I don’t remember being overly enthused with this book the first time I read it. Actually, it wasn’t until after reading and falling in love with the sequel, The Queen of Attolia (QoA) and deciding I had to read the first book, that I realized I had already read The Thief. I found it much better on the second try. Still, it remains my least favorite of Megan Whalen Turner’s books so far simply because Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia have to take the cake when it comes to my favorites (we’ll see how A Conspiracy of Kings is once it comes out next month!).
Nevertheless, The Thief is excellently written and quickly catches the reader’s attention. Set in a land that Megan Whalen Turner has based somewhat on ancient Greece, this fantasy novel focuses on the lands of Attolia, Eddis and Sounis. And it finds our hero and main character, the thief Eugenides in prison for stealing the Sounisan king’s seal and bragging about it. “I can steal anything,” he insists and before he knows it, he’s released from prison by the king’s magus himself; his skills in thievery are wanted for a mission, but other than those few details, he is told nothing.
And so begins a journey of unlikelies: the Magus, his two apprentices, Sophos and Ambiades, Pol, a soldier, and our favorite thief, Gen. All to steal the most valuable object that all three countries would go to war for. Is Eugenides up to the task? Is there anyone he can trust? Is anyone exactly who he appears to be?
Eugenides is a character you can’t help but like. In discussions with friends, we’ve decided he reminds us a bit of Lord Peter Wimsey, a bit of Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle, but remains entirely a character of his own. He’s scrappy, ingenius and outright hilarious at times – entirely real and up there on my list of favorite literary characters. Megan Whalen Turner has crafted his character superbly and it gets only better with each of her novels.