The Thief is written by Megan Whalen Turner. It was published in 1996 by Greenwillow.
The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities. What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
The Thief does a first-person point of view similar to Jennifer Nielsen’s The False Prince (vice versa, really, since The Thief came first), and when I realized it, I was excited because I loved the limited first-person view that Nielsen did in The False Prince. And The Thief one-ups The False Prince by including gorgeous Greek mythology in a fantasy world that is just one step removed from the actual one.
Turner gives you just enough hints to realize that Gen is not all that he says he is, but not enough to make you frustrated at all the secrecy. And the twists that occur that don’t include Gen I never saw coming, but once they arrived I realized how they had been foreshadowed earlier on. I absolutely adore books that are so well-crafted that each time you read it you discover something new, and all the praise I’ve seen on other book blogs is deserving (not that I was really doubting).
I don’t know why, but I love how the magus was always called “the magus” and never named, not even at the end where you might expect him to be.
Also, when I read the summary and opened the book, I literally said out loud, “Wait, I thought this was about a girl!” (Don’t ask me how I came to that conclusion. I don’t know.) And then half the book I expected Gen to be a girl in disguise. Nope.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Some small swordfighting violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“What had happened to the stone?” asked Sophos.
“It had been hidden by the king of Eddis, and he died without passing it to his son and without revealing its hiding place. It has remained hidden ever since.”
“Do you think it could ever be found?” Sophos asked.
The magus nodded. There was a short silence.
“You think you can find it?” asked Ambiades, his face pinched with eagerness and probably greed, I thought.
The magus nodded.
“Do you mean,” I squawked, “that we are out here in the dark looking for something from a fairy tale?”