REVIEW: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

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

Greenwillow, 1996

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.


The Thief was one of April’s Group Reads for the Goodreads We <3 YA Group. I had been meaning to read this book for a long time – I have heard really great things about the series – so this gave me the impetus to go ahead and check it out from the library and read it. And I enjoyed it a lot, even though it is a bit slow to get started.

When Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, escape comes in the form of an unlikely helper: the king’s scholar, the magus, requires Gen’s thieving ability to help him steal a magical artifact from a neighboring land. Little does anyone know that Gen has his own agenda, and is far cleverer than anyone is giving him credit for.

First off, as I mentioned above, this book is pretty slow to get started. The characters do nothing but travel, travel and travel for the vast majority of the first half. This could have easily gotten tedious – and at times it was – but the author broke it up by giving “history lessons” in the form of stories about the gods and goddesses, which – much to my love – were loosely based on the Greek pantheon. The traveling also helped develop the setting, which was also based on Greece. So while we could have had more “Harry, Ron and Hermione camped”, it didn’t quite turn into that, which I am very thankful for.

The travel also helped you get a better look at the characters. While Gen is our narrator, he’s fairly unreliable, for reasons I won’t mention in order to avoid spoilers. He’s also whiny, stubborn and downright irritating at times. But nonetheless, he’s truly enjoyable: I especially loved his witty comebacks and repartee with the magus. The secondary characters who join Gen on the journey were also fairly fleshed out, and each had something about them that made them memorable.

This story had a lot of twists and turns, lots of political intrigue (everything about this book is politically motivated, and I’ll say no more than that), and engaging characters. So do yourself a favor and pick up a copy, and trust me when I say that it does get better, so you’ll want to push yourself through the rather slow start. I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series.


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