The Thief (The Queen's Thief Series #1)

The Thief (The Queen's Thief Series #1)

by Megan Whalen Turner

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The Thief (The Queen's Thief Series #1) by Megan Whalen Turner

Discover the world of the Queen’s Thief

New York Times-bestselling author Megan Whalen Turner’s entrancing and award-winning Queen’s Thief novels bring to life the world of the epics and feature one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations and intrigue, battles lost and won, dangerous journeys, divine intervention, power, passion, revenge, and deception. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Patrick Rothfuss, and George R. R. Martin.

Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything—or so he says. When his boasting lands him in prison and the king’s magus invites him on a quest to steal a legendary object, he’s in no position to refuse. The magus thinks he has the right tool for the job, but Gen has plans of his own. The Queen’s Thief novels have been praised by writers, critics, reviewers, and fans, and have been honored with glowing reviews, “best of” citations, and numerous awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Newbery Honor, the Andre Norton Award shortlist, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Discover and rediscover the stand-alone companions, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings, all epic novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief.

This edition of The Thief includes an exclusive piece by Megan Whalen Turner about her inspiration for the setting of the story, an introduction to the characters from the world of the Queen's Thief, and a map of the world of the Queen's Thief.  

A Newbery Honor Book

An ALA Notable Book

A YALSA Best Book for Young Adults
A Horn Book Fanfare Book
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
A Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Book
A Junior Library Guild Selection

“The Queen’s Thief books awe and inspire me. They have the feel of a secret, discovered history of real but forgotten lands. The plot-craft is peerless, the revelations stunning, and the characters flawed, cunning, heartbreaking, exceptional. Megan Whalen Turner’s books have a permanent spot on my favorites shelf, with space waiting for more books to come.”—Laini Taylor, New York Times-bestselling author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone novels and Strange the Dreamer

"Unforgettable characters, plot twists that will make your head spin, a world rendered in elegant detail—you will fall in love with every page of these stories. Megan Whalen Turner writes vivid, immersive, heartbreaking fantasy that will leave you desperate to return to Attolia again and again.”—Leigh Bardugo, New York Times-bestselling author of the The Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows

“Trust me. Just read it. Then read it again, because it will not be the same river twice.”—Lois McMaster Bujold, acclaimed and Hugo Award-winning author of the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion Series, and the Sharing Knife series

"In addition to its charismatic hero, this story possesses one of the most valuable treasures of all—a twinkling jewel of a surprise ending." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“To miss this thief’s story would be a crime.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“A literary journey that enriches both its characters and readers before it is over.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A tantalizing, suspenseful, exceptionally clever novel.”—The Horn Book (starred review)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061968525
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/22/2009
Series: Queen's Thief Series , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 52,217
Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

New York Times–bestselling author Megan Whalen Turner is the award-winning author of six novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief. These epic novels of intrigue and adventure can be read in any order, but were published as follows: The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick as Thieves, and Return of the Thief. Megan Whalen Turner has been awarded a Newbery Honor and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature. She has won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature and was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award. She worked as a bookseller for seven years before she started writing. Her first book was a collection of short stories called Instead of Three Wishes.

Read an Excerpt

The Thief

Chapter One

I Didn't Know How Long I had been in the king's prison. The days were all the same, except that as each one passed, I was dirtier than before. Every morning the light in the cell changed from the wavering orange of the lamp in the sconce outside my door to the dim but even glow of the sun falling into the prison's central courtyard. In the evening, as the sunlight faded, I reassured myself that I was one day closer to getting out. To pass time, I concentrated on pleasant memories, laying them out in order and examining them carefully. I reviewed over and over the plans that had seemed so straightforward before I arrived in jail, and I swore to myself and every god I knew that if I got out alive, I would never never never take any risks that were so abysmally stupid again.

I was thinner than I had been when I was first arrested. The large iron ring around my waist had grown loose, but not loose enough to fit over the bones of my hips. Few prisoners wore chains in their cells, only those that the king particularly disliked: counts or dukes or the minister of the exchequer when he told the king there wasn't any more money to spend. I was certainly none of those things, but I suppose it's safe to say that the king disliked me. Even if he didn't remember my name or whether I was as common as dirt, he didn't want me slipping away. So I had chains on my ankles as well as the iron belt around my waist and an entirely useless set of chains locked around my wrists. At first I pulled the cuffs off my wrists, but since I sometimes had to force them back on quickly, my wrists started to be rubbed raw.After a while it was less painful just to leave the manacles on. To take my mind off my daydreams, I practiced moving around the cell without clanking.

I had enough chain to allow me to pace in an arc from a front corner of the cell out to the center of the room and back to the rear comer. My bed was there at the back, a bench made of stone with a thin bag of sawdust on top. Beside it was the chamber pot. There was nothing else in the cell except myself and the chain and, twice a day, food.

The cell door was a gate of bars. The guards looked in at me as they passed on their rounds, a tribute to my reputation. As part of my plans for greatness, I had bragged without shame about my skills in every wine store in the city. I had wanted everyone to know that I was the finest thief since mortal men were made, and I must have come close to accomplishing the goal. Huge crowds had gathered for my trial. Most of the guards in the prison had turned out to see me after my arrest, and I was endlessly chained to my bed when other prisoners were sometimes allowed the freedom and sunshine of the prison's courtyard.

There was one guard who always seemed to catch me with my head in my hands, and he always laughed.

"What?" he would say. "Haven't you escaped yet?"

Every time he laughed, I spat insults at him. It was not politic, but as always, I couldn't keep an insult in when it wanted to come out. Whatever I said, the guard laughed more.

I ached with cold. It had been early in the spring when I'd been arrested and dragged out of the Shade Oak Wineshop. Outside the prison walls the summer's heat must have dried out the city and driven everyone indoors for afternoon naps, but the prison cells got no direct sun, and they were as damp and cold as when I had first arrived. I spent hours dreaming of the sunshine, the way it soaked into the city walls and made the yellow stones hot to lean on hours after the day had ended, the way it dried out water spills and the rare libations to the gods still occasionally poured into the dust outside the wineshops.

Sometimes I moved as far as my chains would let me and looked through the bars of my cell door and across the deep gallery that shaded the prison cells at the sunlight falling into the courtyard. The prison was two stories of cells stacked one on top of the other; I was in the upper level. Each cell opened onto the gallery, and the gallery was separated from the courtyard by stone pillars. There were no windows in the outside walls, which were three or four feet thick, built of massive stones that ten men together couldn't have shifted. Legends said that the old gods had stacked them together in a day.

The prison was visible from almost anywhere in the city because the city was built on a hill and the prison was at the summit. The only other building there was the king's home, his megaron. There had also been a temple to the old gods once, but it had been destroyed, and the basilica to the new gods was built farther down the hill. Once the king's home had been a true megaron, one room, with a throne and a hearth, and the prison had been the agora, where citizens met and merchants hawked their jumble. The individual cells had been stalls of clothes or wine or candles or jewelry imported from the islands. Prominent citizens used to stand on the stone blocks in the courtyard to make speeches.

Then the invaders had come with their longboats and their own ideas of commerce; they did their trading in open markets next to their ships. They had taken over the king's megaron for their governor and used the solid stone building of the agora as a prison. Prominent citizens ended up chained to the blocks, instead of standing on them.

The Thief. Copyright (c) by Megan Turner . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Thief (The Queen's Thief Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 278 reviews.
Angieville More than 1 year ago
This book has been sitting on my shelf for several (we won't go into how many exactly) years. I even *gasp* had both sequels sitting on the shelf next to it. And in the interest of full disclosure, I even started THE THIEF a couple of years ago, got 25 pages in, and stopped. For reasons I no longer recall. The fault, whatever it was, was clearly mine because this book is the beginning of something truly special. I completely understand why it won the Newbery Honor and am very glad it did. Gen is a thief, and a rather boastful one at that. Claiming he can steal anything, Gen succeeds in making off with the King of Sounis' seal only to brag about it to the wrong man and get himself thrown in the King's prison indefinitely. Along comes the Magus, the King's senior advisor, who pulls Gen out of prison and sets him an impossible task. Journey to a hidden temple, steal a mythical artifact, and turn it over to the King. On pain of death. A long, slow, excruciating death. Not being a fool, Gen agrees to the terms and sets out on the journey accompanied by the Magus, his two apprentices Sophos and Ambiades (or as Gen likes to refer to them: Useless the Younger and Useless the Elder), and the inimical soldier Pol. And thus begins the adventure. Set in a world that is not quite ancient Greece but looks very much like it, it is a story that builds up slowly, but surely and I won't say that I didn't wonder once or twice if it was ever going to get where it was going. But hindsight is 20/20 and I can see now just how methodically and craftily Megan Whalen Turner leads you down the primrose path into thinking it's a simple story about a simple thief. It's remarkable, really. Because the whole thing does build up into one humdinger of a climax and by the time you realize what's happened there's nothing left to do but doff you hat to the irrepressible Gen for he completely wins the day and the reader as well. Nothing in this story is what it seems and that is possibly Turner's greatest strength. She (and her Thief) have the ability to take on any guise and pull off any ruse in order to achieve the desired result. In this case, it was my unadulterated adoration and I gave it up without even a hint of regret. THE THIEF, for the two of you who haven't yet fallen victim to this wonderful series, is the first of three books in the Queen's Thief series. Word is Ms. Turner is at work on the fourth as we speak. Thank the gods.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Published in 1996, The Thief was selected as a Newberry Honor Book in 1997 (had the winning book been different for that year, I'd say Megan Whalen Turner had been robbed, but I hold a special place in my heart for E. L. Konigsburg's The View From Saturday so I can't say that). One website gives this explanation of the award: "A medal presented annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in the United States in the preceding year. The recipients must be citizens or residents of the United States." That hopefully illustrates how big a deal it is to any readers unfamiliar with such awards. Whalen's second novel, The Thief is set in a world that Turner likens to ancient Byzantium in later volumes (Byzantines > Greeks). In this one, however, she acknowledeges similarities to ancient Greece. The story follows a man named Eugenides who, at the beginning of the novel, finds himself locked in the king's prison of a foreign land. Quietly biding his time, Gen occupies himself by marking days and practicing cat-like movements around his cell. The achingly monotonous routine is broken when the king's scholar, the magus, recruits Gen for a hunt of sorts. The magus knows the site of an ancient and valuable treasure that would be of great value to his king. But despite his vast learning, the magus cannot get the treasure alone. He needs a skillful thief. And before his arrest, Gen "had bragged without shame about [his] skills in every wine store in the city" before his arrest outside of still another wine shop. Given his choices, Gen unsurprisingly agrees to acompany the magus on the quest. As their party traverses the countryside on their way to this elusive treasure, it becomes clear that more is at stake than riches. This novel (and its two subsequent sequels) center around three kingdoms--Eddis, Sounis, and Attolia--whose fates, readers soon realize, are bound together more intricately than anyone might have initially thought. Some novels are adventures, some are character-driven. The Thief is, for the most part, a quest novel although it does feature several twists and more than a little intrigue. However, without Turner's wonderfully evocative characters none of that would matter. Eugenides is, in many ways, a star. And he knows it. Nonetheless, affection for this character is contagious--he is unbelievably sympathetic and extremely original. And clever. By the end of the novel it becomes obvious that Gen is always at least five steps ahead of everyone else and always holding all of the cards. Told in the first person, this novel is the first I ever saw where a character said something acidly. ("That," I said acidly, "is the way my mother told it to me.") It seems silly to talk about one sentence from a piece of dialogue, but that kind of writing is why I love Megan Whalen Turner's books. In fact, if I was being completely honest, I cherish these books. Working in a library, I sifted through discards for years to acquire the complete trilogy. The books are old and dingy with processing marks aplenty, but none of that really matters because they're also all mine. Although it was a Newberry Honor Book for children's literature, I've seen this novel categorized as YA. It's also the kind of book that could easily appeal to boys and girls--fans of historical fiction and fantasy. In other words, this is a book for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love O. Henry for his fabulous plot twists. Megan Whalen Turner produces some great ones too throughout her Thief series. Some have said that the book starts out slow but if you hang in there it is WELL worth the experience. Do NOT read when you need to sleep at night my mom, my sister and I all stayed up to finish it! This book is beautifully written and wonderfully orchestrated.
Artstar More than 1 year ago
This book starts out very slow but by about page 90 or so it becomes engrossing. It pays off big time in the end. Contained an awful lot of d and gd words for a young peoples book though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello, fellow book readers. I would just like to tell you my, Michaela E. Age 12, thoughts on this book. So far I am enjoying it although it does say the d word quite often and I am only in the book about PG 30. It seems well written with a interesting plot subject. Reading it though now is gruesome because of the slump in the book where there is no climax. Currently if you made a climax chart it would be a straight line. I congratulate anyone who can get through this part. Just to let people wondering it is 170 pages. Hope you have found my review helpful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So I had to do a book report on a newbery award or honour book and i chose this one... i absolutely loved it and deffinately will read the next ones in the series <3
katarinasmama More than 1 year ago
I'm re-reading the first three books because the fourth, A Conspiracy of Kings, has been released this summer and I enjoyed them so much the first time that I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any of the details before I read the newest installment. The Thief is the first book in the series and introduces one of my all time favorite characters, Gen. Gen is a boastful thief, who lands in prison because of his well publicized reputation that he can, indeed, steal anything. When the King's magus arrives with a proposal for Gen to steal a famous religious object belonging to a rival country, Gen has very little choice and joins the magus and his two apprentices on a journey through a landscape filled with dangerous obstacles. What I love about The Thief is that it's told from Gen's point of view and well being a thief, he can't always be entirely trustworthy, now can he? Or perhaps he is just that -- trustworthy, loyal and predictable. You can never be sure. Not even when the last page is turned. The world that Megan creates is so detailed and dense that you want to keep unraveling its many layers of politics and intrigue. The mythology is presented with a nod to ancient religions and one that makes you think about your own current belief system as well as those of others around you. This is one of those books that you will not be able to put down and when you finally do, it'll leave you thinking, interpreting and wondering about what you just read. Given the synopsis and general fantasy plot, you'll wonder if he's that Hot Boy with a Sword I adore reading and I'll tell you that Gen hates sword-fighting and tries to avoid killing anyone. That statement alone will hint at the luxurious details and tasty little plot twists that will surprise and delight you as you journey along with Gen. I encourage you to pick up this series and join me in reading it this summer.
lilredrooster More than 1 year ago
This was a different book, I have to say. I started out not knowing what to expect, and turned out pleasantly surprised. The author starts the book off right in the thick of things, without a history, lead-up, or pretense. Gen starts in the prison, and we meet him and get to know him as he makes his journey across lands to steal a somewhat mythological prize. The background of the plot and world are revealed as Gen, the magus and his apprentices, and a traveling soldier, make their way across the country, yet everything is held back slightly, so the reader never gets the full story; just enough to go on. That technique, and being able to keep the suspense through not telling the reader everything (especially since the story is told in first-person by Gen), is very tricky, and Turner pulled it off masterfully. Really, her storytelling abilities are honed sharper than a knife, and really shine throughout the novel. Very few people could pull off the ending she did without some kick-ass abilities and careful plot construction. Much kudos there. The characters are also surprisingly real and relatable, especially given that the world created isn't like reality. There are multiple deities, divine interventions, and towns, cities, and countries that are completely unknown. But the characters are realistic, witty, and downright funny. Turner really writes them to be clever and fleshed out, even though they remain somewhat mysterious throughout the novel. Only thing I felt a bit lost on was the geography and world-building, because that part felt a bit superficial, but the way that Turner ended the story left ample room for growth without potentially boring the reader. I'm really looking forward to the next installment, can't lie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the plot of the book, it was charming and entertaining. It had my attention from the beginning and i didn't think it would be very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good, I think it was really good. Started out a little slow and it really did keep you waiting the first half of the book, but in the end it paid off. To me it was slightly predictable in some ways, but I think it was still a great read. Over time, I really fell in love with the main character gen. I also really want to the next book. The religion, I think, was also really interesting and a nice addition to the story. I think the book was good. Really good. But I really wish the guy who pushed the guy off the cliff didn't have to die! I really liked that person! If u read the book you'll know what I mean but I'm not spoiling anything!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Basicly, this book is about a teen thief named Gen in an ancient civilization. He is freed from prison to go on a hunt for a powerful stone from the gods that will grant the owner immortality. Good Plot. Gen, also Eugenides, is a funny, quick wiitted, and cheek boy who you will quickly learn to love. There are also characters that you will hate. All characters are well formed and carried out through the entire book. The letdown of this book was the execution of the plot. I WAS BORED! Walks through olive trees, stomach rumblings, and memories of Gens past come up far too often in this story. Te only exciting part is the end, which can get confusing if you do not pay proper attention. If you are busy and cannot focus on a story well this is not for you.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Mixing fantasy with Greek legend and it feels quite realistic. The treatment of the Gods is quite realistic. We first meet Gen in a prison cell where he's languishing after boasting and stealing the great seal from the kings magician. The Mage rescues him to help recover a jewel of great price.It's a great read and the twists that the story takes are great. I really enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more in this series.
Nikkles on LibraryThing 5 days ago
A fantastic book, just like the rest of the series. The characters are compelling, funny, and thought provoking. The pace is fast and the plot is always twisting. For an older audience it is not that difficult to figure out many of the twists but it is so well written I'm sure you will not mind.
elre on LibraryThing 5 days ago
A fantastic start to a favorite series of mine. Using its own set of mythology and landscape, present quest and old tales are intermixed with skill, vivacity, and humor.
Crewman_Number_6 on LibraryThing 10 days ago
Very good 5th or 6th grade level book. Strong and interesting plot with a surprise ending.
Nymphadora on LibraryThing 11 days ago
This is a brilliant book. The plot is very carefully laid out, the characters are incredibly lovable and I found myself wishing I could bring them all to life. The entire plot is unpredictable as well as interesting, with little twists and mysteries. I would recommend ages 13 and up because I daresay anyone younger would not be interested in such a complex novel. And this is only the first of the series -- the other two (Queen of Attolia, and King of Attolia) are just as brilliant.This = LOVE.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A favorite of mine
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Immediately buying the next!
Aditi-ATWAMB More than 1 year ago
A book about a master thief? SIGN ME UP. When I saw that Harper Collins India was going to be publishing the first four books in Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief series here in India with the GORGEOUS new covers, I was beyond excited. I only requested the first two, but being the awesome sauce humans that they are, they sent me all four books and now I’m going to have an amazing time bingeing through the series! #BingesAreTheBest My thoughts about The Thief: · As I said before, I was VERY VERY excited about this book. Say the words ‘Master Thief’, and my mind automatically shifts to Kaz (aka Dirtyhands) in the Six of Crows duology. I couldn’t wait to experience Gen’s world, see the cunning thief that Gen promised to be and pretty much find myself a new favourite character. · The Thief was a very informative book. It had a lot of world building and introduction to the political climate. If I didn’t have the next three books to read right after, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. · While this book had GREAT WORLD BUILDING, it had very little else. In Gen, I didn’t find a master thief or a skilled manipulator. Instead, rather than a Thief, I would call him a very skilled explorer. For three quarters of the book, we saw him being taken out of prison, walking across countries and complaining about food. He seemed like a half acute observer, and until they reached the Temple, there was NO THIEVEING HAPPENING. · Honestly, if there was one thing I could have changed, it would have been to describe HOW Gen stole, or rather, made him more shrewd and cunning – something. Even as plot twists are revealed, it seemed like the entire book was based on an uncalculated risk and pure luck. · Obviously, Gen wasn’t ALL I wanted him to be, but that didn’t mean I didn’t like him anyway. His carefree attitude, how he admitted that he could be wrong, and the promise of who he would be from the next few books, all seemed promising, I just didn’t get it in book one. · I LOVED THE RELIGION AND THE STORIES. Gen and the Magus (the King’s right hand man) tell these stories about the Ancient Gods that I really loved for the pure amount of thought that went into them, and how much they contributed into building this world up. · The Thief was a quick read, but it didn’t feel like a great book itself. It felt like a prequel – setting us up for the real adventure, which I am very excited to read about. Do I recommend this series? Yes, but I would consider this book a prequel to it. It’s a simple, quick and fun read that I’m hoping gets more complex as I dive in deeper. 3.5 stars.
NissaLD More than 1 year ago
"I can steal anything." The famous last words of Gen before he lands in the king's prison. The magus, the king scholar, offers Gen a 'job' he can't refuse. So Gen, the Magus, a solider, and two of the magus apprentices go look for a hidden treasure. Straight to the point. I liked this book and I didn't expect all. This books come highly recommended on Booklr (book side of Tumblr.) and I decided to give it a shot and I'm so glad that I did. The way the author writes, it's engaging, leaving you wanting to more, not wanting to put the book down for fear that you will miss something. The characters though. I don't really have a stand out one that made me love them like everyone else. I kind of like Gen and Sophos, heck even the magus. I found Gen to be really whiny to the point it was becoming annoying. Me not connecting with the characters knocked it down half a start. The other reason why I knocked it down another half star was because I found the last two chapters to be very confusing. Maybe it's just me, but I would of loved it if it was written a little more clearer. I'm still confused, but I think I kind of get it. I'm hoping that I will love the next few books in the series and fall in love with these characters like everyone else.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it.
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