Review: The Thief

Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Series: The Queen's Thief #1
Publication Date: December 27, 2005
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 220 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I didn't know what I was getting into with this one. I had asked my Twitter followers for high fantasy recommendations and Megan Whalen Turner came up several times. So I looked her up and decided to indulge in her Queen's Thief Series with the repeated reminders from both friends and fellow bloggers that while the first book is okay, the series happens to get better and better.

And with that in mind, I trudged through this book. In truth, it is a very quick read--closer to 200 pages than it is 300 pages. And it is certainly unique and enjoyable, but the beginning dragged greatly for me. I was literally about 52% of the way into the book before the novel truly got me interested, but after that, the interest and plot twists kept expanded and easily held my attention. It's such a shame that it literally took more than half the book for me to want to read this story, though. I had to wait until Gen had to go thieving for the magus to truly be enraptured. And while Turner eventually did wholly grab my attention, I wish the first half of the book was more engaging because Turner certainly has the skill to capture one's focus when she really wants to. In the beginning of the novel, the only part that truly interested me was the mythological stories that they shared around the campfires at night. As Turner noted in the book, this story is roughly based off of Greek culture. I found those to be refreshing, interesting passages that distracted from the slow pace of the beginning of the novel.

But I have to admit that I very much enjoyed Gen's character. I was a bit put-off by him in the beginning of the book. He seemed ungrateful and rude, a thief who was given a second chance at life when he was broken out of prison to go on an adventure who didn't understand the awesome deck of cards he was just dealt. However, as the book progressed I came to realize that Gen is actually some form of an amazing anti-hero. He's a criminal, but he's the intelligent hero in this story that often risks his life and seems to outsmart everyone--even if he does spend a good portion of this book antagonizing others and whining. He is not what you expect when you think of a hero, and that's what made him all the more interesting. It almost seemed that this clever thief was able to play the readers just as easily as he played his traveling companions--all of which who were enjoyable for different reasons (especially Pol and Sophos) aside from Ambiades. The names sound very Greek, no?

It took a slight while to adjust to Turner's writing style as well. The first half of the book was pages and pages of explanations, thoughts that weren't spoken allowed, with a spattering of dialogue. I think that this is the reason that the first half of the book dragged for me. It was a lot of Gen observing his surroundings, the people he was with, testing them and explaining what he wanted to do in his mind. His thoughts, more of his thoughts, and even more of his private thoughts. Dialogue was desperately needed in many different sequences. Once it came and the detail was put to better use by describing awesome ancient layers than the rocks that they were passing or the feel of riding on horseback, the book got to be much better. And surprise, surprise, the dialogue was actually really great aside from the times that the magus threw himself into his long-winded educational speeches. But, hey, isn't that expected of a magus to begin with?

The plot twists were actually littered throughout the entire novel, but they weren't exposed as one huge grand scheme until the end of the book. And I must admit, the epiphany shocked me and was totally great at the same time. The full circle took this average and slightly boring beginning up to a good read with a mostly positive review. So, with that in mind, I eagerly plan on continuing this series with the knowledge that many believe that books two, three, and four outweigh book one in characterization, writing, and plot. If Turner exhibits the writing style that shown in the second half of this book in all of the future ones, I know I will love.

3 stars


1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to read this! I hope that it will hold my interest enough for me to pick up the next books though!!