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The Thief

(The Queen's Thief #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  79,676 ratings  ·  8,438 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 ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Greenwillow Books (first published October 31st 1996)
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Juny It's so good it doesn't need a love story in the first one…moreIt's so good it doesn't need a love story in the first one(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 an…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)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  79,676 ratings  ·  8,438 reviews

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Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kristin Cashore
Update 12/29/2018
Clearly I can never get tired of Megan Whalen Turner’s stories and Gen’s refreshing petulance.

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.

(view spoiler)
Emily May
Mar 11, 2011 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, dev
a summary of this book in 20 words or less:

first half - an obscenely long journey where literally nothing happens.
second half - item stolen and it all. kicks. off.

as you can tell from my quick summary, the second half of this book is where its at. if you manage to get through the most boring horse ride in fictional history, then you will be well rewarded. you will get prison escapes, hot pursuits, clever planning, and not to mention more gen. i really liked gen. my goodness, he was charming. he
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
The Thief is the first book in one of my favorite YA series EVER, with just a touch of Greek mythology-inspired fantasy to it. It can be just a little hard to get into at first, but the payoff at the end is brilliant, and the world-building is fantastic. Stick with it through at least the first three books and you won't regret it. Avoid spoilers.

Review originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

Megan Whalen Turner’s award-winning 1996 YA fantasy The Thief, set in a fantasy world that has very stro
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star, year-2018
Gen is a thief. The story begins with him being rescued from prison by the King's Magus in order to help him steal an object of political power that is so historically obscure it is almost considered a myth.

So there's a lot I didn't enjoy here.

To begin with, this book is mostly composed of a very, very, very long travelling sequence. Now, I should take this opportunity to point out that I don't dislike journey stories. In fact, one of my all time favorite novels is The Lord of the Rings, which i
Aug 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: why-yes-i-ya
fulfilling my 2021 goal to read one book each month by an author i have never read despite owning more than one of their books.

this is the first book in the queen's thief series, which so many of my fantasy-loving friends have singled out as being the childhood books that turned them into readers. all of us booknerds have specific books like these, that shaped us—dog-eared beloveds we read and reread during our formative years that we still think of with fond nostalgia. these special few create
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

Huh. I really, really liked this? True enough, I've decided to start The Thief in order to get to the sequels - that all my friends adore - and somehow I was at peace with the probable boredom I would feel during this first novel and... My enjoyment felt so effortless? From the characters to the world and the writing, I've been enchanted. Truly.

"I hate horses. I know people who think that they are noble, graceful animals, but regardless of what a horse looks like from a distance, never f
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Feb 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
1.5/5 stars
Good riddance!!!

I must have read a different book than everybody else had because I cannot for the life of me comprehend how this book has won any literal awards.

As an avid fantasy reader I can tell you that this book is as close to a "riveting fantasy novel" as flour is to being a spice.
Why flour you ask?
Beuase it reminds me of this book - dry, bland and boring.

​And I really tried to tie this book all of the chances I could. I wanted to dnf it after 30 pages, but:
1. I was told th
Elle (ellexamines)
This felt like such a classic fantasy novel. You know those 2005-era books about journeys that you liked for some inexplicable reason? Yeah. That kind. Except with really good worldbuilding and a lot of potential built up.

This novel follows Gen, a thief hired by a magus of Sunis to find a stone that gives the holder the right for rulership of Eddis.
➽Sunis - the king’s county, attempting to take over Eddis
➽Eddis - the country across, a country they must overtake
➽Attolia - a country lying in betw
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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I actually read this for the first time as a child back when it was still a standalone and I remember my edition had a really cheesy, cartoonish cover. THE THIEF is a book that won't appeal to everyone, and even as a child, I had difficulty getting into it. For one thing, it's one of those fantasy novels that revolves around journeys, which I know isn't everyone's cup of tea. For another, it's very slow-paced and mostly character-driven.
Nov 07, 2008 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
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, it starts off slower than molasses. Yes, you will be perfectly misdirected by Ms Turner. Yes, you will wish to set it aside for these reasons.

And all I can say is, Don't.


Because you absolutely need to read this book in order to get to the sequel, The Queen of Attolia, which is one of my fave books as well as having one of the best male protagonists of all time. Seriously, I love Gen to bits.

Read this series.
Lois Bujold
Jul 18, 2013 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
May 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-interested
I can't say this book is bad but it isn't great either. The main downsides are boring interactions, a dull protagonist, and a plot I couldn't care less about. Nothing even slightly exciting happens. The start reminds me a bit of the Throne of Glass series and that's the only remarkable thing about this book. I'm not even a big fan of Throne of Glass.

A thief named Gen got out of jail in order to help a Magus steal an ancient treasure. When the identity of the thief is finally revealed I was occas
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More)
May 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fantasy lovers
Recommended to Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More) 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
Brilliant and amazing, but four out of five stars because this, in my opinion, is just setting up the truly world-shaking events of the next two books.

Edited on rereading in 2021: FOUR stars? Girl, what was wrong with you?

Now that I know the twists, I was laughing in sheer delight throughout this. I don't know what was going on the first time I read this, but now I could truly appreciate how clever Gen is, and how this all fitted together so perfectly.
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
This book seemed promising but I ended up a bit underwhelmed.
I'm still planning on continuing the series since it apparently gets better!
Robin (Bridge Four)
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Robin by: Kerry *Pale Daughter*
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
Mar 13, 2008 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
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
2 Stars and a mini review because I am the worst

- Super straight forward writing style that was unbelievably boring
- Forgettable plot
- Forgettable characters
- An MC who doesn't take things seriously but also isn't funny

- The last three pages
- seriously they make it seem like this book was one really long prologue

*shrugs* 🤷🏻‍♀️

Read with my split-soul, Mary! 💖
(I will tag when not on mobillleeee)
Holly (Holly Hearts Books)
This is a very high end 3 star rating. Like the Gucci of 3 stars. This book laid out such an interesting foundation to the story and I know it can only get better from here. (which is why I bought the rest of the series.. oops)
Dec 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

The second half of the book totally made up for the slow start. I am very intrigued by this series now
Natalie Monroe
I started this in the cold winter of 2017 and finished it in the harsh political climate of Trump and Brexit in February 2019. Everyone says the sequels are superb, which is the only reason I pushed on. But boy, was it tedious. 80% of it is traveling and Gen whinging about wanting three meals a day. Despite all the footwork though, I don't have a good handle on this fictional world or its culture.

Here's to The Queen of Attolia stepping up its game.
✨    jami   ✨
this is one of those books where I liked it, and then I didn't like it, and then I was gonna dnf it, and then I liked it again, and then I was bored again, and then all of a sudden I loved it Essentially, a really big rollercoaster of emotions. Overall coming out of this I do feel it was a positive experience hence a three star rather than two, but there was some close calls.

I started this because I LOVE thief stories. I will continue to keep reading stories about thieves and heists until the d
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
Sunny ✨wordslikefury✨
The Thief deserves more stars than I am giving it. It’s a wonderful and captivating story about a thief who is freed from prison to steal something only heard of in a fairy tale for the king. This task is basically the road to his freedom. So what choice does he have but to take the offer? It’s either this…or spend his days in prison in suffering and torture.

Our protagonist, Gen, is so full of wits. I found his personalty to be the best part of the story. From his sarcastic comments to his brood
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
11/25 (44%) 2 stars.
(German version below)
I like reading massively long, intricately built books. With those, I'm willing to read some pages where nothing happens and neither the story nor the characters evolve. However, this isn't a long book, but a very short one. Not even 300 pages in total - and yet, for 150 pages, nothing at all happens.

Oh sure, we get to know the characters, and some sort of a rather disappointing road movie of a quest, but nothing happens. Instead, the protagonist is, t
Jul 18, 2009 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
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
tw: violence, death of a parent (in the past), near-drowning, death.

This felt like two entirely different books. The first half was SO BORING, but then at the half way point things finally pick up, but it wasn't enough for me to really get into it. This just wasn't my cup of tea unfortunately. :(
Rachel Reads Ravenously
The first 150 pages out of 270 was them walking around and sometimes eating. What. The. Heck. I love me some fantasy but I need a dang plot.. Have zero interest in these characters or where this series is going. Why is it so dang hard to find a good book to read???
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Megan Whalen Turner is the author of short stories and novels for children, teenagers and adults. She has won the LA Times Book Award for Young Adult LIterature, a Boston Globe/ Horn Book Honor and a Newbery Honor. She won the Mythopoeic Award and was shortlisted twice for the Andre Norton Award.

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)
  • Thick as Thieves (The Queen's Thief, #5)
  • Return of the Thief (The Queen's Thief, #6)

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