The Thief C+
By Megan Whalen Turner
Brief summary: Gen is good at what he does: stealing from the rich (and occasionally the poor) and giving to himself. However, a few slip ups lead to his imprisonment in the King’s prison. When the Magus, advisor to the king, offers him freedom in exchange for his help, Gen agrees.
Protagonist: Gen is an awesome protagonist. He’s smart, scheming and suave. However, he doesn’t get off scott free for running his mouth. So, despite having amazing skills and a clever mind, he’s spared from the Mary-Sueness some protagonists suffer from. He’s refreshingly human, occasionally making mistakes of bad judgements, but he’s also resourceful. Also, the author does a great job of letting us into his head without revealing the plot twists. 9/10
Antagonist: This is the main failing point of the story. We lack a clear antagonist. While the King is certainly a despicable person, he doesn’t qualify as the villain. And the Queen of Atollia, who is a key player in the next novel (this is a trilogy, btw), doesn’t get much screen time. Now, there is a traitor who is probably the book’s main villain, but his betrayal isn’t developed or hinted at enough to be truly satisfying. Still, the book has a plot, although is could have had a few more high-tension points. 5/10
Supporting Cast: The supporting cast is small but well-developed. They are every bit as human as Gen, and it’s a lot of fun trying to figure them out. The Magus especially is very well developed. 8/10
Main Conflict: This is the story’s main falling point. While there is a clear quest, retrieving Hamiathes’ Gift, they spend more time getting there than being there. In the meantime, there is a lot of character development, but it lacks the action necessary to hold interest. This story really could have benefited from a villain or a few more chase scenes. The mythology stories were a nice add, though, and they were woven in expertly. That saves the plot from beind a complete drag. 10/15
Leading/Falling Action: Well, like I said, this book is mostly leading/falling action. The leading is okay, even if it drags, but I felt like the falling action took too long. While it does allow for some nice plot twists, and the story wraps up better than most, it just took too darn long in getting there. 2/5
Back story: Perfect. Back story is a huge part of the plot twists at the end, and it’s hinted at without being too obvious. By far the best part of the book. 5/5
Description: Spartan in nature, it still gives enough of a picture for the audience to work with. Since Gen is the narrator, and he’s such an intelligent person, I would hope for more thoughtful insights about the scenery. At least using his thief-vision to point out amusing things. Still, too little is better than too much, and the description did it’s job, even if it wasn’t particularly beautiful. 13/15
Style: The Pantheon Turner has created is rich and believable, and the way she incorporates the mythology into the story makes for a delightful read. As I said before, description can be sparse. However, great characters and a flair for the unexpected make the story enjoyable. Also, anyone who creates an entire culture (three, actually) and religion for their story certainly gains points for style. 14/15
Theme: Gen is a believable human, and Turner isn’t afraid to delve into political matters. There are some subtle messages here about Imperialism and belief, even if they do take a back seat. 4/5
Originality: The Thief gains its originality by taking and old concept, Greek Gods, and adding a personal twist. Also, gambling the entire plot on plot twists at the very end was a risky move. While the results are mixed, it certainly tried to break away from the standard quest/danger plots. 9/10
Final Grade: 79%. So, The Thief turns out to be a slightly above average, interesting book, even if it’s not as thrilling as it could be.
The Thief C+