Today’s book is The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

So far in my book challenge, it has not been hard to read a book (or more than one) a week. This week, however, was the first week that I struggled– perhaps because I wasn’t feeling all that well, or maybe because I felt slightly bogged down by the huge pile of library books on my dining room table. So I chose this book because it seemed like something fun, and indeed, it was.

The Thief is actually a Young Adult book– but as many of you who are avid readers know, some of the best literature out there is being written for children these days. The book was a Newbery Honor award winner in the last 1990s and is the first part of a trilogy.

Having read this first book, I think I am going to have to finish the trilogy.

Okay, so the book starts with the main character, Gen, who is languishing in a prison. He is a thief who was caught for stealing the king’s seal. Gen is sprung from prison by the King’s Magus (a sort of educated councillor) who needs a skilled thief to steal Hamiathes’s  Gift– a rock given by the Gods that bestows the right of rule on the wearer. The little problem about this is that the rock has to be stolen from the Gods themselves.

The book is set in a fantasy world that seems to be one part Ancient Greece/Rome, and one-part Enlightenment-era Europe. It is clearly based off of the Mediterranean countries (the countless references to olive trees, yogurt, and the sunshine make sure of that.) Turner also creates an intricate pantheon of Gods (much like the Greek and Roman Gods) that are revealed to the reader as the Magus, Gen and a small party journey to the place where Gen is to steal Hamiathes’s Gift. The stories of the Gods and their particular subplot in the story are intricate and tightly written.

The book is told in the first person (from Gen’s point of view) and initially he is a bit unlikable. He a smart-ass and troublesome, but as the book proceeds, he evolves, as do his motivations and background (which you discover little of until about the last third.) The other characters evolve over time too, and Turner does a great job of portraying them evenly and realistically. The book moves forward evenly, if a little slow at the beginning but once you get past the middle it is hard to put down. Turner’s writing is brisk and succinct. She does not give over to overly flowery prose–instead it is tight and intricately plotted storytelling that she sticks to.

I won’t give away the ending, but to say that it has a surprising and throughly enjoyable twist. This book was great fun to read and I enjoyed it — and I think it is a fabulous book for pre-teens to young teenagers.  There are many themes in it but the main one is power. Turner carefully explores all of its intricacies– the power between people, between kingdoms and what happens when one challenges those perceived notions of power. A fun book and it helped to get me out of my reading funk.

Ciao for now,

Bookish C