Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Thief - Megan Whalen Turner

Title: The Thief
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2005 (Paperback)
Length: 280 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: January 4, 2010
Finished: January 6, 2010

From the author's website:
The most powerful advisor to the King of Sounis is the magus. He's not a wizard, he's a scholar, an aging solider, not a thief. When he needs something stolen, he pulls a young thief from the King's prison to do the job for him.

Gen is a thief and proud of it. When his bragging lands him behind bars he has one chance to win his freedom-- journey to a neighboring kingdom with the magus, find a legendary stone called Hamiathes's Gift and steal it.

Simple really, except for the mountains in between, the temple under water, and the fact that no one has ever gone hunting Hamiathes's Gift and returned alive.

The magus has plans for his King and his country. Gen has plans of his own.

This is the first book in The Queen's Thief series. I have heard nothing but complete love for these books, and since this first book was first released in 1996 when I would not have known about it, I decided to give them a try.

Eugenides aka "Gen" is a trickster and a liar, boasting that he can steal anything, which lands him in the dungeons of the King of Sounis. The king assembles a team to go and steal something they're not sure even exists, and he recruits Gen to do the stealing. The five men travel from Sounis through Eddis and Attolia in search of Hamiathes' Gift, a stone with the symbolic power to pass on the kingship of Eddis to anyone that receives it (hence why the King of Sounis wants it).

Narrated by Gen himself, it's almost impossible to not like his voice. He reminds me of those teenage boys I teach that are nothing but trouble, but they're so charming in their manner that you can't help but like them anyway. The magus and the others believe Gen is their tool but little do they realize that Gen is more than what he seems.

There were a few slow-moving parts, usually in the beginning when scenery is described, but for the most part the action moves along quite well. The universe in which the characters live is medieval yet slightly modern (they use guns and wear watches) with a belief system modeled on the Greek gods with some name changes and original names. The detail put into this background of gods and goddesses is quite impressive, including some original myths written into the book as stories the characters tell each other.

The twist at the end will completely surprise you and leave you wanting to read more, hence why I'm cracking open The Queen of Attolia (second book) once I'm done this review.

If you're looking for a good fantasy quest story with a funny narrator, read this!

Thoughts on the cover:
Thank heaven they reprinted The Thief with a new cover around the time when the third book was released. When you have a series that covers 14 years between the first book (1996) and the last book (2010), you're gonna see a prime example of changing cover art for the better. The first three books are done in this new cover style with the title at the bottom with the flowing design around it, it brings a more regal and sophisticated look to the books. The cover illustrations look as if they could be from classic paintings, which adds even more fancy to the look.

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