Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Return of the Theif
by Megan Whalen Turner

This is a tricky book to review but first, it is FABULOUS and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!

Second, however, you need to read the entire series first and I don’t want to tell you anything about any of them because the twists and revelations are just that good. It’s not really a spoiler to tell you all of the twists and turns that happen over the course of this series, because nothing is going to spoil these books, and I can and do reread them with pleasure, however it seems criminally negligent to deprive anyone of their first experience with it.

So I’m going to say, go read The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and enjoy a wonderful light adventure story in a fantasy version of the ancient Mediterranean peninsula, and then read the sequel where consequences start to get real and then every other book after that. And don’t even read the back blurbs of each book until you’ve read the previous books.

One thing I will say about this particular book is that it is the sixth book in the series and a grand finale. I am incredibly impressed with Turner’s ability to stick the landing, because not many authors of series can do that. There are a number of different threads going through the whole series that she not only kept track of but ensured the reader could keep track of too. And in addition to the main conflict, there was a whole secondary thematic build-up that I never even noticed happening until it came to a head in this book. I enjoyed it in the previous books and had sort of noticed it becoming more intense in each book but hadn’t given it much thought until this one and just, ooooh!

This book is also possibly the twistiest of all the books as new revels keep on happening and every character has their own complexities, and themes from previous books have reprisals, and just, my god, this book was amazing and this series was amazing and this is an amazingly worthy climax. 

The Thief

thiefAges ago–maybe two or three years ago–Anna sent me a Kindle book called The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner, as a gift. She told me it was YA fantasy/adventure book that she really liked and she thought I would like too. And I read it and I thought it was fun and and well written and had an interesting twist at the end, and I moved on with my life and didn’t think about it again. Then a few weeks ago I was on vacation, sitting on the beach, and when I finished my trashy romance novel I didn’t feel like walking back the beach house to get another book. So I started poking around my Kindle, looking for something else to occupy me until I was willing to leave the beach, and The Thief popped up. I started re-reading it and was reminded of how much I enjoyed it and then a tiny voice emerged from somewhere in the depths of my memory: could there be . .  did Anna say . .  is there a sequel? You guys, there wasn’t just one sequel, there were THREE, and apparently two more books on the way. And as much as I liked The Thief, the two books that came after it were so so good that I am now completely obsessed and desperately waiting for number 4 to come in at the library.

So The Thief is about a thief (yes) named Gen who we first meet in the king’s prison after he was caught stealing something audacious and then bragging about it in the pubs. Enter the king’s magus, who offers to get Gen out of prison if he will use his considerable thieving skills to steal something important for the king. The thief, the magus, and the other folks in their little party then ride around dodging soldiers, looking for this mysterious object, and trying not get killed by any of their enemies. The actual thing they’re trying to steal was a bit of a MacGuffin for me, but Gen is a smart, tricky character, and up until the last minute it’s never quite clear who’s using who and how much Gen is controlling the situation. It’s suspenseful with a dark edge (there are deaths along the way and prison is not sugar-coated), but Gen himself is very entertaining.

It’s the second and third books that take the action to a whole new level with intrigue and awesome characters and complexity. However, it’s challenging to talk about these, because you can’t even describe the most basic plot elements of any books past the first without ruining the fun of the first book. So I’m not going to say a word about what happens in the rest of this series–I’m not even going to write out the titles. You’re just going to have to trust me when I say that books get twistier and darker and better.

This is like when I owned paperback copies of the Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart books, a YA Victorian mystery trilogy he wrote before his famous His Dark Materials trilogy. They’re great books that I was constantly loaning to people, but reading even the first line of the description on the back of the second book just about ruined the first one, so I taped post-it notes over the back of the books so that I could hand someone the whole stack with spoiling them on the plot before the were ready. So consider this review a virtual stack of books with post-its taped on the back. I love these books. The third one is my favorite, but these are quick reads and fit nicely together as one whole story. I should have listened more carefully to Anna when she initially told me about these, since she’s always right these things. Don’t make my mistake!

Kinsey’s Three Word Review: Dark, complicated adventures.

You might also like:
The Phillip Pullman books that I mentioned, actually, as well as a number of things that we’ve already raved about here: the Graceling books by Kristen Cashore, The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson, and the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers (the killer nun books). You might also like Cinda Williams Chima’s series that starts with The Warrior Heir, a fantasy YA story that did a number of interesting things and that hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves–it’s the better version of the Mortal Instruments series.

Stalking Authors, the Ilona Andrews edition

Magic_RisesPeriodically I like to drop by the websites of my favorite authors to see when their next books are coming out and if they have anything new and interesting up.

Lois McMaster Bujold doesn’t tend to update her website very much, alas. But she does actively support fanfiction, which I appreciate.

Patricia Briggs is pretty good with her website, although she’s gotten somewhat less active on it as her career has taken off.

Ilona Andrews is still very active on social media, including their own website, AND posts regular free stuff.

Robin McKinely has a decent website, although I’m generally somewhat disappointed in her. I love her early work (The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, and Beauty) and feel like Sunshine was her absolute Best Book Ever! Ever since, it’s been just kind of down hill. But I still like to check up on her, periodically, to see if maybe there will be a sequel to Sunshine at some point, or if any of her more recent books look good.

Megan Whalen Turner has possibly the least active author’s website I’ve seen, and yet I still check back because, by god, if there’s going to be another book in series, I will start stalking bookstores and possibly publisher’s warehouses in the hopes of getting to it just that much sooner. (So far, no luck. I will just have to re-read the four that already exist.)

Anyway, this is all a long wind up to letting you guys know that Ilona Andrews has the first chapter of her next book up! This is book 6 is the Kate Daniels series, Magic Rises, due out on July 30, 2013. Yay! You can read the excerpt: HERE!!!

I love this series.

However… the chapter raises some concerns for me.

Thus: Here Be Spoilers (for both Book 5 and for Book 6).

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