Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**     = Enjoyable
*       = Good, with reservations

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*****The Thief

by Megan Whalen Turner

Reviewed April 8, 2003.
Puffin Books, 1998.  First published by Greenwillow Books, 1996.  219 pages.
A 1997 Newbery Honor Book
A Sonderbooks’ Best Book of 2001
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #3, Young Adult Historical Fiction Rereads
Available at Sembach Library (JF TUR)

This book was among those recently donated to our library by the Sembach Officers’ Spouses’ Club, so I thought it would be a good time to read it again.

What a delight!  It turns out that this book is even more fun the second time around, as now I can thoroughly enjoy the author’s cleverness, reading the book on a whole new level now that I know how it ends.

The book begins with Gen in the king’s prison.  He boasted in a wine shop that he could steal anything.  When someone asked him to prove it, Gen took the bet and stole the king’s seal.  When he showed up the next day with the proof, of course he was arrested.

Now the king’s Magus offers Gen a way out of the prison, if he will do the little job of stealing an important artifact.  That job ends up being in another country and extremely difficult.  Gen travels with the Magus, his two young apprentices and one of their bodyguards.  Along the way, we hear stories from the mythology of the three countries they travel through and learn why the artifact they seek is so crucial.  No one who has sought it before has ever come back.

This book is hard to classify.  There are gods who act in men’s behalf, so that almost makes it fantasy.  On the other hand, it’s set in a world very like ancient Greece.  I decided to call it historical, even though the setting is only similar to Greece, but not exactly the same.  None of the characters themselves have magical powers, so it doesn’t really fit in the fantasy genre. 

The first time I read this book, I read it aloud.  My older son had read it and then said we had to read it as our next choice for bedtime reading, he liked it so much.  It didn’t work out too well as a read-aloud.  Their journey at the beginning goes on too long, and Gen sounds whiney when all his words are read out loud.  Even read aloud, by the end of the book, I thought it a magnificent story.  Read silently, the journey length isn’t a problem, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It’s impossible to tell all the reasons this book is great without giving something away.    Trust me on this one.  Here’s an exceptional book you’re sure to enjoy!

Review of this book in audio form.

Other books by Megan Whalen Turner:
The Queen of Attolia (sequel to The Thief)
The Queen of Attolia audiobook
The King of Attolia
The King of Attolia audiobook
A Conspiracy of Kings
A Conspiracy of Kings audiobook
Thick as Thieves
Instead of Three Wishes



Reader comment:  Lacey gives this book 5 stars with the comment, "This is one of my all-time favorite books!  I read it at least once a year and it just keeps getting better with every read.  Even though this book has sequels it stands on its own.  If you haven't, you must read this book!

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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