Genre: Fantasy, YA
First published: 1996
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Synopsis: 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.
This book is as old as I am. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked for one very simple reason: it was kind of boring. This is a tiny book, shy of 300 pages and most of it is just… people riding horses and eating olives. Which is both unnecessary to the plot and boring to read about.
I really enjoyed the characters. Well Gen, the main character at least. He is a conniving, smartass thief. I love those kinds of characters and I really enjoyed him. But unfortunately, there weren’t many other characters present, as mentioned, most of the book is just them travelling and having idle conversations at mealtimes. But I did like the other characters, such as they were.
The world was nice. It’s not a very intricate world, there is no complicated magic system. There is some magic, but it’s not very heavily involved. I would call it a light fantasy world. Still, I liked it, it’s very Mediterranean and there are interesting elements of court politics. I wouldn’t call it fascinating, but it’s a solid world.
The writing was good as well, as long as you don’t take into account that it was mostly just describing roads and meals. You can definitely tell that this is an older book by the style, it’s not your typical YA style of writing, but I don’t find that to be an issue, in fact it’s quite refreshing.
This book’s hamartia is its plot… because it seems to be mostly absent for the first two thirds of it. Everything that happens, happens at the end and while it is interesting and does set up for future books, it doesn’t make up for the 200 pages of nothing that precede it.
All in all… I wish I had more to say about this book, but it doesn’t even give me anything to talk about. It’s just pretty boring. Like I said, it does set up for more interesting sequels, and I do plan to continue with the series, but for this first book… quite disappointed.