cleverness, determination, and more, though I'm not keen on revealing much about him so that I don't ruin the story for you. It's no secret that Gen has a lot of secrets. His perspective is not really what you'd associate with "distant" nowadays, but it does feel slightly off, slightly distant, the same sort of trickster and wily humor that you might expect of a thief, and that you see in his interactions with the other characters, embedded into how he describes situations, as if he's laying clues out for you to understand his motives, his personality, his background. And he's one of the most well-drawn, fascinating protagonists in YA literature that I've read.
2. (+) World-building - If you are a world-building person, you will love this novel. There are so many details to appreciate. The details of the land during their journey across Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia. The way the land reflects political leanings. The different accents and specialties of each country. The histories, wars and invasions and diseases alike. The ancient Greek inspired culture, with peplos and related mythology stories, though with some historically inaccurate elements like guns, windows with glass panes, pocket watches, and printed books. The details of the treasure hunt itself and the history behind that particular item and how important it is to a certain culture. The details of Gen's thievery and the King's prison and the magus's duties along with the duties of other soldiers and land owners. The customs for the various religions. etc. etc. In some ways, it seemed like The Thief was set-up for the rest of the series because of the very well established world that would later, I bet, have more political intrigue.
3. (+) Stories within stories - What I really liked was the way Megan Whalen Turner created her own mythology within an ancient Greek mythology/culture based world (plus some other details like guns) and factored that into the story. The synopsis refers to the tales of "old gods and goddesses," and I couldn't help but think a bit of Scheherazade and One Thousand and One Nights as Gen and the magus inform us and the other boys of creation and thievery myths.
4. (+) Characters - Personally, I guessed a majority of the secrets and plot twists, but I don't think that makes the character cast any less worthy of admiration. It's clear that each character's motivations and backgrounds are well-drawn and shown in every action that they take, and the interactions between the guys are complex things in themselves. You're with the guys for a majority of the novel, but even the other characters who get very little time in comparison have ulterior motives and personalities that will certainly intrigue as they did to me.
5. (--) The Beginning - The beginning pages are reminiscent of some other books that I've read lately that also haven't eased me into the fantasy world as well as I'd have liked. Just last week, I'd given up on a book for the same reason, but where this book succeeded was in the writing style, which I'll get to later. Still, even with the engaging writing, the info-dumps nearly turned me away.
6. (+/-) Plot - Because I was bored for some parts of the novel. Because the plot was clearly fashioned with the series in mind. For about half the novel, the characters are traveling, the details of the countryside astounding but not hiding the fact that there was very little actually going on, no matter the twists that you uncover later. The devil is certainly in the details in this book, and while I loved that and that the book was showing me that I needed to pay close attention, I still wanted a bit more *excitement.*
7. (+/-) That Special Spark - So, that's a really general topic, but for me, this book lacked that special spark that makes me want to return to it days later, that makes me continue to think of the book hours after I finish it. Why? Well, although the characters were well-rounded, the only one who I felt at all connected to was Gen, and that happened a lot later, when he really started to pull the guns out, so to speak. And as for the world? Well, it's certainly fascinating and well-drawn, but I probably missed a good deal of it with the beginning info-dumps and unless I actually *care* about the characters a lot, then I'll probably not feel too invested in the world either. So that's all to say, while I sense a great deal of potential in Megan Whalen Turner and the world and characters she's drawn, this book hasn't quite *sold* me on the series yet. I plan on continuing, yes, but it's not a need-it-now kind of priority (though I have been warned that this book is not the best of the series).
8. (+) Writing - This prose is simplistic but not sparse. It's beautiful, textured, and evocative with all the details that Ms. Turner adds in to make the setting come alive and to add complexity to Gen's narrative and the mythology that she incorporates into the plot and world.
9. (+/-) Pacing - I mentioned that the beginning had a lot of info-dumps and that they're traveling for a good deal of the time. The book doesn't really pick up until about 6/10ths of the way through, and even then, there are a few lulling moments. Still, I can't completely fault the pacing because I honestly don't know what else could have been done, besides maybe adding more plot to this book and cutting back in that first half.
10. (+) The Cover - Yes for the treasure. Yes for Gen's dirty hands. Yes for the symmetry and elaborate design. (Though I do wish they'd done something to evoke the ancient Greek culture feel.)
This book was recommended to me because I like Shadow and Bone, Graceling, and Grave Mercy. I agree with these comparisons: it's clear that the political machinations of each are echoed in this story, the mention of gods and religion somewhat reminiscent of that in GM, and the simplistic but textured and detailed writing style very similar to Kristin Cashore's style. I would also recommend this book to those who were fans of Throne of Glass but who also wanted that story's focus to be less oriented on the ball/fairy-tale/romantic aspect. The Thief is a promising start to a series full of political intrigue and complex characters that I will be following into the sequel.