Michele Gibney, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Michele Gibney)
Megan Whalen Turner was recommended to me by a friend who was reading the 4 book Queen's Thief series. I got the first one--The Thief--from the library and devoured it. They're a quartet from the 1990s that are YA fantasy. They're fabulous. It took me a while to realize what I loved most about them (and it's very much a writer/reader thing). So, in most books the narrator is either omniscient or transparent. Generally, all information is presented to you--the reader--and surprises are rare (maybe I'm reading the wrong books, but I read a lot of them [274 in 2011] and I am seldom surprised by plots). These books surprised me because she wrote them withholding information. Her characters might know something but they didn't share it. They didn't even hint at it most of the time. The reader would find out the truth only when it was revealed to other characters. There wasn't internal monologuing or a lot of wishy-washy debate happening in these books. They were straightforward, action moving forward, and then surprise! You weren't expecting that! The main character in The Thief--Gen--was also fantastic. Super smart, tricky, secretive, snarky, Some of my favorite character traits in a fictional world. I highly recommend at least the first two (The Thief and The Queen of Attolia) in the quartet to anyone who likes great story-telling and interesting surprises. I didn't love the third (The King of Attolia) and fourth one (A Conspiracy of Kings) as much. The third one adds an additional perspective which I wasn't fond of. And the fourth one is mostly about a side character from the first one which I was less interested in. But the first two I really really loved.
margaret dahm, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by margaret dahm)
Very densely plotted adventure set in a fictional medieval world. By not filling the story with extraneous details the plot directly pulls the story along. Very nice start to a rewarding trilogy. Reminds me a bit of Ursula LeGuin or Monica Furlong in style.
sarahpowell671, September 25, 2009 (view all comments by sarahpowell671)
This charming tale about a resourceful young thief will steal any reader's heart. Although it may have been written for children, by no means is The Thief childish. It's a wonderful adventure story that takes place in a well developed and historically realistic mock-Byzantine setting. Prepare to be amazed by the narrator, Gen: an impulsive, sarcastic, and above all intelligent young man who is underrated by everyone at first glance...including the reader. I found myself enchanted not only by Gen's off-center humor and ironic wit, but also by his thoughtfulness and unexpected compassion. This story is not so much about a character's growth and evolution, as about the growth and evolution of the reader's understanding of that character. Gen doesn't change much over the course of his quick and exciting quest in The Thief, but your opinion of him definitely will.
Although it was written as a standalone story, plan to read the next two (soon to be three) books in Turner's series, which are equally well plotted and have, perhaps, even more twists and turns than this one. Though still aimed at a younger audience, those books are more serious and mature, because Gen, as he grows up, is more serious and mature as well. (Also, if you have heard of the later books but haven't yet read The Thief, stop right now!! You MUST read these books in order if you want to appreciate all of the subtleties and sly references that the rest of the series contains...)
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"A king orders a young thief to carry out a near-impossible heist under threat of death. 'In addition to its charismatic hero, this story possesses one of the most valuable treasures of all — a twinkling jewel of a surprise ending,' said PW's starred review of this 1997 Newbery Honor book. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Children's Literature,
"Young readers will identify with the feisty, scornful Gen who pushes the boundaries of his captivity as much as he can (and is frequently punished for it). They'll also enjoy the sword fight scenes. However, this book isn't an easy reader; the writing is flowery and it's important to pay attention to explanations of intrigue and politics."
"This book will be popular with YAs who like adventure."
by School Library Journal,
"This book is sure to be a hot item with adventure and fantasy lovers, and YAs who like snide, quick-tempered, softhearted heroes will love Gen."
Because of his great skill at thievery, Gen lands in the King's prison. After months of isolation, kept sane only by his sharp intelligence, Gen is released by the King's Scholar, the Magus, who believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. The Magus needs the best thief in the land to help him steal it, and that thief is Gen. But Gen is also a survivor and a trickster--and he has ideas of his own.
< center> < i> < p> I can steal anything.< /p> < /i> < /center> < p> After Gen's bragging lands him in the king's prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king's scholar, the magus, needs the thief's skill for a seemingly impossible task — to steal a hidden treasure from another land.< /p> < p> To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.< /p>
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