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The Thief (The Queen's Thief #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  35,811 Ratings  ·  4,086 Reviews
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
Paperback, 280 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1996)
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Rebekah I read The Queen first, without realizing it was part of a series. I loved it, and "got it" although I was a bit mixed up about geography and a little…moreI read The Queen first, without realizing it was part of a series. I loved it, and "got it" although I was a bit mixed up about geography and a little surprised at how characters and past events were mentioned with so little explanation, (which I figured was just the style of storytelling). After I read The Thief, I realized how much The Queen was referring to and building on The Thief. Also, reading them out of order removes the element of surprise at the end of The Thief.(less)
Sara It's a mixture. I'm pretty sure the author herself said on a note that she wasn't trying to replicate any myths in particular, but instead got bits…moreIt's a mixture. I'm pretty sure the author herself said on a note that she wasn't trying to replicate any myths in particular, but instead got bits and pieces from different cultures that resulted in the mixture you find here. Some elements might seem familiar because of that.(less)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Lightning Thief by Rick RiordanTwilight by Stephenie MeyerThe Giver by Lois LowryCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare
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189th out of 10,147 books — 69,449 voters
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4th out of 502 books — 1,107 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lola  Reviewer

Oh, thank gods, I thought. They’re going to leave me. All I want to do was lie in a dry prickly grass with my feet in a ditch forever. I could be a convenient sort of milemarker, I thought. Get to the thief and you know you are halfway to Methana. Wherever Methana might be.

The Thief is a high fantasy with, like any other high fantasy on this planet, a journey the characters undertake. Gen, the main character was a pleasant surprise. While I first thought he was a feminine character, I was prov
Sep 12, 2011 Tatiana rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kristin Cashore
Update 6/2011. Let me just say, if you feel so-so about this book (like I did), please give its sequel - The Queen of Attolia - a try. It made me forever and ever a dedicated fan of the series.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it, but I think I spoiled the experience for myself a little bit.

The reviewers like to point to a huge twist at the end of the story as the biggest reason for enjoying this book. But if you know in advance that you should expect something, it is very easy
Emily May
Mar 30, 2012 Emily May rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy, 2011

My main reason for reading The Thief was so I could read the sequel - The Queen of Attolia - that I've heard is superb and far better than this first installment. I actually set myself up for quite an underwhelming experience with this book based on reviews and the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of more traditional fantasy with magical realms and such (I never could stand The Lord of the Rings). However, the story was interesting, the writing excellent and the protagonist was a witty, deviou
Dec 04, 2013 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another book my wife insisted that I read. It was our before-bed read aloud book last month.

Reading 10-15 pages a night, the first half of the book was enjoyable, but unfolded rather slowly. I was a bit puzzled about why my wife was so enthusiastic about the book. Then, about half way through, the excitement and tempo increased a few notches, and it become a real page-turner.

This is a fantasy novel, but it is not your typical swords and sorcery adventure. There are swords, and even a co
Robin (Bridge Four)
Jul 08, 2015 Robin (Bridge Four) rated it liked it
Recommended to Robin by: Kerry *Soulcaster*
Buddy read with some friends at Buddies Books and Baubles

I am a master of foolhardy plans, I thought. I have so much practice I consider them professional risks.

EVERYONE told me not to expect much from this book and to be patient. They said the beginning isn’t very good but the second half is pretty good and the next two books are amazing…so just hang in there. Well I found that to be true and false at the same time.

It is true the second half of this book is much more interesting, there is
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Review originally posted at Fantasy Literature. Reread July 2015 with the Buddies Books & Baubles group.

Megan Whalen Turner’s award-winning 1996 YA fantasy The Thief, set in a fantasy world that has very strong echoes of ancient Greece, follows the adventures of Gen, the eponymous thief, as he is yanked from a filthy prison cell to go on a journey with a group of four men who hope to steal an unnamed object. The magus, who is leading the group, is the only person in the group who knows what
Mar 25, 2008 Jean rated it it was ok
A thief sprung from jail to help a Magnus steal an ancient treasure, warring kingdoms, political intrigue, sword fights, narrow escapes,a mythology invented especially for this fictional place, and a quest--everything, it would seem, to keep me reading. So I am wondering why I so disliked this book that I had to force myself to keep reading to the end. I think I hit upon the answer spoken by one of Turner's characters near the last weary lap of the book: "Oh, fine," I told him...but I didn't rea ...more
Lois Bujold
Jul 18, 2013 Lois Bujold rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Lois by: e-mail correspondent years ago who loved it so much she mailed me a copy
Having dutifully tried a few new things to my lack of satisfaction this past week, I turned instead to an old favorite that I knew would be a pleasurable read. This is a book that re-repays a re-re-read, not only soon, but after finishing its sequels once they widen one's view of its world and characters.

There is not too much one can say about The Thief that is not a spoiler, and this is a book that should NOT be read with preconceptions. Set in an alternate fantasy world loosely inspired by Gre
Mar 21, 2016 Kaya rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-interested
I can't say this book is bad but it isn't good either. Boring interactions, dull protagonist with the plot I couldn't care less about. Nothing even slightly exciting happens. The start reminds me a bit of Throne of Glass and that's the only good thing about this book. I'm not even a big fan of Throne of Glass.

A thief named Gen got out from jail in order to help a Magus steal an ancient treasure. When the identity of the thief is finally revealed I was occasionally interested in the plot, but not
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Sep 21, 2010 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fantasy lovers
Recommended to Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) by: Beanbag Love
What do you do when you want to gain possession of something that's nearly impossible to obtain? You hire a thief who can steal just about anything.

Gen has no disillusions about his abilities as a thief. He's actually named after the god of thieves, Eugenides, as a matter of fact. While his father wanted him to be a soldier, he knew that was not the life for him. Instead, he honed his skills at stealing, until he was one of the best in the land. Too bad he did a little too much bragging about st
Feb 16, 2013 Jenna rated it really liked it
I've been told by so many people that this series is amazing, but that the first book is kinda lackluster. I didn't know much more than that going into The Thief, and perhaps that's why I enjoyed it more than others seem to. Importantly, I didn't know there was a twist at the end and so I didn't see it coming and also didn't spend my time trying to figure out what it was. I just enjoyed the ride.

The Thief follows Gen, the eponymous trickster, as he is forced to journey through multiple countries
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
Buddy read with Buddies Books & Baubles July 2015

Three stars feels a bit generous, but oh well. It was pretty good for what it was. I'll call it 2.5 rounded up.

I found the interweaving of Grecian names interesting, although the book could definitely have benefited from having a map in the front pages. Between Sounis, Eddis and Attolia I found myself getting a bit confused about what was where. I liked Gen's selfishness (reminded me of Meda from Cracked) and he just had a cool laid-back sort
Jul 25, 2012 Kay rated it liked it
Recommends it for: road trip!
This book was okay. On one hand, I can't deny that Megan Whalen Turner is a great writer. Her command of the English language, especially her rich descriptions of a pseudo-Greek landscape, is superb. On the other hand, I found the story very slow up until the very hasty end, and the ending felt a bit off.

I should have known to not let my expectations get out of hand. Reviewers did offer cautionary notes that the next book in the series, Queen of Attolia, was much better. From the book synopsis
Mar 27, 2011 Catie rated it liked it
This book has a very slow pace, but I think that’s intentional. The slowly building suspense adds a lot to the big reveal at the end. This is going to be the weirdest comparison ever, but this book actually reminds me of the beginning of American Psycho. Reading the beginning of that book is like, “boring…boring…boring...wait a minute, did he just say that he was going to disembowel someone?!” This book has the same feel of repetitive setting and story progression, sprinkled with little tantaliz ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-4-life

The Skinny:
Gen, a young thief, has bragged for the last time. After telling the wrong people (AKA anyone he could) about his most recent theft, he is thrown in the King's prison. Thinking that is where he will remain, Gen is surprised when the King's scholar comes to fetch him. Unbeknownst to Gen, the magus wants him to steal something for him in return for his freedom. Thinking he has an easy way out, Gen quickly agrees. What he doesn't realize is that this task might be far more difficult
I'm giving up on this one. It's not BAD, just...excruciatingly BORING. To me, anyway. I found the main character obnoxious and all the other characters underdeveloped and uninteresting, and over half way through the book, nothing's really happened--they've started their journey, and then traveled, and traveled, and traveled, and traveled, and traveled, get the picture. I've heard really good things about this series, and maybe at some point in the future I'll give it another try. But I ...more
Sep 30, 2009 TheBookSmugglers rated it it was amazing
Full Review Link

It is safe to say that I spend most of my free time reading. I read three to four books every week, sometimes more. I am very careful with what I choose to read which means that most of the books I read, I end up enjoying at least to some degree. But it is rare, extremely rare, to read a book that falls in that category of Books for Life. You know the ones: those that take over your heart and your mind, that even when you are reading you know that you are experiencing something u
Dec 02, 2008 Shaya rated it it was ok
Recommended to Shaya by: Rebecca
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marla Mei
One of the reasons why I read The Thief is because I still haven't gotten over my new-found addiction for fantasy novels ever since I finished reading the Lumatere Chronicles. So while I was scrolling through GR and found a highly acclaimed fantasy book called the Queen of Attolia, I knew I had to read it. And then I found out it is the second book in a series. Just imagine how giddy I was when I found out about that. A series! More books! Yay!

Reading more reviews finally convinced me that this
Steph Su
Feb 17, 2012 Steph Su rated it it was amazing
Every time I think of this series, I kick myself for not having started it when I was younger. Not exactly because I’d enjoy it more as a younger reader, but because I would have had more years to crush on Eugenides and the masterful storytelling that Megan Whalen Turner is capable of.

To be honest, in the beginning I wasn’t very impressed with THE THIEF. The story starts in prison, and Gen is sick and scrawny and cranky. Not quite the most endearing character at this point. Even when Gen, the ma
Jan 24, 2011 Vinaya rated it really liked it
Recommended to Vinaya by: Tatiana
I think this review may be SPOILER-ISH, so read on at your own peril.

First off, I HAVE to know... Was Gen's identity supposed to be a big secret? Because I knew exactly who he was about one-third into the book, about the time they reached Eddis. So if the whole thing was supposed to have been mysterious up until the end, when the grand revelation took place, I might have to drop a star, and pat myself on the back for my own cleverness. But since I really, really liked The Thief, I will give Mega
Jan 19, 2011 Limonessa rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
"The Thief" or how twist an impossibly boring plot to a great book in twenty pages.
I kept asking myself throughout all of the 200 something pages WHY WHY people were giving high ratings to this book i was almost dying of boredom. In fact, i read two other books while reading this one.
Then, a good three quarters into the book, the action picks up and from a totally mummified position on my couch i sit up. i'd rather not tell anything about the plot not to spoil it in anyway, but be sure that at
Anne Osterlund
Jul 31, 2010 Anne Osterlund rated it it was amazing
Gen is a thief. And a prisoner with a sense of humor, which is rather remarkable for someone chained to the wall in the king’s prison. And when the king assigns Gen to steal for him, well, that’s when the story gets going.

All you need to know about a Megan Whalen Turner book is that you don’t know. You don’t have a clue what is happening. Until she, and Gen, choose to tell you. So strap yourself in. This book has one of the longest climaxes you will ever read. And this is only the beginning.
Aug 02, 2010 Felicia rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed this book a lot! Definitely young adult in tone, but immensely entertaining and the end was a fun twist. Recommended especially for teens.
Jul 14, 2011 Nomes rated it liked it
I really wanted to love this more than I did. However, I could appreciate the talent and genius within this book ...

The writing feels tight and confident. The world building is flawlessly minimal yet fully realised. I really liked that. I also enjoyed the occasional flash of wry humour. And Gen himself is an enigmatic (and charismatic in a rough kind of way) character <3

The story starts off at an intriguing point, yet I found myself waiting for the action/revelations to appear throughout most
Feb 27, 2009 Angie rated it really liked it
Shelves: belovedbookshelf, ya
This book has been sitting on my shelf for several (we won't go into how many exactly) years. I even *gasp* had both sequels sitting on the shelf next to it. And in the interest of full disclosure, I even started The Thief a couple of years ago, got 25 pages in, and stopped. For reasons I no longer recall. The fault, whatever it was, was clearly mine because this book is the beginning of something truly special. I completely understand why it won the Newbery Honor and am very glad it did.

Gen is
Apr 11, 2008 Annie rated it it was amazing
The main character of this story is mesmerizing. Turner has fleshed him out so fully, he's stepped right off the pages to join the ranks of characters the likes of Uriah Heep and Bertie Wooster. Gen is more likeable than either of them, though.

This is fantasy that doesn't feel like fantasy. From the moment you meet him in the king's prison, Gen effortlessly holds your attention as he slowly reveals himself without ever giving himself entirely away. He tells his own story and his observations of
Crystal Starr Light
"A little danger adds spice to life"

Gen is roused from his prison cell, where he was locked up after stealing the king's ring, to meet the magus. The magus gives him an offer: find something the king wants and be free or die. Gen reluctantly agrees, and with Ambiades, Sophos, and Pol, the team strikes out to hunt for Hamiathes' Gift.

If I could only use one word to describe this book, it would probably be "supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus". This book is absolutely amazing! The characters are gre
missEvi [can't commit to a book]
Oh Eugenides, what a conniving little bastard you are...

The narrator of the story is Gen, a thief from the prison of Sounis that has a task to steal something of high importance in order to gain his freedom. He describes his journey in great detail, with a sharp eye but at the same time holds back many information. He tries to judge everything objectively without reviling to much about himself.

There is a huge twist at the end, but if you pay close attention to the things that are said, or those
Jul 15, 2015 Jenny rated it really liked it
The main part of the book is like an endless walk to Mordor, with no action and no starvation. The foreshadowing was a bit vague, but I think I prefer this over "boom, in your face! ". I am partly confused by the change of heart in some of the characters, but that might also just be because I couldn't be bothered and flew over the second half. The last THIRD though is pretty amazing and makes me super excited for the next one!!!
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For those of you who have to write reports for school, I will say that I was born in 1965 and I have siblings, all of them older, which makes me the baby of the family. We had a pet cat when I was growing up. He died a long time ago, but I think he is living his next life with the author of Tithe, Holly Black. I have seen pictures and her White Cat appears too similar for mere coincidence. I moved ...more
More about Megan Whalen Turner...

Other Books in the Series

The Queen's Thief (6 books)
  • The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #2)
  • The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #3)
  • A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief, #4)
  • Untitled (The Queen's Thief, #5)
  • Untitled (The Queen's Thief, #6)

Share This Book

“All I wanted to do was lie in the dry grass with my feet in a ditch forever. I could be a convenient sort of milemarker, I thought. Get to the thief and you know you're halfway to Methana.” 187 likes
“You learn something new everyday."
"What are you learning?" Sophos asked.
"To keep my mouth shut, I hope.”
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