The Thief: A delightful mythic fantasy

Megan Whalen Turner The Thief Trilogy: 1. The Thief 2. The Queen of Attolia 3. The King of AttoliaYA young adult fantasy book review Megan Whalen Turner The ThiefThe Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

“I can steal anything.” With that boast, Gen sets into action a course of events that could affect kingdoms. When he boasts that he can steal the King’s Seal, and then delivers on his promise, he is arrested and thrown into prison, where he languishes until the King’s Magus approaches him with an offer: freedom if he can steal Hamiathes’s Gift, a legendary stone that carries with it the right to rule the kingdom of Eddis.

Megan Whalen Turner writes a delightful mythic fantasy that takes the reader on a secret journey through a country whose culture and religion are loosely based on Ancient Greece. Turner’s land appeals to all the senses; The stench of the prisons, the heat of the sun, and the splendid views of ancient olive tree fields come off the page and play like a movie in the reader’s mind. The landscape, both physically and spiritually, is a vibrant part of the story.

The characters are very well done, from Gen (the whining gutter rat), to the Magus (the determined scholar), to Useless the Elder and Younger (Gen’s nicknames for the Magus’s two apprentices). The evolution of each character, and of the relationships between all the main characters, unfolds naturally and with believable adjustments to the trials they face.

The Thiefstarts a little slowly, but turns into a masterfully told tale of intrigue and adventure. In fact, I may have been late coming back from lunch the day I finished it because I was so sucked into the tale that I lost track of time. There are lots of twists and turns to the story. I saw one of them coming, but another took me completely by surprise. In retrospect, it seems completely in keeping with the story, which for me is a sign of good story telling, and not shoehorning in surprises just for the sake of a Big Reveal.

This is YA fiction that would appeal to a nine year old, but does not lose its appeal for adult readers as well. It is the first book in a trilogy, and I already have the second book on hold at the library so I can continue to follow the adventures of Gen.

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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  1. Sounds like something I’d like. Nice review.

  2. My YA son enjoyed this series (though he didn’t want to admit it because I chose it for him).

  3. King of Attolia is one of m favorite love stories. I reread it often. Thanks for bringing more attention to this excellent author (who writes too slowly for my tastes, but obviously she’s more concerned with writing a good story than with my reading schedule).


  4. Ok, I read this awhile back and I have some two cents to share. :) I enjoyed the story but absolutely hated the thief himself whatever his name was, until the end when I read the twist. Then I liked the book much better. However, it has never been much motivation to continue the series, although everyone’s praise of the King of Attolia makes me want to try it sometime. Thanks for the review. :)

  5. Yeah, I thought Gen was annoying until I got to the twist as well, and then I went back and read large sections of the book with an entirely new appreciation for what Turner had managed to pull off. The library just called and told me the next book in the series is in, so I’m going to go pick that up this morning. Stay tuned for future reviews!

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