by Megan Whalen Turner
Plot Summary:The most powerful advisor to the King of Sounis is the magus. He's not a wizard, he's a scholar, an aging solider, not a thief. When he needs something stolen, he pulls a young thief from the King's prison to do the job for him.
Gen is a thief and proud of it. When his bragging lands him behind bars he has one chance to win his freedom-- journey to a neighboring kingdom with the magus, find a legendary stone called Hamiathes's Gift and steal it.
The magus has plans for his King and his country. Gen has plans of his own.
Review:It is so difficult to review this book because it is an excellent read, but to really delve into why it is excellent might detract from the experience for new readers! And I really think it helped going into this story with little expectations. It does take a bit of time for the story to pick up, but I did find the author's descriptions of the world and of the lives of these people so vivid as to be completely fascinating, and I enjoyed all the details.
I think this story has a perfect blend of character development, plot and world building. All three support each other so well to tell the story. Just when it is necessary to know more about a character, the information is dropped in - as well as the information concerning the beliefs and politics of the world, and the purpose of the story. The plot does seem aimless at times in the beginning, but I enjoyed how everything was made clear as things that were hinted or briefly mentioned in the beginning became important. The story builds very well as we get to know more about the characters and their motivations.
Gen is such a fun character - wry, unrepentant, and very cocksure - he narrates the book and keeps the flow of the story entertaining with his observations of his fellow travelers. Everybody it seems has secrets in this book, and it really felt like I was there on this journey of discovery with these characters as I continued to read. The writing, the characters and the world building - with it's influences of Greek mythology - all felt real and striking. I think when it comes to a book of this kind of fantasy, there is an expectation of real emotional poignancy. And there were a couple emotional moments in this book that could have been very affecting, but the plot moved too quickly to dwell on it. That made this story lighter fantasy fare - which is nice to read sometimes because it is just pure entertainment.
This is a fantastic adventure tale with some surprising twists and great characters. And I've heard that the second book "The Queen of Attolia" is much better, so I'm really looking forward to finding out why!