Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything – or so he says. Then his boasting lands him in the king’s prison, and his chances of escape look slim. So when the king’s magus invites him on a seemingly impossible quest to steal a legendary object and win back his freedom, Gen in no position to refuse. The magus has plans for his king and his country. Gen has plans of his own…
Thank you NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is a bit of a classic, I know, but I hadn’t actually heard of it until I spotted it on NetGalley for its new edition reprint, and decided to see what it was all about! I had a fun time with it, in the end, but it took me a bit of getting into… the book opens with Gen already in the king’s prison, hopeless and in a very bad way. I did warm to him right away, this strange young man who got caught out as a thief because he had to show off stealing the King’s seal. He is proud, but knows his faults, and he is clever, and has reason to boast of his skill, which is why he finds himself forced onto a dangerous, and very secret, mission for the king.
Thus begins the part of the book I wrestled with. Gen is offered the opportunity to earn his freedom by stealing something of value for the king, and this something is across the border in enemy territory, which means that Gen and his watchful companions set off on a long journey, just as classic fantasy dictates! This part almost lost me, and the dynamics between Gen, the clever magus, his apprentices, and the wry old soldier weren’t enough to keep me interested the whole way through. I know, I’m being vague, but I don’t want to give away too much, because the second half of the story really got going and had a delightful number of twists! There were certain moments that, as they happened, blew the story wide open and shed a different light on everything that had come before. It’s very good story telling.
The world is also an interesting one, and seems to be almost an alternate history of the Hellenic world, as I got a very Greek feel from everything. It packs a lot of mythology and politics into it as well, with the area having a history of foreign invaders and the conflict between the old gods and the new. I am also very glad to see that the gods were present in the story, causing mischief as usual! Overall, despite a slightly boring interval, this was a really fun story and I’ll probably pick the rest of the series up when I get a chance!
Published: 1st October 1996 – this edition 5th May 2022 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: children’s fantasy
Series: The Queen’s Thief, book one
Narration style: first person, past tense
Format read: eARC