Keith's Reviews > The Thief

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
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's review
Nov 07, 2008

really liked it
Read in December, 2008

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 couple of fights, but the closest we get to sorcery are some mysterious occurrences that could best be described as super-natural. Turner's alternate reality evokes the feeling of Greece. The landscape is rocky, somewhat mountainous, and filled with olive trees. The "old" religion has the feeling of Greek mythology although the divinities are mostly different. And the political backdrop is a set of small rivalrous kingdoms that could be stand-ins for the city-states of ancient Greece.

The story is told (first person) by Gen, a thief who opens the book imprisoned in the kingdom of Sounis. He is freed by the King's Magus---a wiseman-type councilor---who needs a skilled thief to help him recover a lost artifact. They set out on this expedition, accompanied by the Magus's two apprentices and a soldier. In the first half of the book, we slowly get to know the characters through Gen's eyes, and learn something of the world where this story is set. Turner does a good job developing and describing the mix of relationships between the members of this quest---rivalries, respect, jealousy---and as we get to know the characters better, it becomes apparent that there is a bit more to each of them than meets the eye.

Midway through the book, just when it seems that the entire plot is going to be character-driven, the tempo increases dramatically. There are fights, escapes, chases. Amongst this action there are still the puzzles of characters whose motivations we don't entirely understand---including our narrator, who carefully hides a few secrets of his own until the end.

All-in-all, a well-told story, with a good combination of plot, characters, and an interesting setting.

Once again, my wife picked a winner. I should pay more attention to her recommendations.
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Reading Progress

02/20/2016 marked as: read

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