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.
by Megan Whalen Turner
Read: November 30 - December 2, 2012
Published: Originally October 31, 1996 by HarperCollins
Source: Kindle Purchase
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)
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.
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
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.
...at 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