Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It’s Queen’s Thief Week – Squee!

I’ve mentioned before what a fan I am of Megan Whalen Turner’s series, but now I get to devote a whole post to her! Chachic’s Book Nook is doing a tribute week to all things Queen’s Thief and I would be incredibly ungrateful if I didn’t add my humble bit of praise, too.

The Queen’s Thief series is comprised of four books (with two more still in the works): The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings).

It is by far my favorite MG/YA series, due in large part to the main character, Eugenides. Fallible, petulant, supremely tricksy, a coward, a hero, and an archtype of mercy  -  if you haven’t yet been introduced to the Thief, Eugenides, then any description I can give will never suffice. He is one of the most complex and surprising characters in literature today.

The series is set in a world similar to ancient Greece where three small rival nations, Eddis, Attolia, and Sounis face not only threats from each other, but also the encroachment of the powerful Mede Empire, intent on gaining a foothold on their little peninsula.

Beyond the basic background, though, I hesitate to tell you too much. Much of the brilliance of the series comes from the moments when you realize that the story you have been blithely reading and making assumptions about is not, in fact, the story that is being told. These revelations hit like lightning bolts of clarity, but on a second read, every clue was there all along.

Here's my pitch: Read The Series! (From the beginning. And stay away from spoilerish reviews before you read.)

Now, from an aspiring author’s perspective, let me tell you a few things I find amazing about Megan Whalen Turner’s work.

Characters: As I mentioned here in one of my earlier posts, Megan Whalen Turner (mwt to her fans) does a remarkable job with characterization. Every character, not just ‘the important ones,’ has motive, backstory and depth. It’s the relationships between the characters, though, that draws me to this series. No one, and no relationship, is black and white. The people have loyalties to friends, family, country and self, and these intermix to form a vibrant reality within the books.

World Building: For a MG/YA series, the world of the Queen’s Thief books is highly complex. Not the geography, or even the way the people live. Those would be familiar to anyone with a basic understanding of Greek or Roman culture. But the simplicity of the backdrop allows for more time to be spent on very twisty political machinations and very real human interactions (including one of the most complicated and satifying romances I have ever read).

Revelatory writing: I’ll admit it, I was really thinking of the Queen’s Thief series here when I listed ways to prejudice the readers opinion of events and characters. I have read and reread mwt’s books to try to see how, even though I know these characters, she is still able to make me jump to wrong conclusions and make false assumptions about their actions.

Five Years: That’s the average time between mwt’s books. I’m so glad I discovered them after the first three were out. Now there are four books and it’s been out almost two years, so only three more years to go till the next book! (Yes, that truly is the mindset of Queen’s Thief fans.) Mwt has an extremely loyal (and patient) fan base, many of whom congregate at Sounis.  They do fanart,  fanfic, and interpretive dance. They knit and wear liberated (mismatched) socks. This is possibly one of my favorite posts where the illustrator of the beautiful covers shares the collaborative process of creating them.

 So, there’s my ode. Please take the time to look into this series. The first book, The Thief, is the most MG in theme and writing, but even if you don’t think it’s your usual faire, plug away till you get to book two which is deep and sophisticated, and oh, so satisfying a read. It only gets better from there.

Thanks, mwt, for sharing your world with us.

~ Susan

* pictures from


  1. LOL, I just bought The Theif yesterday because of your recommendations on earlier posts. I guess I better move it up on my TBR list. :)

    BTW, if anyone is interested it was only $1.99 on amazon for the electronic copy. Got it my kindle now. I don't know if the low price is temporary, so now might be a good time to buy.

  2. The Thief just moved to the top of my to read list. I'm in the middle of Pawn of Prophecy. This group is keeping me well stocked with reading material!

  3. I second Melanie. These sound awesome. Thanks Susan.

  4. Guilty hand raise - loved book one, HATED book 2. Maybe because I couldn't get over the beginning scene, and because I felt a certain character spent too much time being morose?

    Though based on reviews I've heard of the third and fourth books, I'm wondering if I overreacted. Should I give the series a second chance? (I can guess your answer, but I'd love any further thought. You can email me if you want to avoid spoilers for the group).

  5. Sabrina, please read the third book. It is my favorite.

    I hope this isn't spoilerish, but you might consider that book 2 is a painful, but subtle and realistic character arc of someone growing up (a vital step in the rest of the series).

    Mwt made a comment once about characters only being able to outwit everything and play pranks for so long and still keep a readers attention - no, the real story moves forward when things change drastically and the character must change(grow)drastically, too. I have come to appreciate that brutal advice more and more as I write my own stuff.

    Anyway, my 2 cents on the second book. Give the third book a try, I found it truly amazing.


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