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THIEF THE by Megan Whalen
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THIEF THE

by Megan Whalen

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It’s easy to find something to say about a thing you hated, because usually you hated one particular thing or another. It’s also easy to talk about things you liked, because you usually liked one particular thing or another.

I’ve always found it hard to say something about things that I truly, deeply love. Things that have no faults in my mind. Things that don’t have a favorite part, because the whole thing is my favorite part. My favorite books are always the ones I have the least words for, and it never ceases to frustrate me.

But, having finished the four books that are currently out, and having found a new favorite series and author in the process, I felt I needed to say something.

This review covers my thoughts on every book in the series, because for some strange reason that felt like the right way to do this, even though that’s not something I’ve ever seen anyone do before. I’ve been sure to include spoiler tags though, so don’t worry.

The Thief (4.5/5)

The first book is a cute little fantasy story about a thief and an artifact as old as the gods themselves that he’s tasked with stealing in order to gain his freedom after he’s caught bragging about a royal seal he stole right from under a king’s nose.

It draws heavily on Greek mythology and culture, and the setting is directly inspired by Greece, as said by the author herself. It’s an interesting aesthetic that you don’t see a lot in fantasy. It also has a great plot twist at the end that makes you rethink everything you’ve just read.


The Queen of Attolia (5/5)

In book two Megan changes it up. Instead of a first person narration from the point of view of our thief, Gen, it’s switched to third person. This was a smart move, because the second book is deeper and wider than the previous. Focusing on complex political situations between the three countries introduced in the first book and a potential invader from outside their borders.

This results in multiple viewpoint characters such as the queens of Attolia and Eddis, and all are equally interesting. The main character, Gen, suffers the loss of his dominant hand early on and it takes him a while to work through, but his character arc is both magnificent and enthralling. He basically accepts his handicap and the fact that there’s always going to be certain things he can’t do, but realizes that his mind is his greatest asset, and so goes from, “I can steal anything” to, “I can plan anything” and becomes a general and tactician without compare. In the end he comes up with a plan to steal the queen of Attolia herself, right out from under the noses of her guards in her own Megaron. So freaking cool.

In order to provide political stability and stave off the threat of the Mede, Gen gains the queen of Attolia’s hand in marriage, creating an alliance between Atollia and Eddis. He does this first through cunning, then through honest, heartfelt love. It’s a romance that’s unique, complex, and doesn’t feel tacked on as so many romance subplots in books often can.


The King of Attolia (5/5) (Personal Favorite)

I think the thing I like the most about this series is how each book continues Gen’s story, but doesn’t repeat it. The second book completely switches the point of view it’s told in, because that was the only way it could work. That’s how different it was. While the third book isn’t quite that different, it does feel almost like a different genre. Gone is Gen’s angst and military strategies. Instead we get courtroom conspiracies and assassination attempts as a kingdom rejects its new king and the king strains against his new responsibilities, all the while fixing the country’s biggest political issues the only way he knows how—by being clever, ruthless, and a better liar than everyone else.

The most interesting thing about this book is that we, as readers, are mostly viewing events from the point of view of a guard named Costis. Early on he punches Eugenides in the face in a moment of anger and rather than executing him, Gen makes him one of his personal guard.

Costis, of course, doesn’t know that Gen and Attolia really love each other. He doesn’t know Gen isn’t as incompetent (quite the opposite, in fact) as he appears, or that he’s fixing Attolia’s corrupt government in his own, secret way. He finds out slowly, just like us, and the way his view of the king changes over the course of the book is fascinating.

One of my favorite things in fiction is when somebody is underestimated, and then that moment when the person who did the underestimating sees how wrong they truly were. That happens constantly in this book, as Costis and the rest of the Attolians get small glimspes behind the mask of an incompetent, flippant king that they despise and see the real man underneath—the cunning, ruthless, former Queen’s Thief of Eddis. The man who can steal anything, even a queen and a country. Even political stability. Even the hearts and minds of a people who hated him since his first day on the throne.


A Conspiracy of Kings (4/5)

Remember Sophos? That timid kid that joined Gen for his first adventure with the Magus, way back in book one? Yeah, I kind of forgot about him too, seeing as how he made no appearances past the first book, but Megan wanted to make sure we didn’t forget about him for too long. He is the heir to Sounis, after all, which is I guess kind of important.

This book is more similar to the first book in the series in both story and structure than the previous two books were. It’s back to first-person perspective instead of third (technically three small portions of the book at the beginning, middle, and end are written in third), as we, the readers, as well as Gen are told Sophos’ story from his own lips (you may remember some off-hand comments about him disappearing during the last book The King of Attolia. Well now you get to know exactly what happened, starting with his kidnapping, the death of his entire family, and a beating to the face so bad it permanently disfigures him. Yay?).

Unfortunately Sophos is not as interesting as Gen, and I found the beginning of the story (which deals with his kidnap, escape, and time serving as a slave) to be pretty boring. About a hundred pages in things finally start to pick up and from then on it becomes a pretty good book. The first-person switches to third when we catch up to Sophos in the palace of Attolia as he tries to get Gen to agree to help him take back his country. Unfortunately Gen isn’t as helpful as he expected, and he makes him pledge his loyalty to Attolia. But nonetheless he does give him some soldiers, some advice, and sends him on his way. The book then switches back to first-person from Sophos’ perspective again and becomes mostly a military strategy book as Sophos recounts how he managed to win the loyalty of his barons and drive back an army of ten thousand Medes. It was pretty cool, if a bit too drawn out and technical for my taste.

In the end Sophos marries Eddis, thus joining the three countries together so that they can finally be united against a potential Mede invasion (which will probably happen since Sophos shot a Mede ambassador).

All in all it was a solid book. My only major problem with it was that Sophos wasn’t as interesting as Gen, so writing a book from his first-person perspective was, in my opinion, a poor choice. The switches between first and third person were a little jarring as well, and I found myself wishing the entire book was written in third, because that’s what Megan is best at, regardless of who the point of view character is. Ultimately though its worst problem is that it was a follow-up to two flawless, amazing books.


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  ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060824972, Paperback)

"I can steal anything." So declares Gen, the hero of the Newbery Honor Book The Thief—an exciting adventure fantasy set in a mythical land rich with intrigue. Gen's bragging lands him in prison . . . but then the king's magus needs the thief's skill for a near-impossible task: to steal a priceless magical jewel from a faraway land. "In addition to its charismatic hero, this story possesses one of the most valuable treasures of all—a twinkling jewel of a surprise ending," wrote Publishers Weekly in a starred review.

The first of six planned books set in Gen's world, The Thief was an ALA Best Book of the Year as well as a Newbery Honor Book. School Library Journal said, "YAs who like snide, quick-tempered, softhearted heroes will love Gen," and Kirkus Reviews called it "an uplifting book, a literary journey that enriches both its characters and readers."

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(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 13 Jun 2016 13:51:36 -0400)

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