The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner
In this young adult fantasy, the thief Eugenides is dragged out of the king’s dungeons and onto a quest by a magus who cares only for his burgling skills and not about his survival. The magus wants to retrieve a mythical object called Hamiathes’s Gift from a temple full of traps. Hamiathes’s Gift is a sort of divine right of kings in rock form; whomever you hand it to gets the throne. Unsurprisingly, several local rulers want to have it under their control. What Eugenides wants… well, no one cares what a thief thinks, right?
Turner’s richly-imagined world is inspired by ancient Greece, and she sets up its politics and pantheon of gods like pieces on a chess board. It takes some time to get acclimated to the intrigue between the countries of Eddis, Sounis, and Attolia. But when the action gets serious, and the pieces begin to fall into place, and the characters have to choose sides, it’s like watching the springing of a very elegant trap. I may have actually cheered aloud. By the ending, I wanted to reread immediately to pick up the clues I missed, the details that were cleverly hidden in plain sight.
As much as I enjoyed the plotting, it’s the characters that drive this story and its sequels. Eugenides is a captivating narrator, charming and exasperating by turns, and he has a lot of growing up to do in The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. This series only gets better.
Check the WRL catalog for The Thief