November 28, 2011

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner is a young adult fantasy novel that won a Newberry award in 1997. It popped up as suggested in my Goodreads feed and was highly rated, so I thought I would give it a try. It tells the story of a thief named Gen, recruited out of prison to help the king’s scholar steal a mythical treasure.

I enjoyed a lot of the elements of the novel—I like the fantasy genre, trickster-style characters, and a dash of adventure. But I just found this book incredibly slow. At least 75% of the novel describes their journey to get the treasure. I’m not talking about adventure-filled, action-packed travels where they fight evil and meet interesting side characters, I’m talking about a trudging, slow moving, character-development-through-long conversation type of trip.

I wasn’t a fan of the mythology in the book. I couldn’t picture a similar time period in my head, it varied from Biblical times, to feudal society, to ancient Greece. Oh, and then there were guns. I understand that fantasy writers pick and choose the elements of their world, but the use of very specific historic words from different time periods (like magus and megaron and dukes juxtaposed with guns) made it feel cobbled together to me.

On the plus side, I do find Turner to be a talented writer, even if I don’t like the way the story unfolded. And the last few chapters are great. Seriously, that’s what I wanted to entire book to be like. But it was just too little too late for me.

Two stars.
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