Jessica @ The Awkward Book Blogger wrote today about one of her favorite series, The Illuminae Files, (which I still somehow haven’t read) and asked the age-old question–what is one of your favorite series? Immediately, several sprung to mind. Shades of Magic, of course! But it kind of feels like everyone knows about VE Schwab and has at least read one of her books. Okay, well, same could definitely be said for the Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. So, hmmmmm, not The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, then, but what? Those are among my most favorite. So I started scrolling through my Goodreads, wondering what I could possibly talk about.
And then. It occurred to me.
My dear little thief.
The Queen’s Thief
I almost NEVER see someone talking about The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner! And oh boy, I’m usually incoherent and just screaming EUGENIDES during my reviews for these books, so I’m going to do my best to withhold that and actually explain to you why I love these books.
Greek mythology with a twist!
I’m not sure if it’s ever explicitly stated that this takes place in Greece, and maybe it’s not actually Greece, but one of those Middle Earth deals where eventually it turns into the real thing. This is definitely Greece, though. From the gorgeous temples built to the pantheon of gods to the rolling hills of olive trees to the era-appropriate attire. Every time I read it, I feel like I’m settling down in an old, crumbling building in Greece and watching it slowly come back to life. Turner’s language is rich and detailed in a way that transports you right back into ancient Grecian culture.
The pantheon of gods is very similar, as well. You won’t see any familiar names, but all of them will feel very familiar. Throughout the series, different myths are woven into the fabric of the story in my favorite kind of way–as campfire stories between traveling companions, as whispered horrors into the night, as lessons for unruly kings, and as a way to spark that sense of magic and wonder that most have lost. Each story always has a reason for being where it is, as well. It may take a few chapters (or 100 pages), but eventually, the reason for the myth being gifted to us unravels.
I have to do it once. Eugenides, sometimes nicknamed Gen by only certain characters, is the main character in The Thief and a side character in all other novels. Well, side character is not really the right word for it, but neither is main character. Each novel has a different POV character, and Gen shows up eventually in all of them. Sometimes, he’s not named for a while so you’re left wondering where he is. But my favorites are when the POV is a character who thinks Gen is an idiot and a puppet king and then is schooled left and right by what a badass he is.
But why do I scream about Eugenides so much? I’m going to name drop for a second. He’s like if you combined Lazlo Strange with Rhy Maresh, dashed in a little Jesper Fahey, and a sprinkled some Richard Campbell Gansey III on top. Like, what a character.
He is loyal to a fault. He will do anything for his queen and his country, even if that means putting himself in harm’s way. (Okay, so squeeze some Captain America in there, too.) He’s brave, but in a sneaky Slytherin sort of way. He’ll run and hide until the very last moment, and then get all sulky before he stomps out and completely saves the day. He’s got your back, he’s just not happy about it. He is a thief in every essence of the word. You never know what he’s up to, and he’s always eighteen steps ahead of everyone, but quietly, sadly always falling into the same trap. He loves vibrantly, and in ways that yank at his heart and soul until he has no choice but to give himself wholly. He’s terrible at expressing his feelings through words, and instead climbs on the roof to make a grand gesture by nearly falling to his death and being saved by the gods. (Wait, the gods are real? Maybe. Maybe not. You’ll have to read to find out.)
Eugenides likes to pretend he’s nothing more than a simple boy playing tricks and stealing jewels, but that’s just a mask to cover how tender, awestruck, and heartbroken he is by life.
The politics alone will kill me.
Seriously, the way Turner weaves together all the different politics of three independent countries, plus an invading country, plus an overarching continent is incredible. And not even just those big level politics, but the workings of the city, the machinations of the king and queens (yes, plural, there are so many amazing women), and the spies and thieves and subterfuge all over the place. By about book four, I’d stopped trying to guess where things were going and just sat back for the journey. It twists and turns in ways I’m never expecting, but that leave me immensely satisfied.
Did I mention the women?
Oh, the women. First of all, everything Eugenides does, he does in the name of his queen. Two of the three independent countries have SINGLE female monarchs, and one of those two, though she’s thinking about marrying, is only thinking about doing it for love because girl, she’s got this. Man, the stuff that Attolia accomplishes while other countries are distracted trying to woo her.
GET IT, QUEEN.
I will admit that there are a lot of male characters and not a whole heck ton of female characters outside of Attolia & Eddis, the two queens, but they command such a presence in the book that I’m honestly struggling to remember almost any of the male characters’ names outside of Gen and Sounis (king of the other independent country, and we don’t even ever meet him, I only remember it because the monarchs go by the names of their countries).
And, lastly, the humor.
Y’all, this series is hilarious. Most of that comes down to Eugenides’ antics, but, for me, it was either the fourth or the fifth (I honestly can’t remember which one had which events) that had me cackling almost the entire book. It’s told in an outsider’s POV, who both doesn’t know anything about Gen and anything about the soldier he’s traveling with, and once you figure out who the soldier is, I was dying. Even just when things are finally unveiled and you find out what Gen’s been up to this whole time, I can’t help but laugh because OH MY GOD can more people please keep underestimating him?
Seriously, it’s Eugenides. That’s why it’s funny. That’s why it’s so damn good.
I absolutely adore these books. I spread reading them out as much as I could so that I could read the fifth one as close as possible to the release of the sixth one, and thennnnn it got pushed to next year, so now I will just wallow in misery until I can be back with my thief.
Have you read this series? What are some of your favorite series? Let me know in the comments below!