Reviews: Turner, Megan Whalen

May All Your Rambling Bring You Joy

Thick as Thieves — Megan Whalen Turner
Queen's Thief, book 5

2017’s Thick as Thieves is the fifth volume in Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. Previous books in the series were reviewed here, here, here, and here.

Kamet’s fate is tied to that of his owner, Nahuseresh. For much of his life, his owner’s power and prosperity have served Kamet well. He is educated, owns a handful of possessions, and enjoys considerable power as his owner’s public voice. Of late, however, Nahuseresh has suffered setback after setback. All thanks to Eugenides, former Thief of Eddis turned King of Attolia. Nahuseresh’s setbacks are Kamet’s as well.

Even so, Eugenides’ offer, relayed by his intermediary Costis, of sanctuary and freedom from his master is laughable. Why would Kamet give up all he has for life in a backward, foreign land filled with illiterate barbarians?

Escaping death is a good reason.

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Treachery and Treason

A Conspiracy of Kings — Megan Whalen Turner
Queen's Thief, book 4

2010’s A Conspiracy of Kings is the fourth and most recent (but not final!) volume in Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series.

The new alliance between Attolia and Eddis, sanctified by marriage between the Queen of Eddis’ Thief and the Queen of Attolia, put the neighbouring kingdom of Sounis in a very awkward position. Divided, Attolia and Eddis seemed no match for Sounis. United, they force the King of Sounis and his barons to choose between several unpalatable options: make peace with Eddis and Attolia or ally with the expansionist Mede Empire. One option is humiliating but the other may be national suicide.

There is a third option: civil war.

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Thief King

King of Attolia — Megan Whalen Turner
Queen's Thief, book 3

2006’s The King of Attolia is the third novel in Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series.

Marry the queen, become king! Sounds like a great career path. Except it turns out that kings have responsibilities and that their subjects have Expectations with a capital E. And there are enemies eager to take advantage of the King’s failure to perform as expected.

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Reconsidering the Queen

The Queen of Attolia — Megan Whalen Turner
Queen's Thief, book 2

I last read Megan Whalen Turner’s 2001 novel The Queen of Attolia on January 1st, 2003. I know because I still have the report I wrote for the SFBC. I also know—now—how grateful I should be to Andrew Wheeler for not making my reports generally available1. “Unduly harsh” is the kindest thing I can say about my thirteen-year-old review of The Queen of Attolia.

An explanation but not an excuse: I read Queen without reading The Thief, the book to which it is a sequel. This is fine for some series books (I cannot say my (non)enjoyment of whichever Time of Wheel book I read or that Throne of Games book where people did nasty stuff was in any way affected by not having read the preceding books) but not for this one.

How often can one talented thief, even one as talented as Eugenides, the Queen’s Thief of Eddis, sneak into the Queen of Attolia’s heavily guarded buildings?

One time more than he can successfully sneak back out.

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It takes a thief

The Thief — Megan Whalen Turner
Queen's Thief, book 1

I admit I approached The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner’s 1996 novel, with trepidation. Not only was it a Newbery Honor Book (with all that implies), but I had previously read and disliked its sequel The Queen of Attolia. Having read and enjoyed The Thief, I am forced to consider that perhaps I misjudged The Queen of Attolia.

By his own testimony, Gen is the greatest thief the city-state of Sounis has ever seen. That same testimony appears to mark him as somewhat less than the most astute thief in Sounis, because Gen made that boast to a client who turns out to be a government agent.

By the time the book opens, Gen has spent a fair time in a dank prison, contemplating escape options. Gen can steal anything but not, it seems, his own self from a secure dungeon.

An opening to freedom appears in the form of the King’s magus, who needs a talented thief.

Someone who can steal a magical icon straight out of a fairy tale.

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