The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner is a YA light fantasy filled with amazing world building, political intrigue, and unreliable narrators.
I bought The Thief on a whim at my local bookstore. It was one of those books I had seen drifting around the internet with praise always attached to the title. Picking up a copy was only a matter of time.
When I say I blew through this series, I mean it. I began the first book on a Thursday and found myself finishing the fifth the following Tuesday. Time stopped being real somewhere in the middle. Fantasy books that take place in their own worlds are always hit or miss for me, as a lot of time is spent on expository world-building and not on the characters. For me, there’s nothing better than falling in love with a character whose adventures make you want to keep reading while simultaneously wishing it’ll never end.
This is the great thing about The Queen’s Thief: it is, in essence, a character study. There is an ensemble of characters you grow to love despite various shortcomings and setbacks–and believe me, there are many setbacks.
The Thief, the first book in the series, is told in first person point of view. Eugenides, aka Gen, is a self-proclaimed master thief who begins the novel in a prison in the kingdom of Sounis. Gen is obnoxious, sarcastic, but most of all likable. His entire personality appears to be the antithesis of what’s necessary for thieving, until the Magus, a trusted advisor of the Sounisian king, declares that Gen can win back his freedom if he provides help on a quest.
On the journey, Turner delicately widens the scope of the world Gen lives in. Made of up of the three kingdoms Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia, the reader is slowly but surely clued in on the fragile politics threading the three nations together. Turner draws inspiration from Greek myths, culture, and society, though not the history. The kingdoms and their political entanglements resemble those of the Mediterranean region. Each subsequent novel reveals more players in a game where every move risks the collapse of a nation.
Turner said in an interview with Leigh Bardugo that each book presents itself as an opportunity to see Gen from a different perspective. Quite frankly, that couldn’t be more true. Each book is considered a standalone set in the same universe, growing further from the thieving protagonist we love so much. Though by the end of The Thief you know who Gen is, there’s a thrill in seeing other characters realize how much they’ve underestimated him. Even better; the repercussions of that underestimation.
If it’s the last thing you do, read these books.