Thursday, December 20, 2012

A TWOFER: The Thief and The Queen of Attolia

Both of these reviews are spoiler free so they are safe to read if you haven't yet started this series (but if that still makes you nervous, just read the first one). I wanted to put them together to show you with my words how my thoughts on these books changed as I read deeper into the series. I started off loving Eugenides but skeptical about some of the choices the author made in building her plot, but the more I read, the more I got her vision and story. And the more I loved it. I'm three books in now and completely hooked. 

The Thief
by Megan Whalen Turner

Read: November 30 - December 2, 2012 
Published: Originally October 31, 1996 by HarperCollins
Source: Kindle Purchase
Category: Fantasy 
Series: The Queen's Thief book 1

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. (From Goodreads)

The set-up:
Gen "Eugenides" claims that he can steal anything. Unfortunately for him, he boasts about his abilities a little too loudly and lands himself in prison. Luckily he gains gains the attention of the wise man or magus to the king of Sounis, in whose prisons he is being held. The magus wants Gen to steal a treasure for him, and Gen agrees (he really doesn't have much of a choice.). That's how it all begins. 

My thoughts:
I adored Gen as soon as I met him. I love that he is clever and brave but also very flawed. He whines and complains, but is clearly intelligent and calculating about what he shares with the reader and the people he meets. Gen definitely earned his place on my list of favorite young male protagonists (Harry, Percy, Sage and Todd Hewitt are also on that list). Gen lives in a land that very much resembles Greece, both in the landscape and the way the society has been constructed. But this world is Megan Whalen Turner's unique creation. Along with Sounis, this region includes the countries of Eddis and Attolia. Gen and his companions journey through all three countries this book. 

Although I fell for Gen immediately, and was told by many fellow readers that this series is amazing, I must admit that I was a bit skeptical through most of The Thief. That is because it contains a tremendous amount of what could be called 'info dump.' It is cleverly disguised as lessons in history, agriculture, politics and mythology. But I kept wondering how important could all that information possibly be to this story?  

Despite my initial hesitation, I stuck with The Thief, and I am so thankful that I listened to the voices telling me to keep going. I think it's helpful to look at this book as the beginning of a tale. Every bit of information you learn in this story serves to enrich the society and world in which Eugenides lives. The further I've read into this series, the more I'm in awe of the care and attention that the author has put into building her world. Although every single piece of information doesn't come back around, much of it does, and the foundation for the rest of the series takes place in this book. And all the books are not released yet so you never know what you might need later. 

Not only do these lessons tell the reader about Eugenides' world, but they are also presented in a way that provides a glimpse of the characters in the book and the relationship between them. I felt like I got to know the individual players as I watched them interact with each other. I love books like this where you're not sure if  you should take what you see at face value or not. When you wonder if there's more going on than it appears. 

Since reading The Thief and plowing right through The Queen of Attolia, I've fallen in love with Megan Whalen Turner, Eugenides and the world in which he lives.

Cliffhanger Scale: Low
Love Triangle Factor: N/A

Rating: 4 stars

The Queen of Attolia
By Megan Whalen Turner

Read: December 3-4, 2o12
Published: October 1, 2001 by HarperCollins
Source: Library
Category: Fantasy 
Series: The Queen's Thief book 2

NOTE: Skip the book description next to the cover if you are new to this series.

When Eugenides (yoo-JEN-ə-deez), the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times. what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago... (From Goodreads)

This is one of those series that keeps getting better and more complex as it goes along. I only appreciated the wealth of information that I received in The Thief once I read The Queen of Attolia. And I have a feeling that I will only fully appreciate book 2 after I've read the third in the series. (<<<< I can eagerly confirm that statement.)

Megan Whalen Turner is a brilliant strategist. The way that she developed the landscape, culture and mythology of these three nations and the characters in the first book, then built upon that information to encompass political intrigue between four different countries, was amazing. I can't even believe how complex the plot of The Queen of Attolia is, and how intricately and carefully the story all works together. 

Eugenides is a great hero. He is moody and FEELS so much in this story, and I felt right along with him. Parts of his journey were very emotional for me. But he also only lets us see what he wants us to see, and he surprised me at several points in this book. 

One thing I love about this series is that in each book the narrative perspective is different. The Thief was told to us by Eugenides in first person singular form, while The Queen of Attolia is in third person limited and shifts between several characters, including Eugenides. This allows for greater complexity in the plot, and also serves to give the reader a fresh perspective on the characters and their world. I love getting to know characters from both an internal and external view point, and I was thrilled to see Gen in a different way in this book. 

Although I wouldn't call this book a romance, there is a love story that comes to play in this story. It is unconventional and unlikely for many reasons. Though I understand its potential to be amazing and am hopeful about it, the relationship still felt very uncomfortable when I finished this book. BUT as I've said, the brilliance of Turner's writing is the fact that it can take time to see all of the elements of the plot - and the whys - come together. I am eager to see what happens in the next book. (I have since read book 3 and it's even BETTER than this one. I am not making this up.)

Cliffhanger Scale: Low
Love Triangle Factor: Mild

Rating: 4.5 stars


  1. I was sold, sold, sold on this series first by the lovely Elizabeth Fama and then Adam-the-hard-sell, and then you just confirmed it all over again. So I love that you chose to write on this today. Everything that you write makes me even more excited to read these books because as we briefly discussed, I feel completely like this is another Asheley series.

    Also, those covers are really cool. Different for me, but cool.

    You mentioned that the author expects me to remember what she's written, though. So I'm wondering if I need to change-up the way I read for this bunch of books? This is important. I don't always remember minute details on the first reading and you know how I do that spacing-out thing with books in a series. PLEASE ADVISE.

    1. Yes. You will love this series for sure. And it is definitely high praise that those two tough critics like these books.

      As for whether you should read them together, no I think you'll be fine with your Asheley reading plan. Maybe I should re-word how I say that part of my review. She doesn't expect you to remember minute details. It's more that you may meet someone in passing and then they'll come back and be important later, and you would have ever known. Or something about the landscape will come up again. But I don't think it's anything that will confuse you if you don't read these back to back. You can read the books separately, but I think they appear more complex if you fit them together. It takes her 5 years to write each book, so that would be a lot of re-reading each time a new book comes out!

    2. I just took out that part of my review. It was confusing. I'll add it back if I can figure out how to say it correctly!

  2. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! :D I am so, so, SO glad you enjoyed this so much! It's an amazing series and your reviews do it so much justice. I should re-read them all and actually write reviews for them this time, but I suspect I won't be able to. ;) Gen is such an engaging and intriguing hero and The Queen of Attolia is such a breathtaking and surprising novel. I've re-read KoA so many times, but QoA is one I really should re-read since it has SO much going on within it. I love that Gen, unable to steal objects, makes it his goal to steal a nation or love. Gosh, Gen!<333 Anyway, fantastic reviews, Lauren! I can't WAIT to discuss CoK with you!!! :D

    1. THANK YOU!!!!!! I very much enjoyed discussing this series with you as well, and I will definitely let you know when I start Conspiracy of Kings! I think knowing it's from S's perspective ahead of time will help me like it better. And YES to what you said here. As much as my heart broke for Gen in this book, I LOVE how adaptable he is. LOVE your ENTHUSIASM :)

  3. I've never read anything by MWT but I know I really have to, especially after reading your reviews!

    1. These books are so fantastic! I hope you love them as much as I do.

  4. Reading all these reviews of one of my favorite series ever makes me smile. I love that other people are being introduced to this fantastic series and still loving it. You've hit so many reasons that I love this series. Eugenides is definitely one of my favorite male protagonists ever, and I love the Queens of Attolia and Eddis and all the supporting characters so much. I have a huge amount of respect for Megan Whalen Turner and am eagerly anticipating her fifth book.

    The only thing I am not as much of a fan of is how she does keep moving the perspective further and further away from Eugenides. Although I think it totally makes sense for have the perspective in third person in the second and Costis' perspective in the third, I miss being there with Eugenides as he achieves one amazing feat after another. Oh well. Still love this series!

    1. I understand your thoughts on the narrative perspective. Maybe knowing ahead of time that it would shift - and especially being warned about the fourth book - helped my expectations. I just love that this author has such a vast vision, and though Gen is at its heart, it is bigger than him. I think the story is so fresh because she writes each one differently. I do hope that we get back to him in the last two books of the series though. But it's going to be a long wait!

  5. This series is on my to-read list for 2013! I've heard such good things about it! I'm glad that you said the world-building is excellent because that's something that's important to me in books. I'm looking forward to reading them!

    (And I love how you do a cliffhanger scale and love triangle scale in your reviews! Nice touch!)

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

    1. YES! The first one was slow to start but after four books I am IN LOVE with this series. I hope you feel the same way. Thanks for following me!

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