The Thief: The Queen's Thief, #1 -- Megan Whalen Turner
While the rain kept me from writing about The Thief as promised last Thursday, it certainly didn't keep me from re-reading it. There are few things, I think, that could've made me that miserable.
So. A bit later than promised, but... here we are.
For the uninitiated, The Thief begins:
I didn't know how long I had been in the king's prison.
After drunkenly bragging in wine shops about being the greatest thief alive, Gen was forced to put his money where his mouth was and prove it. So prove it he did -- by stealing the king's seal out from under the king's chief advisor's nose. Of course, Gen's bragging hadn't gone unnoticed by the government, so it wasn't long before he was captured and deposited in prison.
That same chief advisor -- the magus -- decides that there is a better way for Gen to serve the country than rotting in jail. And so, the two of them, along with a soldier and two young students, set out on a journey to steal an object. Gen isn't informed what their destination is, or for that matter, what he is to steal, but, when it comes to the king's prison, out is better than in.
If you haven't read the book, skip the rest, because while I'm not going to get specifically spoiler-y, your first journey with Gen should be one that you only share with him. So go away and read it. Seriously. If you've been meaning to get to it for ages and just haven't found the time -- FIND IT. You're missing out. Not just on this book, but on the next two. And don't worry -- what follows isn't a review or a critique -- it's a love letter.
While I wish I could read this again for the very first time, I do love revisiting it. I feel like I catch something new every time. I love Gen's asides, his clues to the reader about his real identity:
He wanted to know my name.
I said, "Gen." He wasn't interested in the rest.
I love that while he lies constantly to everyone he interacts with in every way possible -- words, posture, habit, personality, history, education, intellect -- he doesn't actually lie to the reader except by way of omission. I love that basically, he's running a long con. I love the moments when his temper threatens to get the better of him. I love him. I love Sophos, Pol, even the magus. I can't love Ambiades, but I do love Gen's interactions with him. I love the underlying conversation about myth: how we use it and change it, how even well-known and often-told stories are shaped by the teller, how that can tell us about the teller. I love the first meeting of Gen and Attolia. I love Gen's reaction to being watched over by the gods. I love watching the characters begin to suspect things about each other even as they begin to care about and respect each other.
I love Megan Whalen Turner for creating these characters and this world.