Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

YA Fantasy Books
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Series: The Queen's Thief
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: October 31, 1996
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 280
Get it on Amazon
I really had to take a few days and think about The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner after I finished it. The ending was so unexpected that I couldn't process this story at all. But now that I have, I have so many feelings about this book and this style of bait-and-switch plotting that I need to just get it off my chest and move on with my reading. I just need to vent.

"And the Earth had no name. The gods know themselves and have no need of names. It is man who names all things, even gods." -The Thief

Gem considers himself the best thief in the world, even though he's been caught and been in the king's jail for quite some time. One day the magus, the king's adviser, comes and gets Gen out of jail for a quest to steal something. Only Gen has no idea where they are going or why. He is just seemingly along for the ride with the magus' group that includes his two apprentices and a bodyguard. They travel across their country into a neutral territory, Eddis, and finally into a hostile territory, Attolia. Gem eventually discovers they are searching for a rare stone that bestows legitimate rulership over the land. The magus believes he knows where the stone is and Gen will have to prove his skills in order to save their lives.

"It was a race between the tortoise and the hare, but the tortoise had just enough head start, and he had the magus to drag him along." -The Thief

There were a lot of good things going on in this book. First of all, Gen is quite an interesting character. He's smart, witty, sarcastic, and not easily manipulated. He has his own agenda and is much more clever than he lets on, but plays along with the magus because he's curious. Reading from his perspective keeps the long chapters of the group just traveling to Attolia much less boring than if we would have read from another character. Gen's experience is unique. Also, Whalen Turner is very good at weaving in ancient religious tales that immulate Greek and Roman mythology. The importance of these tales that Gen and the magus tell are apparent but the connection to the main story line isn't clear until the end of the book. Lastly, I really enjoyed the relationships and bonds that were formed between Gen and the magus and Sophos. They all had their place in the social hierarchy when their journey began, but became equals in respect and station at the end.

So, the thing that bothered me the most about this book was the secret that Gen keeps. The book is told from his perspective, but yet the reader knows nothing of this secret or his real plans. You would think reading in a first person POV, inside Gen's head, he would mention something. Think something about the real story. But no, there is no indication there is a second plot happening behind the scenes where Gen is in control. It is just thrown at you at the very end. There is no way a reader could have even potentially guessed what was going to happen because the clues weren't apparent and were very small. It's kind of a slap in the reader's face where the author is like "Ha ha, you were reading this one story but something else was really going on that you didn't know about!"

Despite the ending kind of being a cheap cop out, it does make sense. I think I might continue on with the series with caution. I don't want to be blindsided again. However, this book is very well written and interesting even when nothing important seems to be happening. I would recommend this book if you like YA fantasy or books dealing with ancient mythology. 4 stars

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