Tag Archives: Megan Whalen Turner

Return of the Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner

Eugenides, Thief of Eddis, married the queen of Attolia, and now, through a series of unimagined twists and turns, he is the high king of the entire peninsula, including Eddis, Attolia, and Sunis. His cousin is queen of Eddis, and his friend is king of Sunis. The powerful Medes are not happy to see the little countries unified, and so they launch an attack that may end them all.

Pheris is the young heir to Baron Erondites’ family, and his grandfather berates his mother for not killing the crippled boy when he was a baby. Eugenides has asked for the baron’s heir to be raised at the palace in order to create a bond with this dangerous family, but everyone thinks that the heir is Pheris’ younger brother. When Pheris arrives, drooling on the floor, Gen sees something in him that no one else does. Even though he realizes that the Baron sent him to humiliate the new king, Eugenides insists that he stay in the capital. The entire book is written as Pheris’ journal.

Megan Whalen Turner does not rush to get a book out every year, so when she does publish a new title, it is An Event. In October, after twenty years of writing, she released the last of six titles in her beloved “The Queen’s Thief” series, Return of the Thief, and it is a perfect resolution. The title has many meanings, only the first of which is the return of Eugenides as the main character of the story. “Gen” has often been voted the best hero of YA literature, and readers missed him in a couple of earlier volumes when Turner focused her story on secondary characters. Now, however, he is front and center, but the title also hints at the deep character study Turner unfolds throughout the story. All human beings are more complex than meets the eye, but brilliant and powerful people are able to indulge their desires in ways that may be dangerous to those around them, and the revelation of one’s darker nature can be unsettling, even to those who love them. Eugenides is a king, but before his ascension to the throne, he was born to be a Thief.

This series has never fit comfortably in the Young Adult category, and this particular volume continues the political intrigue and subtle deception while adding thoughtful explorations of marriage and other adult relationships. “The Queen’s Thief” is set in a pseudo-ancient Greek world, with rugged terrain, hot weather, and a panoply of pagan gods and goddesses. The series reads mostly as historical fiction, but it slips into fantasy territory with the occasional visitation from the gods. Eugenides is startled to discover that he is not the only person able to see the goddess Moira.

I cannot recommend this series highly enough for everyone from smart young teens to adults. The layered plots and intricate relationships stand up to repeated readings, as I can attest after reading earlier volumes over again as each new one came out. It is best to read them in order, as they are not stand-alone novels, and the details are complex. Turner certainly stuck the landing. The last few pages and the epilogue fairly sing off the pages.

*Postscript: The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Disney has picked up The Thief for the screen. It will be tough to do the books justice. Here’s hoping!

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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Thick as Thieves, by Megan Whalen Turner

Thick As ThievesAlthough he was a slave, Kamet was more than satisfied with his life as secretary to the brother of the heir to the throne of the Mede empire. He is well-educated, well-dressed, and well fed. He is even amassing his own personal library, and when the new emperor ascends to the throne, who knows? He may be given to him as a gift. Aside from the occasional beating, Kamet was a man of authority.

When his beloved Laela pulls him aside in the hallway to whisper that their master had been poisoned, he panics. Slaves are always tortured when a murder has been committed, and many are killed when their masters die of any cause. Kamet decides to accept an Attolian’s offer to help him escape, leaving all of his possessions behind. This journey has none of the royal accoutrements to which Kamet is accustomed; there is hunger, danger, and endless fatigue. Furthermore, Kamet had only intended to escape his master’s guards. Now he has to figure out how to escape from the Attolian.

Thick as Thieves is the latest volume in the brilliant, award-winning “Queen’s Thief” series by Megan Whalen Turner. Although this book stands on its own, readers of the earlier episodes will recognize Kamet as a minor character whose life now moves to the center of the action. The identity of the man called “the Attolian” almost all the way through will slowly become clear. After Kamet endures experiences that change him into a much wiser man, the reader will delight to see many earlier characters gathered together to resolve the mystery of why an officious, little scholar would be so important to an enemy king.

“The Queen’s Thief” remains one of my favorite series in young adult literature. I have reviewed the entire series here. I am looking forward to meeting Megan Whalen Turner at Book Expo in New York next week, and I’ll be sure to ask her several nervous questions about the fate of a couple of my favorite characters. Some of her hints at the end of this book have me on pins and needles!

Very highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I read an advance reader copy of this book, although I hope to obtain a signed copy next week! Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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The Queen’s Thief series, by Megan Whalen Turner

the-thiefThis is a public service announcement from Reading Central. Megan Whalen Turner writes what is quite probably the best current series of books for young people. In any case, it is certainly my favorite. And while other authors put out a title every year—or in the case of James Patterson and his committees, a book every two weeks—Ms. Turner only publishes every four or five years, so when she has a new book, it is An Event. So, I am hereby announcing that the fifth volume of “The Queen’s Thief” series is due to come out this May.

Why am I telling you this now, rather than just writing a book review in May? Because you need to catch up! There are four books to read in the next two months, so get to it! I am just about to start re-reading the second one. In order, they are:

  • The Thief
  • The Queen of Attolia
  • The King of Attolia
  • A Conspiracy of Kings

Only the first volume, The Thief, seems to be a book for teens. The main character, Eugenides, who has been in prison for theft for several months, is suddenly yanked out into the screaming light of day and conscripted for a special mission with the Magus. A small group of men travel for weeks through rough terrain so that “Gen” can break into an ancient temple and retrieve a stone with mystical powers that can confer immortality on the sovereign who holds it, but can kill anyone who tries to steal it.

The setting is a group of small countries that resemble Greece several centuries after its golden age, with ruined temples and olive groves. So, although it has horses and warring monarchs, it is not at all like the scores of faux-medieval fantasies on the market. Furthermore, it is set in a re-imagined past, with bits of supernatural elements, such as gods and goddesses, but there are no vampires, zombies, or fairies. Rather, it is more a book of political intrigue. After The Thief, the series is more adult than teen, with marriages, diplomacy, spies, and assassinations. This is the perfect series for your kids who are advanced readers if you do not want them exposed to the more seamy side of young adult literature. The language is fine, there are no explicit sex scenes, and Turner does not seem to have an agenda of any kind. So refreshing! On the other hand, the vocabulary is rich, and the plot is complex and challenging.

Why is this the best series out there?

  • Eugenides is one of the most incredible heroes in literature. He has likeable and unlikeable characteristics, is much smarter than he lets on, and is completely unpredictable. In short, he is wickedly cool.
  • Nothing, absolutely nothing, is as it seems. You will be surprised. Turner’s writing is so complex and subtle that you will miss the hints she puts out there and will suddenly be shocked and need to go back and re-read. And…
  • It completely stands up to re-reading. I just finished The Thief for the third time, and I picked up details that I had missed before. It is such a pleasure to read.
  • It is appropriate for everyone, adults and teens, male and female. The only reason that tweens and younger may not be the best audience is because they may not understand it. Otherwise, it is fine for a family read-aloud.

I hope that is enough to send you to the bookstore or library. I was so thrilled to find out that I will have an opportunity to meet this author at SLJ’s Day of Dialog in May, and I hope to post a review of the latest volume, Thick as Thieves, before then!

Read on!

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