When I began reading The Thief, I didn’t understand what kind of book it was. It was a simple quest story, I thought–basic YA fiction, with a little fantasy thrown in, just like any number of books I’ve read recently.
Then I got to the end of the book and discovered just how wrong I was.
The Thief is a “thinking” book. If you are reading it on autopilot, as I was, you are going to feel very stupid at the end. Because our protagonist Gen (the titular Thief) is a sneaky sneaky bastard and also kind of an unreliable narrator.
Don’t worry, by the third book, I managed turn my brain on. I’ve got your number now, Gen.
The Queen’s Thief is a YA fantasy series by Megan Whalen Turner, also known as the Attolia series, currently consisting of 4 books: The Thief (a Newbery Honor book), The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings.
This series has a small but devoted following; I have been wanting to read it for awhile but had a hard time finding it at libraries. I finally discovered my library has digital copies for Kindle, and I read the whole series in a month or so.
The Thief, as I said, covers a simple quest, but the sequels spin out to develop the complex political landscape of 3 neighboring countries (Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia), as well as the complex character of some of their inhabitants. I have never read another series where direct sequels are so different from each other, in terms of tone, narration, scope, etc. (I would say Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series, but those aren’t direct sequels, more companion books.)
I think that’s one of the strengths of the series, always pushing forward into new territory, but knowing when to go back to familiar places and characters.
And the characters are wonderful. I did not like Gen at first, because he’s shown as the kind of person that messes with people just because he can. I can’t stand people like that. But I love his path of growth through the series; in the later books, he’s still messing with people, but usually for a greater purpose. Gen is always playing a long game. It’s your job as the reader to figure out what the game is.
While I have great respect for Gen’s cleverness, loyalty, and many skills, he doesn’t even top my list of favorite characters from these books:
- The magus of Sounis
This list probably looks quite different from those of other readers’, but that just speaks to how deep the cast of characters is, and how 3-dimensional they all are. And while most of the “main” characters are male, there are some really awesome women in this series, too (3 out of 7 on my list).
The world building is also excellent. The setting is based on Classical Greece, and the world even has its own pantheon of god and goddesses. This is where the fantasy aspect comes in, because these beings pop up from time to time with some of their divine magic. I loved how the myths of culture (very similar to Greek myths) are woven into the narrative of the books.
I really can’t pick a favorite book out of this series, partly because they are so different, so I will simply recommend the whole series to anyone who likes smart YA with some politics and light fantasy.
Tl;dr 4.5/5 stars–Put your critical thinking cap on for this wonderful YA series flavored with ancient Greece