The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: B+

From the inside flap:
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.

That description makes this tale sound dull and full of theological tales, but really, there are only 3 or 4 of those. The real story involves Gen being recruited by the magus to help steal a stone that supposedly imbues the owner with immortality and proclaims him or her the rightful ruler of a country called Eddis, a neighbor to the country Gen and his companions are from, Sounis.

Gen’s traveling companions are interesting, though not quite as fully fleshed out as they could be. The evolution of the relationships throughout the course of the book is subtle and well done, as Gen is simply viewed as a tool to start with. Gen himself is a very entertaining narrator, clever and trying to be as annoying as possible at first, which is amusing.

The author is good at evocative descriptions that aren’t too wordy, but I would have liked to have had a map so as to better visualize their travels, particularly in the last couple of chapters. Although this was shelved in the Juvenile section of the library, she doesn’t noticably oversimplify things for the benefit of a younger crowd. Overall, the traveling portions are less boring than I usually find and were enlivened by the interactions of the companions, but towards the end, do get a little repetitive. Thankfully, the end itself is not dull.

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