The Thief (The Queen’s Thief #1), Megan Whalen Turner

“A thief never makes a noise by accident”

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.

* * * 
3 / 5

This book has a lot of rave reviews, but to be honest it’s not that great. I gave it three stars because I enjoyed how it reminded me of reading slightly bad fantasy novels in the 2000s – character who is weirdly good at something with little explanation, a band of sidekicks, bizarre worldbuilding, full of myths and legends, and totally odd/implausible plot twists. The Thief was an odd little book, definitely fun but no shining example of great fantasy literature.

Clocking in at around 250 pages on tiny paper, The Thief is a small book. At least 150 pages of it are taken up by travelling – if you’ve read fantasy novels you know the drill – walking, eating, camping, fighting, and stories around the fire. We meet Gen in prison, locked up for stealing from the King. Renowned as a thief, Gen is released by the King’s scholar, the magus, who wants him to steal an ancient stone. The team includes Pol, a swordsman, and the magus’ two apprentices Sophos and Ambiades.

 

“I wanted Ambiades to understand that I considered myself a hierarchy of one”

Gen is witty and tough and a decent narrator, but the story takes a goodly while to get going. The side characters don’t really help to add much spice to the narrative – the only one I really liked was Sophos, who is kind and sweet and a bit useless. The rest are either irritating or flat as a board. I did enjoy the Greek setting and the inclusion of lots of cool myths of Turner’s invention, and the plot picked up around the three quarter mark.

The Queen’s Thief series gets a lot of praise, but unfortunately The Thief didn’t astound me. The rest of the series is rumoured to be excellent, so I will be trying the next book.

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