I thought I’d start this recommending thing with the awesomeness that is Megan Whalen Turner (MWT). MWT’s Queen’s Thief series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia) is one of my favorite series of all time. If I was stuck in one of the tropical islands of the Philippines with no hope of rescue for a considerable amount of time, I’d want to have these books with me.
The most powerful advisor to the King of Sounis is the magus. He’s not a wizard, he’s a scholar, an aging solider, not a thief. When he needs something stolen, he pulls a young thief from the King’s prison to do the job for him. Gen is a thief and proud of it. When his bragging lands him behind bars he has one chance to win his freedom – journey to a neighboring kingdom with the magus, find a legendary stone called Hamiathes’s Gift and steal it.
Simple really, except for the mountains in between, the temple under water, and the fact that no one has ever gone hunting Hamiathes’s Gift and returned alive.
The magus has plans for his King and his country. Gen has plans of his own.
I first read The Thief when I was 12-years old or so, back when I was collecting all the Newbery books that I could get my hands on. For some reason, the story didn’t stick with me. My favorites back then were The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I became re-acquianted with MWT’s books when I read her interview with Shannon Hale. This was in 2007, when I started to realize that I’m more into fantasy than any other genre (although the Queen’s Thief series is more historical fiction than fantasy, more on that later). I checked out the bookstore and was delighted to find out that the books are available here and they have such beautiful covers too.
So I bought the books then I read The Thief, I liked it but didn’t fall in love with it. To go back to what I said earlier about this series being more historical fiction than fantasy, I think it is fantasy because it is set in a made-up world reminiscent of ancient Greece. This world doesn’t have a lot of magic and the magic that does exist comes from the gods, similar to the gods in Greek mythology.
The first book is narrated by Eugenides (Gen for short), the main character of the story who gets drafted by the magus of Sounis to steal a legendary stone that no one has ever seen. Gen is a whiny brat but extremely clever and funny. He narrates their adventure as they travel across three neighboring kingdoms – Sounis, Eddis and Attolia. I liked the character development in this book because you get to know the minor characters even though you only see glimpses of them. As said earlier, I had already read the book when I was younger but for the life of me, couldn’t remember the story. Even though I wasn’t enamored of The Thief, it was still a good read.
Then I read The Queen of Attolia and was blown away. There were so many unexpected developments in that book. And it had more political intrigue and a more mature tone than The Thief.
Here’s an excerpt of the summary of The Queen of Attolia from MWT’s website:
The strong-willed queens of Attolia and Eddis maneuver for power and to protect their lands in this fast-paced sequel to the stellar Newbery Honor Book The Thief. Scheming, spying, thieving, and fighting fill the pages of this cleverly plotted, enjoyable tale.
I didn’t put in the whole summary to avoid spoilers (don’t click the link if you haven’t read The Thief). I also couldn’t say more about the plot because I’m trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible. Anyway, in this book we see Gen grow as a person and develop his skills, not just as a thief but also as a spy. But this book is not just about Gen, it’s also about the three countries – Sounis, Eddis and Attolia (although more of the latter two) and how the gods affect these nations. One of my favorite quotes from the series is this:
“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.” – Queen of Eddis
Suffice it to say that I was really amazed with The Queen of Attolia and I didn’t want to read the next book because I wanted the story to sink in first. And I thought the next book will probably not live up to this one. But I was wrong! The King of Attolia is as good as, if not better than, The Queen of Attolia. Again, I can’t say much about this book but it starts where The Queen of Attolia left off. Note that I didn’t put a summary. I’d advise others not to read blurbs found in other sites or other reviews because they may contain spoilers.
This series also has romance (I’m a sucker for those!) but a very subtle kind of love story. One that is unexpected and will take you by surprise. I think one of the reasons why I love this series is because of that romance.
I cannot say it enough – THIS SERIES IS BRILLIANT! Absolutely brilliant. After reading the series, I had a book hangover. You know that feeling that you get when you get hooked to a book and you feel like you left your mind behind in that world? It’s like that. I remember the time when I just finished reading the series, I had that hangover and I wanted to talk to someone about this awesome series but couldn’t find anyone else who’ve read the books. So I searched online and found an LJ community as crazy in love with the series as I am: Sounis. I love this community! People have so much fun just discussing the books down to the smallest details. And I’ve gotten a lot of great book recommendations from this community as well. I was lucky enough to meet up a couple of Sounis in SoCal when I was there last year. If there are any other QT fans in Manila, let me know! Maybe we can do a Manila meet up.
So that’s it, one of my favorite series of all time – Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen Thief series: The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. The fourth book, A Conspiracy of Kings is coming out this March 23, 2010. I can’t wait!
Here’s a nifty book trailer created by Greenwillow (the publisher of the series) for The Thief:
Other book details:
Availability – these books used to be available in some National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Fully Booked branches. Nowadays, only Fully Booked has copies of all three and some Powerbooks branches have copies of The Thief.
Price – P252 each for both The Thief and The Queen of Attolia in Fully Booked and P360 for The King of Attolia
You can get signed copies of the books from Mysterious Galaxy.