This novel, more about a 1997 Newbery Honor Book, is the first in a trilogy about a semi-Grecian world. There isn’t a lot of magic, but there are gods, and it’s set in a time that never was, so it occupies that misty land between fantasy and children’s literary fiction. If you wanted, you could call it a genre-bending book; that may have contributed to its Newbery status. Whatever you’d like to call it, many more impressive people than me have called it a great read.
Gen is the thief of the title; as the book opens, he’s in prison and musing on his state. Shortly thereafter, the King’s Magus drags him out of prison and informs him that he’s going on a journey. There is an ‘ancient treasure’ (as the back of the book calls it) hidden, and although many people have tried to find it and died in the process, the magus is certain that not only he knows where it is, but that he can retrieve it as well. Naturally he needs Gen’s help, for the treasure must be stolen. This treasure — Hamiathes’s Gift — will bring peace, honor, and wealth to the kingdom. Quite naturally things go all pear-shaped; no one is quite who he seems to be, and several other countries get involved in the situation. Continue reading The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner