Behold, my favorite series ever.
Most people have trouble picking a favorite book, and I admit, depending on how recently I’ve read other amazing books, I sometimes doubt my go-to answer: The King of Attolia, book three of the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. But since the first time I read this series, easily half a dozen years ago, my answer has always come back to this book.
I reread these books (for the fifth? seventh? time) in the last week before school started, and I completely and utterly remembered why this series is so important to me. At first, I was going to try to review each book, but I honestly have trouble forming complete sentences when thinking about how much I love these books, so I decided to skip individual reviews and write this post instead, describing what exactly makes this series a must read.
Here is the plot synopsis for book one, The Thief (a mashup of Goodreads’ and Amazon’s descriptions)
“I can steal anything.” Gen’s bragging lands him in prison . . . but then the king’s magus needs the thief’s skill for a near-impossible task: to steal a priceless magical jewel from a faraway land.
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.
I have a confession to make: I did not want to read this book when my mom bought it for me. I was in elementary school (third grade, I think) and nothing about this book grabbed me. The plot sounded “whatever” and the first page (though it now occupies a special place in my heart) was dull. The Newbery Honor seal on the cover sealed the death sentence; have you noticed that children’s books that get these awards are always boring? At least that’s what had been true up until this book.
Since this series remains hype-less, I have to assume that a lot of people felt the same way. But I am so glad that I finally picked it up and got past the first pages–and fell in love.
Reasons I Love This Series
- GEN. He is such a great character. There aren’t words to describe his personality–you just have to read about it. I guarantee you will love him. The best (and often used) word to describe him is incorrigible
- SO MUCH HAPPENS. It is really hard to talk about why I love book two because where it starts is entire football fields away from where you expect book one to end. The same thing holds for talking about book three–if you haven’t read the second book, you will never guess the turn of events that leads The King of Attolia to happen.
- But the series still has continuity. Even though each book has a strong and independent plot, the series still maintains continuity. The feeling you get reading the first few chapters of The Thief is the same feeling you get reading the last chapter of A Conspiracy of Kings (book 4).
- Everything is so effing intricate. I’m sorry, the half-curse-word is necessary. You haven’t read these books until you’ve reread them; you haven’t understood the immense web of details that Turner created until the fifth time you’ve read the books. I’m not kidding–the most recent time I reread the series, I was still having OH MY GOD moments when I realized the significance of certain scenes or lines of dialogue.
- This series makes you think. These books don’t spell things out for you. They leave breadcrumbs and trust that you are smart enough to follow them. The broad strokes of the plot are simple and easy to read, but the true power of the series is hidden, waiting for superfans to discover (*raises hand*). It also uses complex vocabulary that you don’t often see in YA/MG books. Incorrigible, for instance.
- It breaks the rules. There are certain things that authors generally don’t do to their main character. MWT throws those guidelines out the window. Honestly, depending on how you categorize the POVs of books 1 and 2 (because there is a difference), each book has its own main character. But we still get the same story, and the plot of the series moves forward continuously. And those main characters get pummeled.
- It doesn’t play for unnecessary drama. In this way, these books honestly aren’t modern YA. Don’t get me wrong, I love dramatic romances and revolutions and awkward first days of school and even the occasional love triangle. But one of the things that captivates me about this series is the fact that it draws me in without any of those flashy plot devices. It is just incredible storytelling.
- Unique fantasy. I consider the series to be in the fantasy genre, but none of the characters have magical powers. The setting (a made-up island that resembles ancient Greece) has the feeling of a fantasy series. Also, there are gods, and they interact with the politically-oriented plot to weave in fantasy elements.
- The romance is mature and simple and utterly perfect. Because the series has so many different POVs and plots, I can’t say more than that about the romance. It is a subplot, carefully woven into the later books without ever dominating the series. It is amazing and plainspoken and blows all YA couples out of the water. THEY (avoiding names here) are my OTP, unquestionably.
Have you bought the books yet?
No? Are you driving to the store?
(I’m kidding…kind of.)
Seriously, people should read this series. I’ve never read anything like it, and from the discussions on nameless book 5’s Goodreads page, I’m not alone in my obsession.
If you’ve read these books, fangirl/fanboy with me in the comments!