Sunday 9 September 2012

CBR4 Book 73: "The Thief" by Megan Whalen Turner

Page count: 280 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: July 10th, 2012
Date finished: July 11th, 2012

In the kingdom of Sounis, the King wants an ancient artifact that could grant him power over the neighbouring kingdom of Eddis. He sends his Magus to retrieve the item, and with him, the Magus brings a small group of companions. As well as a guardsman and two young noblemen, they drag Gen, an arrogant young thief who claims he can steal anything, and who'd been thrown in the dungeons for stealing the King's private seal.

Skinny, extremely scruffy, rather coarse and deeply boastful, the Magus is not at all sure that Gen possesses the abilities necessary to retrieve the artifact that they seek. He attempts to gain a handle on the young thief, while continuing to educate the two noblemen in his charge. Will Gen really have what it takes to steal an item allegedly bestowed on humanity by a goddess? Will the Magus succeed in getting the item back to his King?

The first time I read The Thief I wasn't overly impressed, having heard good things about it, and knowing it had won a Newberry Award. The story starts slow, and Gen really is a surly and rather dislikable protagonist. I stuck with it because I liked the stories that the Magus and the others in the group told along the way, which were nice twists on ancient Mediterranean mythology. However, towards the end of the novels, the author's cleverness suddenly turned everything on its head, and the book became something else entirely.

Thus, re-reading it became a completely different experience. Because I knew more about Gen and his ultimate goals, as well as about the Magus and the two young men in his charge (some stuff is revealed later in the series), I was able to appreciate the story on another level and can absolutely see why it's become so critically acclaimed and lauded. Thus I would recommend you, if you pick this up for the first time and feel a bit bored - please stick with it. You will be rewarded in the end, and possibly tempted to start the book over from the beginning, just to experience the story once more.

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