“I was thinner than I had been when I was first arrested. The large iron ring around my waist had grown loose, but not loose enough to fit over the bones of my hips. Few prisoners wore chains in their cells, only those that the king particularly disliked: counts or dukes or the minister of the exchequer when he told the king there wasn’t any more money to spend. I was certainly none of those things, but I suppose it’s safe to say that the king disliked me” (Turner, 1998, p.3-4).
Gen is a talented thief locked up in the king’s prison until, one day, he is dragged from his cell by the king’s magus. The king has ordered Gen to steal Hamiathes’s Gift, a creation of the gods said to give the right of rule to its wearer.
I loved this book, reading it in a matter of hours. Though the author’s note, found at the end of the book, states, “nothing in this book is historically accurate,” the descriptions of the landscape of ancient Greece (where the story takes place) are. Megan Whalen Turner’s descriptions of Greece are fascinating (I especially enjoyed reading about the foods they ate). Tween readers will love the sarcastic and sneaky Gen, as well the book’s surprise ending concerning his true identity. Filled with action, adventure, fantasy, and humor, I believe The Thief is a book that will grab even the most reluctant of readers (especially boys)!
Reading/interest level: ages 10 and up
Awards: 1997 Newbery Honor Book
Similar title: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner