(Photo: Greenwillow Books)
Do you love surprise endings? Convoluted plots? Progressive character development and mature love? Fantasy? Then The Queen’s Thief Series are the books for you. As of May 2017, the series consists of five books tracing the progressing fortunes of three countries: Eddis, Attolia, and Sounis, and the adventures of one character: Gen.
First published in 1996, The Thief was a 1997 Newberry Medal Honor book, and since then the series has accumulated a vast, devoted fan-base. While The Thief is a light-hearted rollick and fabulous starting point, a genuine jewel of the series is the artfully crafted third book, The King of Attolia. It is told almost entirely from the viewpoint of Costis, a young guard who ends up serving the new King (who he despises) through a markedly embarrassing event. But the King isn’t quite who and what he seems to be, and as a growing danger threatens the throne, intricate politics, narrow scheming, and the secrets of both King and court will be unveiled.
Turner cleverly delivers more of her trademark magic by building the plot off subtle details and throw away lines from the first two books that will have you seeing these earlier stories in a whole new light. Foreshadowing is liberal, so mystery devotees will admire the plethora of subtle clues that, to the sharp eye, will disclose the truth. There is also a healthy dose of psychology fascinatingly interwoven through the story and fleshing out the characters; in fact, a couple of the most important revelations hinge on this psychology, at least for the King. Turner adheres to the “Show, Don't Tell” rule like it was a commandment, and never stoops to explain what readers can understand quickly on their own, respecting their intelligence and fostering an almost interactive engagement with the tale she tells. This also allows her characters to become real, genuine individuals who are just as fantastic and flawed as the people we know in everyday life, and while character development occurs, readers are never left feeling they don’t know who the character has become.
So next time you need a break, a dose of fiction, or some summer reading material, try The Queen’s Thief series and see if you don’t fall in love with Gen, Eddis, Attolia and the magic of a genuine work of literary art. The result may surprise you.