Series: The Queen's Thief #1
Published on 1996
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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 theif'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.
Megan Whalen Turner weaves Gen's stories and Gen's story together with style and verve in a novel that is filled with intrigue, adventure, and surprise.
I received a copy of this book from The Co-op Bookshop in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I was drawn to read The Thief because I’d heard amazing things about its sequel, The Queen of Attolia, and I wanted to get into the series and see what everyone was so excited about.
The Thief is the story of a – you guessed it – thief named Gen who is forced into using his considerable talent against his will for the benefit of a king he’s not particularly loyal to. Gen was a likeable character if not an entirely reliable narrator and I think that helped elevate the story. Out of the other characters which were overwhelmingly men, there were several I never grew warm to and one I never could quite figure out. Luckily Gen can carry the novel with the strength of his narrative and his integrity, even as a thief with honour. He was a likeable protagonist who worked hard and had a problem with giving up, which I found appealing.
During the road trip part of the novel there’s a lot of world building including vivid descriptions of geography and mythology retold by the various characters. At first I thought all of the world building was slowing the story down a little, but during the unfolding of the narrative it soon became clear why I was handed so much information. Particularly the geographical notes were essential to one of the puzzles Gen had to figure out, and I loved the originality in mythology, and I think it helped create quite a firm idea of Gen’s world.
I loved the way Turner combined several out-of-time real-world items to create her own world. While not based on the Greek Pantheon of gods and goddesses, the landscape was clearly Greek inspired and with inventions from all over time including gunpowder, the pocket watch and the printing press all smushed together in one book it is clearly not based on any particular time period or place, but it works together as one cohesive story.
I found the pace to be a little slow even when there was a deadline for narrative goals, but it was certainly worth pushing through those slightly dull moments to finishing the book and I think it was a great introduction to what I predict will be an enjoyable, imaginative and original fantasy series.