The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Posted December 23, 2019 by Amber in Reviews / 4 Comments

The Thief

The Thief

by Megan Whalen Turner

Series: The Queen's Thief #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books on October 1, 1996
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on 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.


My initial thoughts in starting The Thief were that Gen was a bit of a prick and I was not that altogether in love with the world, but something kept tugging at my curiosity.  There was something about the way this book was written, or perhaps Steve West’s excellent narration (I raved about his reading of Strange the Dreamer as well) that sucked me in.

I have no idea how I devoured this book as quickly as I did.  There were many points early in the novel where I found myself bemoaning the constant mythology and the travelling.  And listen y’all – I’m an epic fantasy girl.  I’m used to reading long travelling sequences.  The Lord of the Rings excels at this, and The Wise Man’s Fear does its fair amount as well.  The pacing at the beginning of the book wasn’t so slow that I wanted to stop reading, but yes, I was rolling my eyes and wishing it would get on with it already.

If not for the ending, I’m not sure I would have liked the book as much as I did.  I’ve read other reviews claiming how obvious the ending was, and if I’d been paying better attention to some really obvious hints, I would have picked up on things, but I have been distracted and I only absorbed the story and when it all came together, I found myself thinking OF COURSE.  IT ALL MAKES SENSE.  So for me, it was a twist ending, and I thoroughly enjoyed the twist.

While the depth of worldbuilding was good, I wasn’t always crazy about the way it was fed to the reader.  My recent read of Watership Down reminded me that I don’t always enjoy a story-within-a-story, particularly when they permeate throughout and interrupt the story.  They’re a common way to break up travelling sequences, but they need to be done cleverly to keep from feeling like filler.  While the mythology on its own was interesting enough, I’m not sure Turner quite avoided the feeling of time wasted.  The gods have their role in The Thief, but the stories told did not align quite as relevantly as I, the reader, would have liked.  Others may feel differently.

Still, the story itself was good once wrapped tidily in a bow, and while Gen annoyed me a lot at the beginning (there was an excessive amount of whining about food and naps) by the end, I found myself begrudgingly respecting him.  I also enjoyed the tone of the novel, which never felt quite as serious as adult fantasy, but passed by the whimsy of YA which can be trying at times.  All in all, this is definitely the type of book I would recommend to the right person, and I think those who enjoy Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle may also enjoy The Thief.


Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★
Narrator: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★
Total: ★★★★


Have you ever missed a plot twist that should have been obvious?  I feel like I catch about 60% of twists these days, which is less often than I used to, but I like being surprised!  What about you?

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4 responses to “The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

    • Amber

      It’s good, but also good to keep in mind that it was published about 20 years ago so some of the storytelling may be a little simpler than we’re used these days with the evolution of YA Fantasy. 🙂 I really did enjoy it, though!