Chachic's Book Nook


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Queen’s Thief Week: Giveaway Winner and Wrap-Up

The winner of the Queen’s Thief Week giveaway is: Lusty Reader!

This is what she had to say:

yay, thanks for having a giveaway! *throws confetti*

if i won id like your recommendation of the 1st in the Tamora Pierce Trickter’s series. i own all her Song of the Lioness and Immortals series books but none of the others.

Congrats, Lusty Reader! Expect an email from me, asking for your address so I’d know where to send the book. I have a Queen’s Thief Week hangover. I’ve been telling everyone that I’m sad that it’s over. It was an amazing week and I would like to thank everyone who participated: thank you, guest authors and bloggers! Thank you, everyone who left comments and spread the word about the blog event. I organized Queen’s Thief Week because I wanted to share my love of Megan Whalen Turner and it makes me happy to know that there are so many out there who adore her books just as much as I do. *worldwide group hug for all MWT fans* For those who haven’t read the series (what are you waiting for?! Queen’s Thief Week didn’t convince you?), you can all drop by and check out the posts once you’ve finished the books but I just wanted to mention that most of them are spoiler-free, and those that mention spoilers contain warnings. It has been an amazing week and this will probably go down as one of the biggest highlights in my blogging history. How awesome is it that two favorite authors – EWein and MWT – are top commenters on my blog:

Here’s a list of all the posts:
How I Discovered the Series
Checkers from Sounis, recommendations for MWT fans
Sherwood Smith, with an in-depth analysis of all the books
Melina Marchetta, “What I love about Eugenides…”
Holly of Book Harbinger, with an acrostic to describe Eugenides
Megan Whalen Turner, “The Evolution of Not-Telling”
Angie of Angieville, about bibliovangelizing the series
Sarah Rees Brennan, “The Queen’s Thief, Sarah and Bookpushing”
Ana of The Book Smugglers, “Why I Adore The Queen’s Thief Series”
R.J. Anderson, “How I Fell in Love with the Queen’s Thief series (and Why)”
Elizabeth Wein, “Looking Together in the Same Direction”
A spoiler-free post about the romance in the series
Vince Natale, illustrator of the book covers, talks about the creative process and shares sketches of the covers


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Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Vince Natale

Vince Natale is the incredibly talented artist responsible for the matching covers of the Queen’s Thief series. I seriously love these covers so I wanted to feature Vince here on the blog for Queen’s Thief Week. I’m pretty clueless when it comes to interviewing illustrators so I asked my friend Capillya of That Cover Girl to help me out with the questions. Also, his concept art for the series has been featured on Sounis, which you can view here and here (click on the links only if you’ve read the books, some images may be spoilery).

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Have you always wanted to become an illustrator? How did you get into illustrating book covers?
I knew I wanted to become an illustrator during my second year of art school. I’d always wanted to be an artist, but wasn’t really aware of the potential in the commercial area, the interesting and broad variety of things that people/companies needed to have art for. When I met my illustration mentor Peter Caras, I was really attracted to the types of things he was doing and decided that illustration was the thing for me.

I got into book covers, I suppose, because of the great demand, the fact that my mentor was a book cover illustrator, and with books there was lots of room for creativity, and varied subject matter.

What’s it like doing the artwork for the Queen’s Thief series? Was there pressure to make them have the same feel? Did they give you free rein in coming up with a concept?
Working on the Attolia series was a great experience. I really had a lot of fun with these covers. They were limited in their complexity, which meant I could focus on interesting detail, work with creative lighting situations, and color schemes. There was a need for these covers all to have the same “feel”, but I wouldn’t call it “pressure”. Most of the “feel” I think came from the squarish shape of the art, and the kind of zooming in on details of a “scene” rather than a whole scene itself. Hands were important, and kind of the focus, and definitely a common thread in the covers, as well as no complete faces.

For the first three books the publisher (editors/art directors) had a rough idea of what they wanted for the covers. and sent me some mocked up comps to go by. Of course visual things changed a little bit due to my input and interpretation, but the basic idea or concept remained. The last book, though, was a different story. I was given the manuscript to read and come up with concepts. I sketched out quite a few ideas for the publisher – there was just so much imagery in the book that really could have worked well in expressing the theme and color of the story. After seeing my rough concepts the editors decided that something including a horse in it might be more appropriate. I wasn’t in total agreement with them on this as it would force the cover to have a decidedly different look, content and design/composition wise, than the rest. They were OK with that, and after I delivered sketches of the main character on horseback, that’s what they decided to go with.

I love the common theme of hands and only partially seen faces in the covers. Did you get to read any of the books? If so, which one was your favorite, and did it have a connection to the ease of illustrating for that cover?
The only complete book I read was the last one (A Conspiracy of Kings). Reading it gave plenty of fodder for visual imagery and it was somewhat easy to come up with ideas. For the other books I was given synopses that gave me enough information to get a good idea of the characters’ personalities, looks, attitudes and behaviours. They also gave me good idea of plot and atmosphere, as well as background settings to work from in order to decide on a “tone” or “feel” for the individual illustrations.

How would you describe your particular type of artistry?
Hmm. I suppose my style of work would be considered contemporary realism. Some say photorealism. Me, I just call it realism.

Can you give us samples of other book covers that you’ve designed?
Gee, I’ve done so many. I’ve done covers in the genre’s of Horror, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Mens Adventure, Historical, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Vampires, and Young Adult.

What are some of your favorite book covers?
The Attolia series happen to be a few of my favorites. Others that I like, and liked doing were some of the covers for “The Vampire Huntress series” by LA Banks. Generally, my favorite things are on the darker, more mysterious side.

If anyone is interested in seeing more work, feel free to point them to my website.

Can you give us sample sketches that you did for the covers?
These first four are my “tight” or final sketches for the covers showing some color notes as well.

These are the rough sketches I did for Conspiracy of Kings that were rejected. I was REALLY hoping to do the one of him in the embroidered coat with his hands on the hilt of the sword… Oh well!

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Thank you, Vince! Isn’t the whole creative process behind the covers so very interesting? What I love about these covers is they represent the contents of the books really well (except probably for the size of Hamiathes’s Gift in The Thief). I think the sketches for A Conspiracy of Kings are great because those are actual scenes that Vince envisioned while reading the book. I really want to have matching hardcover editions with these beautiful Vince Natale covers. What you think of the Queen’s Thief covers and everything else that Vince shared with us?


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Queen’s Thief Week: The Romance

When I sent out invites for guest posts for Queen’s Thief Week, I told everyone that they can write about whatever they wanted as long as it’s related to the series. I didn’t want the guest posts to be too much of a hassle for them. I was kind of hoping that someone will write about the romance in the novels but since no one did, I get to handle this delicious topic myself. *rubs hands* I don’t think I can do it justice but Eugenides’ love story is one of my favorite aspects of the series and I can’t let the week go by without talking about it. Since I want to encourage more readers to pick up the books, this discussion will be spoiler-free and I won’t even mention who the love interest is (if you’ve read the books, you know how difficult it is to avoid spoilers). The romance doesn’t appear until the second book in the series, The Queen of Attolia. Gen is too much of an arrogant brat in The Thief to fall in love with someone. Also, he needed to do a bit of growing up before he can start thinking about love. I think the character growth and development in the series is amazing, I liked seeing Gen become more mature while still retaining the essence of who he is as a person.

I have to admit that one of the reasons why I love the romance is because I did not see it coming! Let me clarify that, it definitely didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s just that I wasn’t able to predict it. When that declaration of love appeared? I was all “WHAT!” and then “Wait, it makes perfect sense!” It was so subtle that I didn’t see the build-up but once I found out about it, I realized that there were so many hidden clues in the narrative. I didn’t even notice it but MWT was preparing me, the reader, for the romance. I kept going “Oooh so that’s why…” after the big revelation. This is the kind of romance that I love – slow burn romance, layered with complexities and filled with swoon-worthy lines that will slay you. It’s a love story with a lot of depth, not romance that’s based on something flimsy like physical attraction. Definitely none of that instant love nonsense where the hero and heroine take one look at each other and decide they can’t live without the other person. In the Queen’s Thief series, the characters have to work for it. Oh boy, do they have to work for it. So much sacrifice is involved in this particular love story that you ache for the characters.

What I like about Gen and his love interest is they are both flawed individuals. They’re aware of each other’s faults and imperfections and yet there’s still mutual fascination and grudging respect between them, which eventually develops into something more. They have every reason not to trust each other so their courtship has a rocky start. It takes time and effort for them to understand the other person. They’re such wonderful characters that you can’t help but root for their relationship, as soon as you find out about it. I wanted them to be happy and I wanted them to be happy together. I feel like the obstacles make the love story much more believable and relatable – the characters lead complicated lives, the relationships that they build reflect that. We can expect nothing less from fully fleshed out, intelligent and strong characters. I’ve reread the books several times and the romance doesn’t get old for me. It’s still one of my favorite fictional romances of all time.

I can’t help but quote some spoiler-free bits and pieces that I love from The Queen of Attolia, all of which have a little something to do with the romance:

“She’s like a prisoner inside stone walls, and every day the walls get a little thicker, the doorways a little narrower.”

“She thought of the hardness and the coldness she had cultivated over those years and wondered if they were the mask she wore or if the mask had become her self. If the longing inside her for kindness, for warmth, for compassion, was the last seed of hope for her, she didn’t know how to nurture it or if it could live.”

“He lies to himself. If Eugenides talked in his sleep, he’d lie then, too.”

“He could tell her he loved her. He ached to shout it out loud for the gods and everyone to hear. Little good it would do… He was famous in three countries for his lies.”

He anticipated her blow and leaned back. Her hand only brushed his cheek in an entirely unsatisfying manner. “At least that’s one lie I didn’t tell you.”

Whew, is that vague enough for all of you? I want to go on but I don’t want to reveal too much and ruin the reading experience for those who haven’t read the books. I did what I could without mentioning spoilers but I’m not promising that the comments will be spoiler-free as well. Fellow Queen’s Thief fans, do you love the romance in the series as much as I do? Share your favorite lines and scenes in relation to the romance. Oh and if you have recommendations for books with equally excellent love stories, I would gladly read them.

Queen’s Thief Week roundup:
Charlotte has links of where MWT can be found around the interwebs over at Charlotte’s Library
Maureen discusses the myths in the books – The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings


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Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Elizabeth Wein

I first heard about Elizabeth Wein from Sounis. I was thrilled when I discovered that her books are locally available, read The Sunbird and labeled Telemakos, the main character, as Gen-in-Africa. Elizabeth Wein is an under-the-radar author who deserves to get more attention. Seriously, I don’t understand why readers aren’t picking up her books, even Megan Whalen Turner herself recommends them. Code Name Verity, her latest novel about two Women’s Auxiliary Air Force girls set during World War II, has already been released in the UK and will be released in the US this May. Check out what Elizabeth Wein has to say about the similarities and differences between Telemakos and Eugenides.


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Looking Together in the Same Direction

(fairly spoiler free except for the great big obvious ones!)

I first heard of The Thief through a review—a very good one—in The Horn Book Magazine. Since I moved to the UK, The Horn Book has been my number one source of new good reading in the North American children’s book scene, and the summary of The Thief pushed all my buttons. I knew I’d like it.

And I did. What I really loved about it was the way that after you’d finished, you had to go back and read it a second time because now you had a different point of view about everything—you saw how Gen had planned all the things you thought had happened by accident—you noticed how important the little things were, and you watched for them. His bad manners were no longer simply annoying or funny, his long hair was no longer simply a vanity; now you knew it was all part of his arsenal.

This is really my favourite kind of book, where everything looks different on the second reading (most of my own books are constructed this way, in the hope that someone will be tempted to give them a second reading!). You can read a book like this more than once without even feeling self-indulgent, because you are reading a different book the second time around. One of the moments of great genius of The Queen of Attolia is near the beginning, where Moira, the servant of the goddess Hephestia, visits the Queen and advises her. The first time you read it, you don’t realize it is not a human advisor. Yet knowing it is Moira changes the entire significance of the terrible thing that is about to happen to Gen. It isn’t just his destiny: it is the right destiny for him, whether he likes it or not.

My admiration for Megan Whalen Turner’s books stems from my own personal preferences in plot structure and setting, and our books have often been compared—Chachic herself promotes my books to MWT fans by trying to package them as ‘Gen-in-Africa’. It’s true that my character Telemakos shares some of Gen’s characteristics—he is a tricky, highly-connected brat raised in a messed-up but loving aristocratic family with royal connections. Telemakos, like Gen, is rather more highly-connected than most people realize. And both characters inhabit a rather exotic fantasy world based on our own ancient civilizations. Having said that, Telemakos is Telemakos and Gen is Gen. Their situations are alike, but I don’t think their characters are much alike. Telemakos lacks Gen’s vanity, for one thing, and probably Gen’s ambition as well. He has his own set of flaws and strengths.

I wrote The Sunbird about 5 years after reading The Thief, and I was very conscious that the two books had similar premises and that readers might be likely to compare them (in The Sunbird, 11-year-old Telemakos is enlisted as a child spy). So I made sure that whatever other sneaky things he did, Telemakos would not be a thief. He even says so, rather coldly, at one point when his emperor suggests he consider sleight-of-hand as a means of proof. This all falls apart at the end of The Empty Kingdom when he does steal something rather important. But there is a cultural precedent which I did not make up that leads him to this action, and a whole lot of backstory set up to make it the obvious thing for him to do. When he comes face to face with the king he has cheated—not the same one as in The Sunbird—he gets instantly accused, ‘You told me once that you are not a thief!’

Megan Whalen Turner was one of the first readers for The Sunbird—Sharyn November, my editor, is a friend of MWT’s and sent her a copy of the manuscript. She made a few small editorial suggestions and I decided against following them because they seemed to me things that were characteristic of Megan Whalen Turner’s writing, but not of Elizabeth Wein’s. So we maintained a cordial but very distant relationship, all our communication brokered by a third party! She was busy with her writing and her young family, and I was busy with mine.

(spoiler warning for The Queen of Attolia and The Lion Hunter)
Halfway through writing The Lion Hunter, I read The Horn Book review of The Queen of Attolia. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Megan Whalen Turner had a new book out, a sequel to The Thief, and in it her hero got his hand cut off.

I’d just spent about six months adjusting to the fact that my own young hero Telemakos had just lost an arm.

It made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. It was such a ridiculous coincidence, that we’d both disable our heroes in the same way. (end of spoilers) And of course, since MWT had done it first, it was going to look like I got the idea from her. And also of course, I knew I was going to love this book, too. It took me a while to decide whether or not I’d read it right away—I didn’t want to be influenced by it. But after only a week or two I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait till I’d finished writing my own book before I read the new one by MWT.

So I did. And I was glad I did. Because I knew now that our superficially similar heroes were going in their own directions, following their own terrible destinies, and living their own action-packed and exhausting lives.

I confess that I haven’t read A Conspiracy of Kings, and the reason for that is exactly the same reason I dithered over picking up The Queen of Attolia. I am worried that once again our creative intrigue is going to overlap. Lleu, the legitimate heir to my own quasi-historical kingdom, has been installed as a slave in a hedge-lord’s court since the publication of a short story called ‘Fire’ in 1993 in Writers of the Future Vol. IX. The story of how Telemakos finds him and restores him to his kingdom… Well, I have no doubt it won’t resemble the search for Sophos. But I’d just as soon keep myself in blissful ignorance until my own manuscript is safely in the hands of a reliable editor.

Megan Whalen Turner is my hero and my advocate. She has championed my own books, in print and on line, without ever having met me or spoken to me; our body of written work runs nearly parallel in terms of output. Apparently we both procrastinate with knitting needles. It’s a pleasure to join this celebration of her exquisitely crafted novels!

I’ll finish off with a reading recommendation that I haven’t seen here yet, and which anyone who is a committed fan of MWT ought to consider must-reads: the books of Mary Renault. Specifically, to begin with, I’d recommend The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea, which are about the Greek hero Theseus, his defeat of the Minotaur and his doomed marriage to Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons (or King, as her courtiers call her). Seriously, you guys WILL LOVE these books. The King Must Die in particular is a gripping tale of not-quite-doomed youth fighting against a corrupt older generation and winning. The writing is beautiful and if Telemakos is Gen-in-Africa, then Theseus is, well, Gen-in-Ancient-Greece.

Mary Renault’s Alexander trilogy—about the life of Alexander the Great—would probably also appeal. These titles are Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games. Fire from Heaven, about Alexander’s childhood, is probably my favourite. It has the bonus appeal of featuring Hephaestion, Alexander’s lifelong friend and soulmate.

Happy reading!
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Thank you for the guest post and the recommendations, EWein! I am mighty curious about this Gen-in-Ancient-Greece character that you speak of. I suspect several Sounisians have already read Elizabeth Wein’s novels. If you haven’t picked them up, what are you waiting for? Are there any other characters out there that remind you of our favorite Thief? I know Tiegirl from Sounis calls Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan as Gen-in-Space.


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Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by R.J. Anderson

I first found out about R.J. Anderson not through her books but through Sounis. Obviously, I know that she’s a fan of the Queen’s Thief series because she’s a fellow Sounisian. She’s the author of middle grade faery novels (Knife, Rebel and Arrow in the UK; Spellhunter and Wayfarer in the US) and the YA paranormal thriller Ultraviolet. I thoroughly enjoyed reading both Knife and Ultraviolet (full of unpredictable plot twists!) and I look forward to reading more of her work. Megan Whalen Turner wrote a blurb for her first book: “SPELLHUNTER has the charm of Mary Norton’s THE BORROWERS and the edge of Holly Black’s TITHE.” R.J. is here today to share how she fell in love with the series.

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HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE QUEEN’S THIEF SERIES (AND WHY)

Since I first heard my Dad reading the Narnia books out loud to my older brothers when I was three or four, I’ve been in love with fantasy. As a kid I plundered our local library branch for every book of fairy tales I could get my hands on — and when I ran out of those, I started reading mythology, particularly Greek and Roman mythology. Then I moved on to the great works of modern “juvenile” fantasy like Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books and Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, and by the time I was twelve I was reading adult fantasy authors like Stephen R. Donaldson and Patricia McKillip as well.

But after reading fantasy almost exclusively for years on end, I found that one fantasy novel tended to blend into another. There were plots and settings and character types that got used over and over, and after a while I felt as though I’d seen everything. So when an online acquaintance told me that I ought to read a book called THE THIEF by an author named Megan Whalen Turner, I could already guess what that particular story would be like. Presumably it would feature a street urchin with nimble fingers living in a vaguely medieval, pseudo-European setting full of castles and dragons and wizards, and said thief would make a powerful enemy and be caught up in some fearsome adventure, but in the end he would triumph and end up pardoned of all his crimes. Which could still be a fun story if it was well enough written, but I wasn’t in a hurry to run out and get it. After all, how outstanding could another fantasy novel about a thief really be?

And yet my acquaintance had insisted that the book was unusually good, so when I spotted THE THIEF in my local library a few months later I decided to swallow my cynicism and check it out. And, figuring that if I liked the first book I would want to read the second, I picked up THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA as well.

What I found in THE THIEF surprised me. It wasn’t some quasi-European fantasy realm, it had a Mediterranean flavour instead. And wait, had somebody mentioned pocket watches? Which meant it wasn’t medieval, either. I was further taken aback by the myths and legends scattered throughout the story, which felt so authentic that I half wondered if I’d read them once in a book of Greek mythology and forgotten them. In the end I almost resented THE THIEF for being so unlike my jaded expectations, even as I raced through it to find out what that cheeky boy Gen was up to and whether he’d survive the ultimate test.

I didn’t love THE THIEF. I admired it, I thought it was well written and richly detailed and clever, but I wasn’t quite seeing what had made my acquaintance so enthusiastic about the books. However, I had THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA right there, so I decided to carry on and see if the next volume might be a little more to my taste…

And oh boy, was it ever. I was wholly unprepared for the ruthless turn of events early in the novel, but as soon as you know what happened I was sold. An author with the courage to do such a radical, life-altering thing to her hero might be capable of anything. After that every chapter pulled me deeper into Gen and Irene’s story, until… well. Let’s just say that when a certain growing suspicion I’d had in the back of my mind was confirmed, I let out a whoop and waved the book in the air. There was no more distance between me and Ms. Turner’s characters any more. I was hooked, addicted, and I couldn’t get enough. I raced down to the library and checked out THE KING OF ATTOLIA.

And once again, I had no idea what I was getting into. QUEEN had engaged my emotions, but KING challenged me on a whole new level. The sheer complexity of the story, the sophistication of the politics and the interpersonal relationships, the cleverness of having the book told by a narrator who barely knows Gen and manifestly doesn’t like him, and yet manages to be a sympathetic character himself — I was awed by Ms. Turner’s skills as a storyteller. But even better than that, in the course of the novel I recognized a quality I’d carelessly overlooked in the previous books: that Gen’s story wasn’t just one of cleverness and determination and skill, but also a journey of faith.

I’d read lots of fantasy novels that included religion in some form or another, but few of them rang so true to me as the interactions between the gods and the characters in Ms. Turner’s books. Even though the religion in Gen’s world bears little or no resemblance to my own Christianity, a great deal of what her characters had to say about their dealings with the gods had a powerful resonance for me. Things like Gen praying in his desperation, “O my god, if you will not save me, make me less afraid,” and Eddis’s line, “If I am the pawn of the gods, it is because they know me so well, not because they make up my mind for me.” I found myself murmuring as I read those lines, “Yes. Yes, exactly.”

By the time I’d finished THE KING OF ATTOLIA I was firmly convinced that Megan Whalen Turner was a genius. I didn’t know if she could top the staggering narrative feat she’d pulled off in that third volume, but I was looking forward to A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS very much. Though when I found out it was about Sophos — that blushing, stammering young noble who seemed to be a fan favourite but who hadn’t made all that strong an impression on me — I wondered if I’d love the book quite as much as I’d hoped.

But when I finally read it, I was won over completely. I learned to love Sophos within the first few chapters, and by the middle I was completely on his side — even to the point of being a bit annoyed with Gen on his behalf. And that twist — those twists! Megan Whalen Turner had done it again.

So basically, I have turned into a shameless fangirl of the Queen’s Thief books. I’ve read the whole series out loud to my eleven year-old son, who enjoyed them almost as much as I did. I gave the books as a Christmas gift to my teenaged niece, only to have her mother pick them up and become an avid fan of the series herself. And whenever I meet someone who loves fantasy and is looking for recommendations, the first thing I ask them is, “Have you read Megan Whalen Turner? Because if you haven’t, you totally should.”

I hear there are going to be six books in the series. I hope it’s true. But part of me hopes that’s just the beginning, because I want Gen and the Magus and Irene and Eddis and Costis and Sophos to live in my mind and heart and imagination forever.
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Thank you, R.J.! I love that you quoted “If I am the pawn of the gods…” because that’s one of my favorite lines in the series as well. Yes to everything that R.J. said in her post (I know I keep saying that about all the Queen’s Thief Week guest posts but it’s true).


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Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Ana of The Book Smugglers

I was already following The Book Smugglers even before I started my own blog. I kind of feel like I don’t need to talk about Ana and Thea anymore because they are Big and Famous Book Bloggers but I just want to say that I love their reviews and I’ve gotten a lot of excellent recommendations from both of them. I love how tireless, enthusiastic and passionate they are when it comes to their blog. Ana is a huge fan of the Queen’s Thief series and I immediately thought of inviting her while I was planning this blog event. She has a spoiler-free review of the first three books here (Megan Whalen Turner linked to Ana’s review in her website). Welcome to Queen’s Thief Week, Ana!

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Why I Adore The Queen’s Thief Series

I remember when I first picked up The Thief to read. It was back in 2009, in the middle of our first YA Appreciation Month and I bought it because Angie was so enthusiastic about it (and I have come to learn over the years that when Angie truly loves something, chances are, I will too). I read it, loved it and then went out and bought the next two books in the series. I was a goner then. Soon after, I managed to sit down to write my thoughts about it. The result was basically a love letter to the series. Back then, I wrote that the main reason why I loved these books was its main character Eugenides and how awesome he is.

I was wrong though. Having had more time to think about it, I realised over the years (and after reading A Conspiracy of Kings) that even though Eugenides is one of my favourite characters of all time, he is not really the main reason why I love the series so much.

No, I love this series so much because they are incredibly, unbelievably clever.

I think everybody knows by now about the infamous twists in the series. Yes, there are many, and they are great and I never saw them coming. One could certainly say that the surprising twists are way clever. But a whole series can not solely rely on its twists – there’s gotta be more to it, right?

Right.

Take for example the basic fact that these books are about politics. The destiny of three countries are at stake, war is brewing in the horizon, there are outside forces closing in and most of the story is about trying to figure out ways of applying diplomacy to the proceedings. The thing is: this could all have been so boring but it never is. Because in the midst of all that, there are the people we come to care deeply about. All characters – Queens and Kings and Soldiers; Eugenides, Sounis, Attolis, Eddis, Costis are so well-written, their stories so interesting with each of them having a developing arc. So, as the fate of nations are being decided, we also have people growing up, growing apart or close; alliances being formed in unpredictable ways, adventures being held and kisses being shared.

(You will have to excuse me because I am about to go on a tangent here. OMG, the kisses being shared – you know, I could have written an entire post just about the romance in the series. It is the sort of romance I have come to love and appreciate. The kind that is subtle and unexpected but right in many ways: because the subtlety only reinforces awesomeness; because it is about the right dynamics, the right signs; it is about respect and appreciation for each other and about growth. SO swoon-worthy)

Ultimately though, I believe that what makes these books so clever is the way they are written because each book, surprisingly, has a different narrative choice or voice.

The Thief is written in first person, narrated by Eugenides (and he is such an unreliable narrator); The Queen of Attolia shifts to third person with Gen’s, the Queen of Eddis’ and the Queen of Attolia’s PoV; The King of Attolia is narrated by an entirely new character and A Conspiracy of Kings is half told in first person by a character called Sophos (introduced in the first book) and half in third person by an overseeing narrator.

I love that Megan Whalen Turner took these chances because it works so well with the story she is telling. I feel that the point of view HAD to change from book to book and they are extremely efficient in providing the reader with the right reading experience each time. They signal the growth of each character and the different type of story each book tells. In the first book, Eugenides basically tricks us. The second book is about establishing a rapport between everybody in the story and between the reader and Eugenides. But in the third book, we become Eugenides accomplices – we already know what to expect from him and it is great fun to see the narrator of that story having no clue what to expect. Then the author takes everything one step further and in a A Conspiracy of Kings, Eugenides is seemingly removed from the equation and we see yet another side of him.

In the end, you put all of this together and what you have is a series about politics that is astonishingly smart and cool, without ever been dull. It features characters that shine including strong, well-developed female characters AND with awesome romantic storylines to boot. What’s not to love? I recommend this series to everybody I know because it works in so many levels I suspect most readers will find at least one thing to love about it.

Thank you Chachic, for inviting me to take part on this more than worthy celebration and for giving me the opportunity to remember once again how awesome these books are.
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Thank you, Ana! I kept nodding to myself while reading this post because I agree with everything that Ana said – I think we all know by now how clever Megan Whalen Turner’s writing is.


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Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Sarah Rees Brennan

Sarah Rees Brennan is the author of the Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, which is an urban fantasy series about demons, magic and two brothers – Nick and Alan. She has two books due to be released this year – Team Human (co-authored with Justine Larbalestier) and Unspoken – and I’m really looking forward to reading both. I follow Sarah on her blog, Twitter and Tumblr and she’s hilarious in all of those venues. She’s been very vocal about her love of the Queen’s Thief series and I was delighted when she graciously agreed to do a guest post, in spite of her busy schedule.

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THE QUEEN’S THIEF, SARAH AND BOOKPUSHING

I found the Queen’s Thief series the same way I know a lot of us find the best books: a friend recommended them to me. Specifically, my friend Holly Black.

I was twenty-three and an Irish chickadee living in England, doing a Master’s and working as a library assistant. The year before that, I’d been living in New York and working as a publishing intern, and Holly was one of many kind Americans who snatched me out of traffic and explained things like ‘We call spaghetti hoops spaghetti-Os here.’

Naturally my faith in her is implicit! So she said to me ‘You love a twisty book. You love The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. You will love Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief.’

Well, it was easy to get it! It was in the library where I worked. I picked it up off the shelf, put it in my bag, walked home and sat down on my little blue sofa, where I opened it.

A couple of hours later, I looked up from the last page of the book.

My tea was very cold. Outside the windows it was dark. Neither of those things seemed to matter very much. I gave some deep thought to what I wanted from life.

What I wanted from life was immediately to read the book again, checking from the start and at every turn that Megan Whalen Turner really had laid it out there carefully and cleverly, that I had not been cheated but had been wonderfully surprised.

So I switched on the light, and did not move from the sofa until I had read the whole thing again. It was a lovely evening. I promptly asked my loving parents for Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia for Christmas.

My love has been true ever since that day: it has only grown, since my favourite of the series (so far) is The King of Attolia. (Love, baby! And tricks with narrators. AND LOVE, ONE OF THE GREATEST FICTIONAL ROMANCES OF OUR TIME.)

I was actually on tour with Holly Black for her White Cat and my Demon’s Covenant where at a school appearance we were doing, we met a lovely girl who was a huge Megan Whalen Turner fan… we’d both acquired an advance copy of Conspiracy of Kings via nefarious means. (Okay, maybe Holly’s means weren’t nefarious, I don’t know. MINE WERE.)

LOVELY LADY: And of course the end of Conspiracy of Kings is different than in the advance copy…
HOLLY & SARAH: What! Where! WHAT! IS IT? WHERE’S THE NEAREST BOOKSHOP?

My roommate in Ireland has read chiefly what I gave her since we met in college, and one day she unwisely mentioned she wished there were more books like Harry Potter. I listened to her with a blank expression that I was later informed was slightly terrifying, and the next day brought in a pile of books by Diana Wynne Jones and murmured ‘These are better.’ ‘What, what are you doing?’ she asked. ‘Read them,’ I said, my voice still low and fervent and scary. ‘Read them…’

She resisted the Queen’s Thief series. ‘These look like high fantasy,’ she said, rebelliously. ‘Oh, they are,’ I said. ‘Gods and so forth. Greek mythology rather than English folklore stuff. Read them…’

It took me a few years to bring her around. Then she read The Thief. I was away for the weekend.

When I came back, she owned her own copies of Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia. ‘You weren’t here,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t find them! I had to do something! They’re SO GOOD!’

So we have two sets of Megan Whalen Turner books at our house. I feel this is for the best.

The moral of my story? Friends don’t let friends not read Megan Whalen Turner books.
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Thank you, Sarah! Love the moral of your story. I’m sure you’ve managed to convince more readers to read the books. Queen’s Thief Week’s Thursday is all about spreading the word about the series – first with Angie’s bibliovangelizing and now Sarah with this post. Feel free to share your own book pushing stories related to Megan Whalen Turner’s books.


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Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Angie of Angieville

My friend Angie of Angieville is one heck of a book pusher. I can’t even count the number of books that I picked up because of her, most of which have become my own favorites. Seriously, when Angie recommends a book, I feel the urge to get a copy as soon as I could. Try reading one of her reviews and you’d see what I mean (read her reviews of the series: The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings). She’s one of the biggest fans of the Queen’s Thief novels so obviously, I had to ask her to do a guest post. Give it up for Angie!

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It has been almost exactly three years to the day since I first made the acquaintance of this incredible series. And since The Thief was originally published in 1996, that means I was a latecomer to the party. The truth is I had absolutely no excuse for myself, especially given the fact that a dedicated friend spent the better part of several years trying to get me to read them. She even sent me my first copies. I say “first” because I have since purchased so many copies I’ve literally lost count. The majority of them have gone on to good homes, but I have reserved two copies of each book for myself and my shelves. That way I always have one copy on hand to lend and one on the shelf for when the mood strikes. That’s right. This is one of those series. The ones you never want to be without for any length of time. But, in my defense, I can honestly say I have spent every day of the last three years trying to make up for my lateness by getting other people to read them, too. I call this activity bibliovangelizing.

I engage in a little bibliovangelizing when I run across a book and/or series that, well, it takes over my life. It takes over my life so completely that I can’t stop thinking about it. The feeling builds until I become convinced I’ll spontaneously combust if I don’t share it with someone else. Before I know it, I’ve gone into full recruiting mode, hustling friends and family, blog readers, and anyone else I can reach. In the case of this series, I can pretty much guarantee that if you’re a member of my family or close friend with the ability to read, I’ve personally handed you these books. If you are my husband, you had each book read aloud to you. On the virtual front, I went back through the archives and tallied up the number of posts I’ve done on this series alone since I first discovered it. It looks like so far I’ve written an average of 12 posts per year on my blog. That doesn’t count guest posts (such as this one) or impassioned babbling on every other social media forum I currently exploit frequent. And I can’t tell you how fun it’s been watching others read and fall in love with this thief and his story.

Why should I read them, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you why. Basically, the Queen’s Thief series is the Johnny Cash of YA fantasy. You don’t like country music? You still like Johnny Cash. Not because he’s good country but because he’s good. You don’t like fantasy or YA? You’ll still like the Queen’s Thief series. Not because it’s good fantasy YA but because it’s good. So good it transcends genre. It strikes that oh-so-rare, perfect combination of sophisticated and wildly entertaining. To enjoy these books all you need is a pulse and a love for story. Megan Whalen Turner and the incorrigible Gen will take care of the rest. So if you’ve read these wonderful books, please do send me a message or leave a comment, so we can indulge in a good old fashioned squee. And if you haven’t read them yet, I’ll refrain from shooting you the beady eye of death and merely say, I’ve got just what the doctor ordered:

Take two and call me in the morning.

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Thank you, Angie! Be blessed in your endeavors, especially when it comes to bibliovangelizing. :) Care to share stories of how you all managed to convince more readers to read the series? Like Angie, I also have a spare set of the first three books (which are signed!) and I have a set that friends can borrow. I’ve also given these books as gifts several times and plan to do that again in the future.

Queen’s Thief Week roundup of posts:
- Melissa entices readers with reasons to read the series over at One Librarian’s Book Reviews
- Brandy talks about her favorite character (Attolia) over at Random Musings of a Bibliophile
- Maureen discusses the myths in The Thief over at By Singing Light


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Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Megan Whalen Turner

Do I still need to put up an introduction here? Okay, maybe I can just say that I literally jumped up and down when MWT actually replied after I asked her if she’d be willing to participate in Queen’s Thief Week. What could be better than a post from the author herself? :D Please welcome the brilliantly amazing MEGAN WHALEN TURNER!

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The Evolution of Not-Telling.

Or, how my policy of not answering questions about my books began as self-serving and over time became something even more self-serving.

When I first started to receive letters in the mail (this was before everyone had an e-mail address, I know, Dark Ages) the writers often asked questions I was reluctant to answer. I had a vague idea that readers should have room to make a book their own, and see what they wanted to see in it, and I was leery of giving too many details about my world when I knew some of those details might change. When a story is inside my head, a character can have fourteen brothers or none at all. When I write it down, I have to pick one version and then stick with it forever, so I try to put those decisions off as long as I possibly can. (Trying to settle on Irene’s hair color was painful.)

That’s how not-telling began. I explained that I’d left Gen’s age vague on purpose. Readers could pick any age for him that they liked, and maybe they would change their idea as the story went forward, but if they wanted, they could always ignore the details in the story that they didn’t like and Gen could be any age at all. I said that it felt like cheating, to me, to try to add an explanation to something I’ve already written. I got my chance to write what I wanted to write. If I didn’t do it well enough for my readers to understand what I was trying to say, it’s not fair for me to try to take a second shot. When it comes to talking about what I am writing next, I told people that I think it’s teasing to drop hints about a book… for five years at a time. If I wrote books a little faster, I might be a little more willing to talk about what’s in them ahead of time. But I don’t, so I won’t. (Although, I will try to write faster, I promise, I promise.)

And then, the most wonderful thing happened. The internet arrived. There were reviews to read on Amazon, and at Barnes and Noble and at Readerville and then at Goodreads. With a little help from Google I could find all fourteen people who had read my book and see what they were saying about it. Someone founded a LiveJournal community just to discuss the series and Rowena was the first friendly neighborhood despot moderator. As I watched these clever, funny, thoughtful readers ask each other questions about the stories and sort out what they thought the answers might be… I thought to myself, “Boy, I am never telling these people anything.”

I would have liked to join the community right from the beginning, and I am always tempted when I am lurking to stick my oar in, but I still worry about authors getting in the way of readers. I never have joined. I comment from time to time, so Sounis will know I am around, reading, but I try not to be intrusive. I want people to think for themselves because I like thinking for myself. (I butted heads with an English teacher once when he tried to tell me that the ghost in a short story was just a hallucination. He had a lot of textual evidence. I didn’t care. It was still a ghost for me.) I would never want a discussion to stop because someone, somewhere, found what I said was the “right” answer.

And my reward for keeping my mouth shut?

Honestly, there is nothing so great as crafting a scene–going back and forth about whether a detail is too small or too obvious, worrying will anyone notice? Will they read it and go, duh? Should I just quit and take up knitting? And then watching as a reader lays out everything she thought about that scene and reveals that she thought everything I could have hoped she would. It’s the bomb. It really is. And I am never telling you guys anything.
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Here’s Not-Telling the lion, MWT’s Mythopoeic Fantasy Award:

Thank you, MWT, for that lovely post! It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.” Fellow fans, care to squee and fangirl with me?


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Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Holly of Book Harbinger

My good friend Holly is the blogger behind Book Harbinger. I love Holly’s blog because her reviews are consistently well-written and we share similar tastes in books. Whenever she recommends a book, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up liking it. We both read the Queen’s Thief books before we started our respective blogs but that doesn’t stop us from gushing about the series from time to time (read her reviews of MWT’s books here). Today is all about Eugenides so let’s see what Holly has to say about our favorite Thief.
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Happy Queen’s Thief Week! I’m thrilled to be here. Like Chachic, Megan Whelan Turner’s series is one of my favorites of all time and I’m more than happy to sing its praises anytime, anywhere. As I thought of what I’d like to post about, my first thought went to the characters. There’s not a one-dimensional one among them, and while you may not love all the secondary characters (especially the Mede), you’ll be hard-pressed to find any reader who dislikes Eugenides, the thief and MC himself. So in honor of Gen and my geeky interest in words and dictionaries, I’ve used an acrostic to describe his character. Hard-core fans and newcomers alike are bound to fall in love with him in part and in spite of these qualities. Gen is…

E – Enigmatic
U – Unlikely, unreliable, unexpected, and an underdog.
G – Genius, greasy (at first), and guise-ful.
E – Ever-surprising
N – Nonchalant (in truth and in deceit)
I – Ingenuous, indefinable, irrepressible, inestimable, and immense.
D – Daring, disobedient, despairing (with reason), defying, and mockingly debonair.
E – An Everyman
S – Short, self-deprecating, snarky, stealthy, (beyond) smart, subtle, and a survivor.

He sounds amazing, right? If you haven’t read the series yet, maybe this is a push in the right direction, and if not, well, we Gen fangirls are always looking for another excuse to gush. ;)

Are there any I missed? The three Es were tricky as you can see and I’m sure there are a lot more words starting with the prefix non- for the letter N. As Gen is one of my most beloved characters (really, I’m not biased at all), there are infinite adjectives to describe him.

Thanks for having me, Chachic! I look forward to the rest of the week.
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Thank you, Holly! Such a clever post. What about the rest of you, what other adjectives can you think of that describes Gen? Can you come up with an acrostic for the other characters in the series? Share them in the comments! Also, drop by and check the other posts included in the roundup below. There’s also an international giveaway that you can join if you’re interested in winning a book.

Queen’s Thief Week roundup of posts:
Fan fiction over at booksrgood4u’s blog
Fan fiction over at genndme’s blog
Maureen has a post about the myths in the series over at By Singing Light
April reviews The Queen of Attolia over at Good Books and Good Wine
Heidi reviews the Thief! short story over at Bunbury in the Stacks
Tina reviews A Conspiracy of Kings over at One More Page

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