The Thief tells the story of Gen a thief who bragged he could steal anything. Unfortunately the only thing his boasting gets him is thrown in the king's prison. Then the king's magus approaches Gen with an offer - the chance to steal a hidden treasure, to commit an impossible crime. Gen knows that this is only a temporary reprieve, but he is a thief with plans of his own.
I wasn't sure about this. I'd read quite a few reviews (all positive) but I didn't know if it would be my sort of thing. I needn't have worried because I loved the story.
I don't think I've read that many unreliable narrator stories. Most of the heroes and heroines I read are pretty straightforward, no-nonsense characters, so The Thief made a refreshing change. I liked that Megan Whalen Turner was able to get us onto Gen's side even though we aren't completely aware of his motives.
Whether or not you like this book will depend (I think) on whether or not you like the character of Gen. He's a boy who thinks very quickly on his feet, and he's got a very smart mouth.
"I pointed out that he'd been no help at the ford. He pointed out that I had climbed a tree. I pointed out that I had no sword. He offered to give me his, point first."He makes very cutting and snarky observations about his travelling companions, even when he should perhaps keep his own counsel.
At one point I muttered, "You learn something new every day."We learn about the history and myths of the world as the magus quizzes Sophos and Ambiades (apprentices to the magus and christened Useless the Younger and Useless the Elder by Gen) during the course of the journey. It's worth trying to see the story through Gen's eyes, rather than just reading it. His observations give you important clues to the truth of what's going on, though you often don't realize that until further into the story.
"What are you learning?" Sophos asked.
"To keep my mouth shut, I hope."
Perhaps what I most enjoyed was the relationships that Gen builds with his would-be captors - the magus, Sophos, and Pol the soldier who guards him. Gen is something of an unremitting brat, but you understand his position, he's a prisoner, he's not there to make life easy for everyone else. However, you sometimes make friends and build relationships despite the circumstances you find yourself in.
This is a book you could read over and over again, each time getting something different from the story. I am very much looking forward to reading the next books in the trilogy.