Discussion Post: The Thief (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

“I can steal anything.”

After Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king’s scholar, the magus, needs the thief’s skill for a seemingly impossible task – to steal a hidden treasure from another land.

To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.

A reminder that there may be spoilers in the discussion below, but that they will be clearly indicated beforehand (*hint hint*). Thanks!

Week 1: chapters 1-3

Week 2: chapters 4-6

Week 3: chapters 7-9

Week 4: chapters 10-12

23 responses to “Discussion Post: The Thief (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner

  1. My favourite line in chapter one is when Gen meets the magus:
    “I wanted to look lithe and graceful and perhaps feral as I unwrapped my feet and sat up. Caught by surprise and nearly blind, I was clumsy and would have fallen off the stone bunk if the chain had not still been wrapped around one foot.” (p. 5)

    This is Gen (at this point in his life) in a nutshell. In a nutshell of beautiful prose.
    Also, erm, I have maybe had moments like these. Minus the prison and chains.

    • I love this line, too! I love the entire getting-out-of-prison sequence, actually (“jerked and jostled down the portico, just as graceful as a sick cat” is especially nice). Also, the whole conversation up in the magus’s office and the back-and-forth where they both score points is always fun to read.

  2. I love how intelligent Gen is in these early chapters – having weighed the possibilities and consequences carefully, he takes the actions that benefit him the most and amuse him simultaneously.

  3. Chapters 1-3 done and I must say that while the pace is slow, the characterization of Gen is splendid. I feel like there is more to him than we know but it is all done so subtly that it’s very delicious.

    • Gen is such a memorable character. I completely agree that the reader gets this sense that there is more to him than what he directly shares with both the reader or other characters. It makes him quite intriguing & compelling throughout the series – even when the POV shifts to another character in the other books. I’m not sure if I’ll get to re-read Queen of Attolia (it’s still my favourite in the series) next month but will drop by the discussion thread.

  4. I love how much fun Gen is having, with all his whining and complaining and chewing with his mouth open. He’s basically just a brat! There are some great quotes that really pinpoint his character, but my Kindle is all the way upstairs.

    • We do learn a lot about him very quickly in the first few chapters, don’t we? For example, I’d forgotten that Gen’s dislike of horses was established so early in the series, but of course it would be – it’s one of the things we know best about him, so it makes sense that we’d see him yanking on the reins and almost falling backwards off the saddle and wondering if horses are smart at all in Ch. 3.

      • That dislike of horses is the most inexplicable thing about Gen :p
        I’m joking, of course. But, Gen, really. Horses. Of all the things in the world to be afraid of, why horses?

        • I was just dropping in to see how you were getting along, and you go and ask a question like that! Why does Gen dislike horses … fanfic writing muse awakens, stretches, and borrows/steals the keyboard…

  5. I’ve read the books a bunch of times and it was really interesting to come away with something new again (every time I read them, there’s always something new, which is why this is my favourite book series!). This time it was Gen’s preoccupation with fabrics that really got me.

    I know from the later books (very slight spoilers I guess) that he has really particular interest in clothing colours and clothing styles, but I never really thought about it showing itself outside of the later books in the series. More than anything, I guess it was just something I never really registered before, but he does it so much. The magus’ cloak, Ambiades’ cloak, his own clothes, it was something that really struck me this time in a way that it never had before. I really love Gen’s preoccupation with clothing and fashion, I think it’s a really interesting character trait.

    Awesomely, it also functions as something else to foreshadow Gen being of higher birth, because Megan doesn’t do anything in this book without it being some kind of foreshadowing.

    (Side note: my fsvourite line of foreshadowing/irony is in chapter 1 when the magus says that they might one day have mutual respect for one another and Gen thinks “first, I will see the gods walk the earth”. Gets me every time)

    After reading the conclusion, does anyone else have a favourite piece of foreshadowing/something that really blew your mind or was really obvious in retrospect? I love talking about every little detail she adds to give subtle hints towards what he’s hiding but also fool you into assuming things about Gen.

    • That line kills me too! Gen, you WILL see the gods walk the earth, and you and the magus are going to get along pretty darn well.

      I also love the scenes in the inn – first, when Gen realizes that they expect him to resent the idea of having to wash again, so he whines thoroughly when really he’d much rather be washing thoroughly because he is entirely sick of being grubby, and second when he chews with his mouth open deliberately. He knows they expect him to have appalling manners (etc) so he very carefully shows how much worse his manners are than they expect, which further deflects attention because they then don’t want to look closely or pay him any notice at all. Gen never does anything for only one reason. <3

      (Spoiler!) Did you catch the significance of Gen rebraiding his hair the first time you read The Thief?

      Speaking of fabrics, (spoilers!) whether it comes from the book or from Sounis, I have this image/phrase of Gen as being as vain as a parakeet. I would really love to see someone draw a yellow (for the tunic he buys in Sounis) parakeet that is Gen, or, from the later books, a multi-coloured bird, proudly preening, that is Gen in his colourful kingly attire. KoA has a lot of emphasis on clothing, and on control of clothing, use of clothing, who is wearing what/whose clothes, cloakpins… I'll have to watch for all the use of cloth :)

      • Yeah, I definitely caught the rebraiding of the hair (although I caught it after the fact, obviously, I don’t usually manage to figure out what Gen is up to beforehand!)

        Gen is definitely vain. It’s amazing that for all his bad qualities; his temper, his vanity etc. he still manages to be so charming and likeable.

        (Also, I just realized I posted my comment twice! Wasn’t sure if it went through the first time, bad connection. Would you be able to get rid of the second post for me? )

        • No worries. Let me know if I deleted the wrong post.

          I remember reading it for the first time, and when I got to Gen braiding his hair, I stopped. It was like the passage was glowing with a “this is significant” light. I knew it was significant, I could make a stab at what he was doing, I just couldn’t figure out how he’d done it. Those tricky thieves!

          Now that you mention it, Gen has an amazing number of bad qualities. He’s a bit like Howl of Howl’s Moving Castle in that way – totally outrageous and yet impossible to dislike. (I suspect both Gen and Howl would be infuriating in real life, but it’s much hard to be annoyed with anything they do or say on paper.) Both vain (clothes, hair, jewelry), socially adept, charming, intelligent, well-read, quick-witted, manipulative, physically fit males with very deep loyalties and a tendency to disguise their true feelings/motives and throw temper tantrums.

      • The parakeet comment is very similar to what Attolia says to him in KoA – “Perhaps if you didn’t order your clothes in colors that would suit a canary?” followed, of course, by some snarking about the alternative: drab all-black, which it doesn’t sound like he’s in favor of at all!

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