(review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com)
This is a series I've actually been wanting to read for quite some time; a lot of blogs I follow and respect praise these books. So, when Calico put it up as her Dare for the month of May, I was thrilled to have an excuse to read it sooner rather than later. Also, my brother had recently bought the book, so I didn't even have to pay for it. ;)
What I got was an amazing middle-grade fantasy adventure, that had some of the best characters I've ever read. I enjoyed the book at the beginning, but it was the ending that really pushed it into the 'love' category. Since I've finished this, I've gone out and bought my own copy, as well as the two sequels currently out in paperback (The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia). Soo, yeah, I think that's indicative of how much I loved this book.
When thinking back on this book, I have to say that there isn't a whole lot of 'adventure'. There's lot of traveling, sure, but not a lot of fight scenes, or anything like that. The book doesn't suffer from this at all though, because Whalen uses the traveling as a means for the characters to get to know each other, as well as an opportunity for the characters to tells stories of the gods, which serves as great world-building.
As mentioned before, the traveling allowed for all the characters of the novel to be in close proximity almost all the time, and therefore, they really got to know each other. The characters' are definitely this book's strong point. Their development was very well realized and I ended up liking pretty much everyone (except that one asshole who betrayed them -- but I doubt Turner wanted us to sympathize with him too much.) At first, I strongly disliked the magus, but he ended up being a pretty okay dude. Pol was a quiet, but respectable guy, and I felt really bad for poor Sophos, who I thought was a bit of a sweetheart. My favorite character was definitely the narrator, and the titular thief, Gen. His narration is witty and funny, and he's so well realized. He's a bit cocky, and not the most lovable at first, but there's something so frikken likable about him. I just loved him.
Also, don't let the fact that this is a middle-grade novel turn you off. It's seriously very well-written, as well as having one of the best cast of characters I've come across in awhile.
Also, the ending!! Maybe I'm just dumb, but I totally didn't see any of that coming! Of course, I noticed the clues and the obviousness of it after the fact, which is also a testament to Turner's good writing. It was this twist-ending that *really* made me appreciate the novel and want to go out and buy the sequels right away (which I did.)
I also really like the setting an the world that Turner has created. It's based on Greece, but it's no replica of the place -- there's just nice little sprinkles of it here and there, but it was still a nice new flavor for a fantasy setting.
Final Verdict: I loved this book. I'm really excited to read the two sequels I now own and to see where this series goes. Turner is amazing at developing characters who aren't exactly as they appear (the magus being my favorite example -- he came off as really unlikable at first, but by the end, I was quite enamored with him) and her main character Gen is awesome. He's a punk of a bit, but very likable, and his narration is really fun to read; he's cocky, but he's got a good sense of humour and is a very well realized character, along with the rest of the cast. While this is a fantasy, there's only hints of magic, and there's not a whole lot of action; it's mostly traveling, but this doesn't work against the book at all. There's enough going on, such as world-building and character development, to keep things interesting. Also, this book is very well-written; don't let the fact that it's a middle-grade novel turn you off, because you will be missing something *quite* good. Despite the target audience being children, I think adults will find a lot to enjoy here.