Review: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

The ThiefSynopsis from Goodreads.

The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief,and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities.
What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses

I decided to reread this after I nearly overdosed on jasmine green tea with Chachic. I’m probably going to need to explain this, aren’t I?

When I was flying back from Australia, I wanted to break up the ridiculous flight and I wanted to meet Chachic, who lives in Singapore and I figured, chances of me ever having the opportunity to meet one of my favourite people on the other side of the world is pretty slim. So we met and it was excellent because she’s excellent and she didn’t even mind me sweating all over her when I hugged her (it’s the hottest and most humid place in existence).


Here we are at Marina Bay Sands and it’s taken at a lovely distance so you can’t see how FLUSTERED and SHINY I am. Chachic looks wonderful, as per.


We were sitting in a lovely restaurant and she laughed at me while I attempted to use chopsticks (I said it was because I was tired because of jet lag and general going-home-emotional but I just can’t use chopsticks… never have, never will let’s move on) and the waitress poured us a gallon of jasmine green tea… each.

We were talking about books (naturally) and we managed to get onto this series because it’s one of Chachic’s favourite series. (She did a whole week on Megan Whalen Turner which is well worth a look because it has some AMAZING guest posts from AWESOME authors and bloggers!). I told her (confessed, shall we say) that I had stopped reading this series after only two books for no reason. And you should’ve seen the look she gave me.

Anyway, we’re friends now and I’m so glad I met her because she’s brilliant and you should follow her.

I’ve actually had this conversation with Melina when I met up with her in Sydney (I swear I went travelling for more reasons than just meeting up with my foreign friends) and she was AGHAST that I hadn’t read the end of this series. And, I’m about 88% sure she said that the fourth one (A Conspiracy of Kings) is her favourite. Marchetta trivia for you.


If you’re a longstanding reader of WtOC you’ll know that fantasy isn’t really my thing. Or… really, I say it’s not my thing but the more I think about it, the more I think it’s not necessarily true. Yes, it’s true that I I don’t actively look for fantasy books and I’m extremely picky with which series I do. But when I read a fantasy series and I enjoy it, I kind of get a bit obsessed (see here, herehere and here).

So the other day I was hankering after a fantasy book to read. I needed a book that would grab me and would take me on an adventure and my mind kept going back to this series.

Like I said, I’ve actually read this book and its sequel, The Queen of Attolia, before and I have a copy of The King of Attolia gathering dust on my bookshelf but I’ve not read it yet. I inexplicably stopped after The Q of A and now this series has developed an almost mythical status in my head. The Q of A really tripped me up as a reader and challenged everything I thought I knew about how you could tell a story and it was quite possibly one of the most vivid reading memories of my life.

Sorry, this sounds all very dramatic, doesn’t it? But at the time… wow. I think maybe I didn’t carry on because I was nervous: nervous what else Megan would do to me and where she would take the story but also nervous that The K of A wouldn’t live up to the holyohmygoodness -ness of the first two books.

Then I realised I needed to stop being such a bloody wimp and just get over it and read it.

So this is a review of a re-read. A re-review?

I’m going to be gloriously vague because, like most fantasy books, I find it’s best to go into the story without knowing anything about it.

But it’s the tale of Gen, a thief, who can steal anything. The King’s magus decides that he’ll put this to the test and tells him to steal a rock called Hamiathes’ Gift. And that’s all I’m saying.

Megan has one of the most amazing talents for storytelling. I think in anyone else’s hands this book would fall flat. On face value, nothing really happens for the first part of the book. OK, maybe that’s not fair. Things happen, of course, but it’s all build up. It’s unassuming. It’s safe. But somehow, as we follow Gen and the gang to temple where the rock is said to be hidden, it’s absolutely riveting. The world is created around them and I couldn’t stop reading. There’s no immediate baddies but there’s this unknown threat that looms above them. Megan creates this false sense of security and then…

And then…

And then.

I’ve always loved a good twist. I’ve always wanted to write a book with an amazing twist. One that makes the reader stop and say, out loud, ‘No bloody way” and then text all their bookish friends like WHAAAAT.  The kind that makes them flip back to the beginning and re-read bits to see if they could have guessed what was about to happen. See if they could find something to give them a clue, if only they knew what to look for.

I loved reading this book again. Even though I knew what was coming, I still found it compelling. And it was nice to see Gen again. I’d missed him.

I am nervous to re-read The Queen of Attolia because I remember what happens. And I remember that bit. And I remember how I felt after reading that bit. And I remember feeling that I’ve never felt that shocked by a book before.

And then I remember the last page.

And then…

And then…


4 thoughts on “Review: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

  1. OMG Melina and I both persuaded you to read the rest of MWT’s books! I can’t believe it. Great minds, huh? HAHAHA.

    That jasmine tea experience is hilarious. We could have gotten away with just ordering jasmine tea and we would have been full. Come to think of it, I haven’t been back to Din Tai Fung since we went there together. Again, it was SO LOVELY to meet you! I’m super happy that you decided on a stopover in Singapore. I hope it was a good overall experience for you even if we nearly melted from the heat. :D

  2. Oh my God! I have these books on my reading list, but if there was any doubt before I am DEFINITELY going to read them now. I may have to move them higher on my list after reading this :D

  3. I just read the first two books in the Queen’s Thief series last week! But I didn’t have as good a reading experience as you did. I wanted to love it… I just couldn’t. :(

    But, yes, I was also 100% shocked by That Bit. And really pleased with The Last Page. I love Gen and I love the Queen, but I love who they are in my imagination more than I love who they are on the physical pages, if that makes any sense!

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