I've been told by so many people that this series is amazing, but that the first book is kinda lackluster. I didn't know much more than that going into The Thief, and perhaps that's why I enjoyed it more than others seem to. Importantly, I didn't know there was a twist at the end and so I didn't see it coming and also didn't spend my time trying to figure out what it was. I just enjoyed the ride.
The Thief follows Gen, the eponymous trickster, as he is forced to journey through multiple countries with the king of Sounis' advisor and his apprentices to retrieve the mythical Hamiathe's Gift, said to bestow the right to rule Sounis' neighbouring kingdom of Eddis on whomever posseses it. The bulk of this book is taken up with the journey itself, and I've seen multiple reviewers complain of the slowness of the narrative as a result. Perhaps because I was using this book as a break from the snail's pace of Picnic at Hanging Rock, I actually didn't find it particularly slow. Sure, there's a lot of description of winding roads, meals of bread and cheese and a helluva lot of olive trees, but thanks to Megan Whalen Turner's strong writing, it all managed to maintain my interest.
The characters also helped negate the potential tediousness of the journey for me. Gen is an unreliable but compelling narrator. His voice is strong, and his cheeky arrogance is somehow endearing. His travelling companions are a curious bunch, each hiding their own secrets. I only wish there had been a girl or two as part of the party - it was very male-centric for most of the story. But at least this is somewhat balanced by the fact that the women who do appear are all very powerful.
Maybe I'm getting stupid, but as I already mentioned I didn't see the twist coming, and there are a few threads that left me a bit confused. Nevertheless, The Thief was an enjoyable read that has me excited for the rest of the series, especially as it apparently gets even better. Now excuse me while I go hunt down some olives and cheese. All that reading about them has made me hungry...
Spoilery Talking Point
- The part I'm a little unsure about regarding the "twist" is how much Gen actually planned. Did he deliberately get caught because he knew the magus would use him to retrieve Hamiathe's Gift? Or was it a lucky coincidence? The magus mentioned he probably wanted to make a name for himself, but I wondered if it was more than that. Did his queen or his father send him to Sounis with that intention all along, or was he acting on his own? I would have liked more explanation. But like I said, maybe I'm just getting stupid.
I'm a bit obsessed with Joe Demspie after watching Skins and Game of Thrones recently, so that's who I pictured as Gen.
Published: 2005, Greenwillow Books (first published 1996)
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