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 unique, a connection with a story and its characters (that only serial readers can understand); those that you know will remain with you, forever.

I experienced such rapture when I read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss earlier in the year, and to my utter surprise and delight, again a few weeks ago when I finally read The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

This series came under my radar only recently when Angie from Angieville started to blog about the books with not a little amount of excitement. From then on, I started to see more and more people talking about them with such fervor that I thought I should give them a try. And, HOLY GUACAMOLE.

I am totally, irrevocably, head over heels in love with this series. I knew I would have to review these books eventually, I had hoped to do so during this YA Month but I also realised that I had a decision to make: I could either review each book in the series separately or I could review the series as whole. The former would naturally lead to spoilers being revealed and since these books cannot, should not be spoiled, I opted for the latter by writing an overall review of the series, spoiler free. This is what I am trying to do here – although I am fully aware that so far, I only managed to basically behave like a fan-girl.

But it cannot be helped. I now completely understand the fervor, the excitement that this series inspire. As I was reading the books, as the pages were being turned I had only one thought in mind: this is why I read. THIS is why I read. THIS IS WHY I READ. And it all comes down to one word: Eugenides.

Gen, Eugenides is a thief. He boasts that he can steal anything. That lands him in the King of Sounis’ prison where he spends a couple of months until he is offered, by the King’s Magus, his freedom but in return he has to steal something that people don’t even think really exists.

This is how the whole thing opens, in The Thief and we are told about this expedition in search of the Gift, by Gen himself, a humorous narrator of this dashing adventure across the neighbouring countries of Sounis, Eddis and Attolia. This person, this ragamuffin, lazy, starved boy – can he really steal anything?

But you see, Gen is extremely clever, a fact which the reader and his companions in the first adventure, come to slowly realise. Close to the end of that book, we learn something that is crucial to the entire series – that Gen is actually cleverer than anyone else. And there is something else too, something that makes him important. But that doesn’t matter to us here and now, because what really matters is how amazing Gen is. By the end of book 1, it is impossible not to like the guy or his “voice”.

Then book 2 starts, and shock of the shocks. Gen is no longer the narrator – the narrative has shifted to third person with Gen’s, the Queen of Eddis’ and the Queen of Attolia’s PoV. At first, it is almost painful to lose Gen’s narration but then somewhere in the middle of the reading it hits you with a certainty:

OF COURSE the narrative has to change.

Because this is a different book. It is still the same story but progress has been made. Because now, the destiny of countries is at stake, war is brewing in the horizon between Attolia, Eddis and Sounis. This is a more sophisticated book, it has political discussion , political intrigue, it discusses the role that the Gods play in the fate of men and nations.

In the beginning of the series, Gen is a boy. A cocky, impetuous, adventurous, conniving boy. When book 2 starts, something terrible happens (did I say shock of the shocks before? Well, this is even more shocking) that shapes the man Eugenides becomes. A man who has now to steal more than a simple object: he is tasked to steal a man, a woman and peace.

The way he does it, takes us back to more twists like in the first book. And we, once again, are surprised by how clever Eugenides is. Even if we expect it by now.

Then book 3 starts. Once again, a shock. The book is entirely from the point of view of a character we never saw before. As the book progresses, the certainty hits once more:

OF COURSE the narrative has to change.

Because this time, this time we KNOW how clever Gen is. But no one else does. Including Costis, the narrator, a member of the Queen of Attolia’s Guard who commits the mistake of underestimating Eugenides. And this is the genius of Megan Whalen Turner because in book 3, we, the readers, are Eugenides’s accomplices. We sit back and wait for the coin to drop for everybody else as it has dropped for us in books 1 and 2. This is about pay-off, about Eugenides stealing respect and a kingdom. And what a story this is.

This is a series of books that have deep meanings, hidden clues throughout the story. Where everything matters from the type of clothes someone wears, to the reason behind a pair of earrings being worn at a particular right time, to the declaration of love that the raising of one’s eyebrow is.

And speaking of love: there is also romance in these books. It starts towards the middle of book 2 and it takes centre stage in book 3. But not in it a blatant way: the romance is subtle, almost private (especially in book 3) and I am not exaggerating when I say it is the most amazing romance I have read of late. It is unexpected and it is unusual. For starters, Eugenides is shorter and younger than the person he loves. But she is everything he ever wanted and he is everything she ever needed. Because of that, their dynamic is simply awesome and there is no other word for it. And what Eugenides is to his lady is aw-worthy at the same time that it is powerful. This is good stuff, plain and simple.

To sum up: I was lost in the world of Attolia and Eddis and I did not want to get away from it. I would be remiss if I didn’t say one last thing: that the female characters in the series are extremely capable, intelligent, strong, and I admired both of then, the two Queens, as different as they were in their personalities, immensely.

If you like unreliable narrators, cons, plot twists, political intrigue, character development, mythology, stories within stories, strong female characters and heart-warming romance and above all, a male protagonist that is all kinds of awesome, you should look no further than this series. It is not a perfect series by any means – there is change in pacing from one book to another, and the first book is clearly for a younger audience than the other two books. This is why, in my opinion, they should be read as a collection of books and not individually. I still love them though, flaws and all.

At the end of book three, Eugenides has stolen: a gift; a man; a woman; peace; a kindgom. He has also stolen my heart.

___________

I know how cryptic this overview has been and that I did not provide any real details about the story. I still think you should find them out by yourself by reading the books, but if you want to know more you can read these reviews:

Angieville’s: The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia

One last word: book 4 in the series, A Conspiracy of Kings is coming out in 2010. It is safe to say it my most anticipated book for 2010 along with The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

Now you will have to excuse me, because writing this made me want to read these books all over again.

Share →

74 Responses to I Love This Series: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I never get tired of these books. Reading one is like coming home. Thanks for a wonderful overview — I hope it introduces many more readers to Megan Whalen Turner’s genius.

  2. MaryK says:

    I love, love, love a clever hero. I have all three of these books, but I’m waiting until I have some uninterrupted time to read them all together.

  3. AnimeJune says:

    Oh, I have to put these on my Wishlist. They look great – and beautiful covers.

    By the way – I nominated you guys for a Kreativ Blogger award on my blog! Your reviews are awesome!

  4. Shanelle says:

    *woot woot*
    I positively adore these books and am so excited when I hear about other people that like them. Thanks for the fun, spoiler-free review! It’s made me want to go read them again, too! :D

  5. KMont says:

    I’m definitely getting the first book and reading it. Hopefully sooner rather than later!!

  6. Well you just added to my TBB list. I’d been wondering about these and will have to give the first one a try.

  7. This is my favorite series for 2009! I loved it! Looking forward to the next book in the Attolia universe.

  8. Angie says:

    I’m just sort of spinning with delight over this wonderful series review! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me. You touched on everything about these books that make them superb. Yes to this is why I read. Yes to the strong, intelligent women. Yes to the very private, amazing romance. And most of all yes to the awesomeness that is Eugenides! Ridiculous amounts of love for this series and your review, Ana.

    KMont, honey, get the second one too while you’re at it. *bookpusher*

  9. Christine says:

    I wouldn’t have thought it possible to write a review for the first three books in The Queen’s Thief series without spoilers (and I’ve only read the The Thief so far…), but by golly, you’ve done it, and done it well, too! Of course, I was planning on reading the next books in the series already, but you’ve piqued my interest even more so now. So instead of continuing my quest to find The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia through interlibrary loan, I think I’m just going to go ahead and buy my own copies now.

  10. I got interested in these books when I saw Angie’s reviews, but when I saw your tweets I went ahead and bought them. I’m reading the Thief now, but made the mistake of bringing it along to Comic-con where i could never really focus.

    Speaking of Comic-Con the series was recommended twice on two different panels by two different authors…I hope I enjoy it. ;)

  11. Ana says:

    RJ – thanks for your comment. I hope more people read them too, this is one of the reasons I wrote this spoiler free, so those who haven’t read them could listen me squeeing without fear. :D

    MaryK – that is a very wise course of action. I read them non-stop over 3 days.

    AnimeJune- do try and read them. I am sure they would be your cuppa. and thanks for the award! :mrgreen:

    Shanelle – yes, it is great when we can share this isn’t it?

    Kmont – dooooooooooooooooooo it.

    Doug – can’t wait to read your reviews on this.

    Angie girl – I only have one thing to say to you: thank you , from the bottom of my heart.

    Christine – Thanks! I am 100% sure you will love Queen and King as well!

    Amy: reeeeeally? how awesome. Let me know when you review them!!

  12. orannia says:

    If you like unreliable narrators, cons, plot twists, political intrigue, character development, mythology, stories within stories…

    *nods enthusiastically* Thank you so much Ana for a overview without spoilers (that can’t have been easy!) Now I just have to work out what my library has done with their copies :)

    Oh, and, like AnimeJune, I’ve also nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger Award :mrgreen:

  13. Kristen says:

    I am now even more glad I just ordered the first book in this series. Can’t wait to read it!

  14. Kris says:

    8O I want! I love the way you described the third book, Ana, that the readers are “Eugenides’s accomplices”. It sounds fascinating. I’m definitely adding it to my wish list.

  15. CupK8 says:

    These have been on my TBR for a while thanks to a recommendation at DA. Unfortunately it took me a while to realize they were YA! ^^;

    And thanks for the spoiler-free review. I have a feeling that with this series, it will be much better to be surprised the first time around!

  16. Jennifer says:

    Coincidentally, I’ve been reading this series this month too. I’m almost done with The Queen of Attolia and I’ll be starting King hopefully tomorrow or Thursday. I absolutely love this series!

  17. Wow, I’m definitely adding these books to my wishlist. I didn’t want to read too much detail of the individual books and spoil it, but your opening words were enough to convince me I need to read these books! Thanks for the review!

  18. Michelle M says:

    Thank you for such a great review!! I love these books to pieces – I think I might just have to pull them out again and relive the magic that is Gen.

  19. Roxy says:

    I loved your review!!! It made me want to read the series all over again. I’m so glad you enjoyed them! I completely agreed with everything you said, especially the viewpoint changes. I gotta say I was upset at the shift to third person for the first few chapters… but it worked out awesome!

  20. [...] Here is the original post: The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » I Love This Series: The … [...]

  21. Great review – I simply adore this series. The Thief and King are two of my favourite books ever, ever.

  22. Tiah says:

    Wow! Such high praise from everyone on these books. I am excited to add them to my TBR pile.

  23. Rob Charron says:

    Hi :)
    Yes, this series is on my ToBeRead list.
    I love The Name of the Wind too!
    Thanks for a terrific blog post & review.
    You’ve bumped these books up to the NextToBeRead.
    :)
    All the best
    twitter.com/RKCharron
    xoxo

  24. Shina says:

    I am simply in love with this series, and with Gen. I found the first book merely enjoyable, but by the end of King, I knew I had found a series I will be reading and re-reading over and over, if only to discover new things, new nuances I did not see on previous reads: because the prose is subtle and very lovely.

    Thank you for this review! It really does do the series justice. :>

  25. jennygirl says:

    ACK! I’m so jealous. I tried to buy the first one last week at Borders and they did not have it. I was very disappointed because I have heard about these books at several blogs.
    Must go get now :)

  26. Okie says:

    This sounds like a great series. I’ll have to read it.

  27. FD says:

    I read Thief when it first came out, the very first print run, even before it was awarded a Newbery.
    I made a mental note to remember to watch the author, and then forgot, as you do.

    I saw your review yesterday and that there were now two sequels and went to the library on my way home today. I found to my glee that they had all three right there on the shelf – brand spanking new, only just catalogued copies. Clearly, I was not meant to sleep tonight.
    Ta very much Ana.

  28. Dishonor says:

    YES. A thousand times yes.
    I love, love, love this series so much that I was tempted to steal the library books I’d borrowed. That’s how much I absolutely adored them.

    I’m waiting with baited breath for a Conspiracy of Kings. Knowing Turner, she’ll manage to shock me once again with her spectacular writing, plot twists, and humor. I can’t wait.

    King’s my favorite so far, by the way. :D

  29. SarahT says:

    OK, sold. I’ve ordered the first book. I’ve heard only positives about this series and I’m curious.

  30. Green says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this wonderful review with no spoiler! I agree that these books should not be spoiled at all.

    I picked up The Thief in my local library and liked it but didn’t love it. Then I discovered there was a sequel and borrowed it out of curiosity. HOLY SMOKES. Best sequel ever. I loved it so much that I’ve been keeping an eye on Turner (obsessively) ever since.

    One thing that bothers me is that for whatever reason the series is always classified under the children’s section in my local library and bookstores… I think young adults and adults would get much more out these books.

  31. Carol says:

    And I’m off to add these to my wishlist.

  32. Jamie aka ReadsInTrees says:

    *happy sigh* Thank you for that lovely review. I love these books so much that it’s hard for me to put into words how wonderful they are…but you did. I read The Thief about ten years ago, freaked out when I saw there was a sequel (cried when I read it), and then freaked out again when I saw a third book get released (and crashed my bike on the way back from the post office with my copy).

    Eugenides definitely has me swooning. Actually, when I think about the emotions and everything going on in these books, I feel a little overwhelmed and just want to cry. No, I think that urge to cry is more like fear that the 4th book won’t be as good (it will, the author is a genius) and even more fear that someone will turn these into bad movies and the original form will be lost…..*sobs*

  33. Ana says:

    :D:D:D:D:D:D

    I always say this but it bears repeating: one of the best things about blogging is this communion over books we have loved! I feel like having a group hug now. :lol:

    So many fans out there! The ones that have read and the ones that will read the books (they are just fans in the make, I am sure).

  34. Peta says:

    Oh noes. I feel as if I must purchase these books at once but I hate reading a series if I can’t read the whole lot back to back as I can’t stand not being able to find out What Happens Next immediately. I am feeling quite torn.

  35. Memory says:

    I love this post. I’ve got to admit, I was undecided after THE THIEF, but THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA won me over in no time flat and THE KING OF ATTOLIA cinched it. I can’t wait for the next book. I’ll probably be buying it in hardcover, and I almost never do that.

  36. Okie says:

    Thanks for a great post. This series has been on my radar for a while but I haven’t yet gotten around to it. I’ve bumped it higher on my backlog thanks to your reviews. Thanks for sharing your love of these books. :)

  37. [...] more and more mentions of these books in the blogosphere recently.  Ana did a fantastic spoiler-free review of the series and pretty much echoed my [...]

  38. Maggie says:

    I am a huge fan of these books and am aching for the next one. i have to say you did a great job of reviewing these without giving anything away, a very tough job especially when reviewing them as a series.

  39. ChriAma says:

    Reading these books is like eating an apple pie. I started with The Thief, just looking for something to kill a little time, but as soon as I finished it I desperately wanted more. I devoured the next 2 books and felt satisfied, but a little guilty. I was torn between wishing I’d read it slower so it would have lasted longer, and so glad that I’d finally discovered What Happens Next. Now that I’ve reread them, I realize that every time I read them it’s a different experience. I still crave the rush you get from reading it the first time, but I discovered some stuff the second time around that you’d really only notice in retrospect, and I’m looking forward to that time in the future when I can read them again… along with the much-awaited FOURTH book!!! How will I ever last until MARCH???

  40. Christine says:

    Eugenides is the most amazing, well developed, entertaining, reputable, snideful, conniving, and all around shocking character I have ever read about, and Megan is a genius for writing his story. Your review covered all that and more, and I have to thank you for it because I could never have managed to describe the tale of Eugenides the thief better than you. Thank you.

  41. [...] than addressing the blizzard of proofreader tags on her Conspiracy of Kings galleys. Where is Eugenides when you need [...]

  42. Jill Patterson says:

    Fabulous review! I love this series and can hardly wait for number 4. I own them all and will reread them again. Especially after the author says on her web page that The Thief has spoilers for The King of Attolia.

  43. flajol says:

    Thanks for a spoiler-free review! I’ve been recommending this series to people at every opportunity, but I find it difficult to describe what they’re about without spoiling the surprises which give the books such impact. I’ll point people here in future.

    With you absolutely when you say this is why I read. Spot on!

  44. Bethany Brockman says:

    This series is my ultimate go to suggestion as a librarian who is asked many times a day “What should I read?” I think about this series and think is it too soon to reread it? No, never. I didn’t realize until this week that Conspiracy of Kings would be out this month. I have just enough time to read the series one more time!

  45. Anonymous says:

    I was a little disapointed in The Conspiracy Among Kings because the book is so much younger than any of the others. I think we didn’t see enough of Gen in this book, but I still loved it! Gen rocks! :D

  46. [...] I’ve read reviews of the series on several different blogs, most notably The Book Smugglers review, and have been dying to read it for awhile.  I couldn’t find it in several bookstores that I [...]

  47. Jathak says:

    In 5th grade, my teacher had this huge Greek mythology unit. Even since then, I have loved everything to do with mythology. I started The Thief in 8th grade because it was on a list for a district book competition. At the time, I knew nothing of it’s Greek-ish setting. However, as soon as I read the first few chapters, I started to find the Greek and mythology connection. The first book took me a while to get through but by the end, The Queen’s Thief series had been added to my list of favorite series along with Percy Jackson, Secrets of Nicholas Flamel, and the Keys to the Kingdom. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three books and I will start the fourth as soon school gets out next week.

  48. [...] also forced me to take these, as they are from one of her favourite series of all time, and I have yet to fall in love with them (can’t [...]

  49. Jessica says:

    I first read The Thief in grade ten, (just finished my first year of university), and fell in love with it. Since that point, I have read it over ten times, and am still in love with it. The entire series is amazing and Turner is just a wondeful author. Even with the change in perspectives, and loss of Gen’s wonderful commentary, I still love the books. I’ve recomended it multiple times, and it’s wonderful to know that there is a spoiler free review.

    The fourth book was just as wonderful as the rest as well.

  50. Rachelle says:

    I know three people who have read this series and I have read countless reviews but I have not yet found a female reader who has not had her heart stolen by Gen. This is a lovely review and you mange to not have ANY spoiler! Amazing! And now I have to go re-read the series again…

  51. Jennifer says:

    Ana, you really captured the essence of this series in your review. I’ve been addicted since I read the first book in 1996. Warning to the new reader, though – you may have noticed the four books were published over the course of 14 years. The six years between Queen and King were especially frustrating! You’re fortunate you’ll be able to read the first four one after the other. Crafting a treasure like this takes time, though, and I was actually a little worried it only took her four years again to publish Conspiracy. No cause for alarm – I loved it, and the only downside came from reading the last page and realizing it will be another four years or so before I have the pleasure, however brief, of holding an unread Queen’s Thief book in my hands again. (Not to mention enjoying a new Rene Milot cover – he’s amazing!)

  52. [...] The Book Smugglers (Review of the first three books) [...]

  53. [...] talented Megan Whalen Turner, author of The Queen’s Thief series (first three books reviewed here, SPOILER FREE) which happens to be one of Ana’s favorite books of ALL TIME. When the time to [...]

  54. [...] book 4 in the EXCELLENT-EXTRAORDINARY-AMAZING Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner. Need I say more??? (If you think I do, it’s because you have not read [...]

  55. Anonymous says:

    I love this series and i hope there will be a fifth book :lol: :P :!:

  56. Anonymous says:

    I absolutley LOVE the thief. Having read it for the first time in third grade I love how my understanding grows every time I read it. I’m undecided about the Queen of Atolia, but maybe I’ll try it again and see what happens.

  57. [...] reviews: Janicu’s Book Blog Angieville Good Books and Good Wine Presenting Lenore The Book Smugglers (review for the series) Chachic’s Book Nook (review for the [...]

  58. Levina says:

    Wow, I had no idea so many people read this! On Goodreads.com – where I posted my review, the third book only has 4,000 reviews! Compared to some books that have 1, 000 000, it’s really sad. I want to give this series more attention and I see you’ve done it well – great review and response! Well done. :D

  59. Aleyda says:

    Excellent review! I love Gen! I have also read The name of the Wind and I’m currently reading book two of the series! Can’t wait for upcoming updates ;)

  60. Anonymous says:

    i love this series!

  61. Anonymous says:

    I love these books! They’re plain genius, really awesome and I can’t wait to read the sequels!

  62. [...] Book Smugglers (ser på hele sereien) [...]

  63. Anonymous says:

    Would love to see these books made into movie!

  64. Samantha R. says:

    This review captures the spirit of the series more elegantly than any other I’ve read. I spent the better part of last night rereading the first three books to prepare myself for reading the fourth today, and I was awestruck by how completely this world and these characters captured me again. These book offer more upon repeat reading than perhaps any other series I’ve come across.

  65. I’ve read this series over at least 3 times, maybe more. I’m a re-reader when I find I love the time, place, and people of a book. I’m the same way with Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown and Blue Sword. Eugenides is one of my favorite characters of all time! Each of these books totally stand on their own and have their own feel and enjoyment. Mrs. Turner, I would like some more of your very enjoyable reads.

  66. bea says:

    I read your review… after I read all four of the Thief books, and I must say your review is perfectly on target. I have re-read the first two books after reading the last volume, Conspiracy of Kings. What a clever and sensitive writer is Megan Whelan Turner. She took me by surprise in every volume. I did adjust with each change of narrative, I did fall in love with Gen (and the Queens), and I can only hope to find more of her books to get involved with. I am an art teacher in an elementary school. Her books are for adults of all ages who want adventure, romance, mystery, depth of character, and great dialogue. I enjoyed reading your review, Ana.

  67. [...] Gen, Eugenides is a thief. He boasts that he can steal anything. That lands him in the King of Sounis’ prison where he spends a couple of months until he is offered, by the King’s Magus, his freedom but in return he has to steal something that people don’t even think really exists. (The Book Smugglers) [...]

  68. Anonymous says:

    i want a 5th book

  69. Anonymous says:

    I think the next book is the queen’s thief (short story of gen’s early life by disney)

  70. Janna says:

    Wow, you did an amazing job of capturing the spirit and essence of the series without sharing (as far as I could tell) any spoilers…that’s impressive! :-) I tried to explain the series to someone to convince them they had to read it, but I literally kept stopping and starting and stumbling over my words to try and get them to understand how amazing the books are without giving away the plot. I think now I’ll just point them to your review.

    Also, I really appreciate your analysis of the changing POV. It bothered me that the first and fourth (partly) books were first person, while the second and third were completely third person, but your explanation of why it had to be like that made perfect sense. Really intelligent, beautiful review. Thanks!

  71. sandy says:

    I just have to say I agree in all shapes and forms. I quite think gen is my favorite main character of all time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current month ye@r day *

:D :-) :( :o 8O :? 8) :lol: :x :P :oops: :cry: :evil: :twisted: :roll: :wink: :!: :?: :idea: :arrow: :| :mrgreen: