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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Turner, Megan Whalen. The Thief: The Queen's Thief, Book 1.

This YA book is a delightful! My first book for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge III proved to be exciting and fun with several great characters.

Gen, a young professional thief, finds himself incarcerated in prison for not only stealing the king's seal, but bragging about it to one of the kingdom's spies. The king's magus decides to release Gen and to use his skills to steal Hamiathes's Gift, a stone given by one of the gods that confers the right to rule on the possessor.

Gen, a filthy charmer, complains and carries on throughout the trip, alternately annoying and surprising his companions. He is funny, witty, whining, egoistical, clever, and clear-sighted-- immediately sizing up his fellow travelers. He refers to Ambiades and Sophos, the other two young people on the journey, as Useless the Elder and Useless the Younger.

A sort of hero's journey with an unlikely hero, this tale has as much emphasis on the characters as on the events. The quest is important and has some exciting moments, but the joy in the book is the characterization and wonderful dialogue.

I really enjoyed the myths associated with Hamiathes, Eugenides, and the gods, as told by either the magus or by Gen. Gen often contradicts the magus, professing to know more about the myths than the magus, which the magus finds amusing. Gen will occasionally win admiration from his companions and then turn around and lose all the ground he gains by stealing food or by other behavior that highlights his lower class sensibilities.

As with all good YA fiction, this book appeals to adults as well. It was a Newberry Honor Book in 1997 and deservedly so, as Turner does such a marvelous job with the characters and the plot. There is a section called Extras at the end of the book that includes a wonderful section about Turner's inspiration and her favorite books and authors.

I did not want the book to end and am delighted to know that there are two more in the series. And I've already ordered them!

Other reviews: Angieville, Literary Fangirl...

Fiction. Fantasy. 1996. 280 pages


  1. Good to know :) cos I never do know if a YA book will appeal to me or not, in most cases not.

    I guess I need to pick the right ones

  2. I was immediately drawn to the cover of this book and the content sounds quite intriguing! I will have to look for this one and the books that come after. Thanks for another great review, Jenclair.

  3. I have this out from the library right now. I really need to get around to reading it!

  4. This sounds amazing! And I hadn't heard of it before, I don't think. One more for the miles-long wishlist :P Not that I NEED to start another series, but I just can't resist.

  5. This sounds great but it's not at all what I thought it was about! ha. I must have confused this with another book. Another one for my list :)

  6. oooh thank you for the review.. i have this book in my tbr pile!! (somewhere!. got to dig it out!)

  7. Blodeuedd - I've read some pretty dull YA fiction, but thoroughly enjoyed this one!

    LF - I'm expecting the next two in the series any day!

    Kailana - I hope you enjoy it!

    Nymeth - Familiar feeling, that old book lust. This one is a quick read.

    iliana - I'll update you when I get through the rest of the series!

    DesLily - Yes, dig it out of that tbr pile and let me know what you think!

  8. I have seen this cover several times and never fail to appreciate just how cool it is. So much better to know that the story it houses is a worthy one.

  9. This book has been languishing, unread, on my shelf forever. Now I have to move it to the TBR pile! Thanks :-)

  10. Carl - This series is really good! I've begun The Queen of Attolia and am loving it. As soon as the books arrived yesterday, I had it open!

    Tasses - It was a Newberry Honor Book for a good reason!

  11. I've added this to my TBR list thanks to this review!

  12. Marg - It really is a fun and witty little book!

  13. there going to be a 4th book next year so anticipate that as well!! Jen

  14. The next two books are even better! And a fourth book is coming in 2010.

  15. anon - I was so pleased to hear that there is another one yet to come!

    Charlotte - I've finished them all now and agree that they get even better!