Rating: 3.5/5 Swords
The Thief is book one in The Queen’s Thief series written by Megan Whalen Turner. I decided to pick this book up after hearing good things from the book community on Instagram and a few other people I know.
The Thief follows Eugenides (who prefers to go by Gen), a thief whose boasting that he “could steal anything” ends with him being tossed in the King of Sounis’ prison. He is held there for weeks, not trying to escape in the least since he can’t seem to figure out a way out, which earns many taunts from the guards. The taunting ceases, however, when Gen is collected from his prison cell and sent to speak with the Magus.
The Magus has a proposition for him: help him and his team steal something for the King and be pardoned, or rot in the cell for the rest of his days or be executed — whichever they decide will come first.
With no other way out, Gen agrees to the deal, and shortly thereafter, he, the Magus, two scholars — Ambiades and Sophos, and a solider named Pol start on a long, perilous journey. While Gen knows that agreeing to the deal was the only way to free himself, it’s long into the journey before he knows what he’s expected to steal. And when he finds out, his hopes of being pardoned and freed are even slimmer than he thought.
The Magus wants him to steal a stone called Hamiathes’s Gift, which will help the King of Sounis secure the neighboring kingdom of Eddis and marry the superstitious Queen. But the stone is considered a mere myth, a fairy tale, and Gen does not think he’s a good enough thief that he can steal a stone that doesn’t even exist.
The Magus is confident in Gen’s abilities and in his sources that the stone is, in fact, real, and so the weary travelers press on for many days and nights. Eventually they reach the place where they must split ways, and Sophos, the Magus, Gen, and Pol must continue on foot to the location the Magus claims the stone will be.
Gen is shocked to find out that the place where the stone is supposed to be is real, and even more shocked when he ends up stealing the stone itself. But with stealing the stone comes great consequences. There are plenty of other rulers that would like to get their hands on the stone and the ones holding it, and one of the members of their group is not who he says he is. On top of that, Gen has his own secrets to hide. But with the stone now in their possession and so many games afoot, will he be able to keep all of his secrets from the light?
I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to like this book, but I have to admit… I just couldn’t get into it. It took me almost an entire month to read it, even though it’s relatively short, and I only finished it because people kept promising me it got better or that I would like it better at the end.
Up until the last 1/4 of the book, I didn’t care about any of the characters except for Sophos (so, a side character, not even the main character), and I had a love/hate relationship with Pol. I liked the soldier, but it was hard to care about him fully because there was never much mentioned about him. I hated Ambiades and the Magus, and I really, really disliked Gen. Since Gen’s the main character, obviously that was one of the main reasons why I had such a hard time getting into this book. Gen is incredibly whiny and pathetic throughout most of the book, and it frustrated me because when I think “fantastic thief”, I think of like a really sassy rogue who has a lot of backbone despite the situations he’s in. Gen had sass that turned into a whine, and while some could argue that he had a backbone to put up with and go on this journey, I didn’t really see it until the last 1/4 of the book.
Also, until the last 1/4 of the book where they reach the place the stone is supposed to be, they’re literally just traveling and arguing and telling stories and fighting among themselves. I was sorely disappointed in the lack of action in this book, which was the complete opposite of what the synopsis promised.
All of that being said, the last 1/4 of the book where the action picked up and the ending definitely redeemed some of the worst parts. I won’t go into too many details just because I don’t want to spoil anything, but Gen and even the Magus become infinitely more likable, for one. For another, there’s a huge plot twist that I didn’t really see coming, and it redeemed Gen’s character all the more. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, and if first 3/4 of the book had been like it, I probably would have liked this book better.
3.5 stars is my final rating, after the ending redeemed most of the book.
Have you read this book, or even the entire series? What were your thoughts?