Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Read: Mar. 2018
The Thief was the first book in my March Challenge to read 3 fantasy novels. It’s been on my TBR since Thick as Thieves came out last year and I heard that the series has gotten really good reviews. I’ve heard that the second book, The Queen of Attolia, is really the star of the series, so I wasn’t sure if The Thief would be that great, but I still really enjoyed it!
It’s a short book and it has a fairly simple plot, but it was a lot of fun! Gen claims to be able to steal anything, but he finds himself trapped in the King’s prison at the start of this novel. He’s very weak from being confined to the prison, with painful wounds on his ankles and wrists from the chains. But he’s offered a chance to get out of the prison when the King’s Magus appears to take him on a quest to steal an item for the King of Sounis. If Gen is successful, he’ll be granted immunity and allowed to walk free, the only catch is that he’s not told where they’re going or what they’re going to steal.
Gen sets off on a journey with the Magus, his 2 apprentices, and a solider, Pol, to steal an item of great value to the 3 kingdoms: Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia. This item will give Sounis a political advantage against their enemies. Gen isn’t interested in the journey or the task at hand, but he does want freedom, so he agrees to aid the Magus in his task.
I thought Gen was a fantastic character. He’s a bit full of himself and a bit dim-witted – he got thrown into prison because he spent too much time bragging in a wineshop about what a good thief he is. He’s got a dry sense of humour and his only real joys seem to come from eating and sleeping. He may be along for the journey, but he’s not going to make it easy on his captors. He knows that he has no real power, but he also knows that they need him, so he takes the opportunity to mess with them a little bit since they don’t want to see him harmed before he can steal for them.
It is a bit of a slow moving plot – there’s a lot of journeying and not a whole lot of action until the second half of the book, but I enjoyed the writing and the characterization. But the ending is what really made this a great book. The plot seems simple, but it’s the first of 5 books, so you know this book has to be setting up the rest of the story, and it is, but Turner puts in a great twist at the end to really give this book a meaningful start to the story.
It reminded me a little of Howl’s Moving Castle, one of my favourite middle grade books, in that a lot of seemingly random, unimportant stuff happens and it’s not until the end that you realize that all those incidents and conversations actually do mean something and that this book was actually a lot more complex and clever than you realized. You have a great epiphany at the end and everything comes together so well that you can’t help but be impressed with the structure and writing!
So definitely a great start to a new series, I’m just lamenting that I can’t jump right into the next book!