I’ve been reading that these books by Megan Whalen Turner are really good. Particularly The Queen of Attolia. But it’s book 2, and to understand it, I had to read book 1, which is The Thief.
Gen is the best thief in all the land, and proves it by stealing the King’s seal and showing it off in a wineshop. He’s promptly smacked into prison. But before long, the King’s magus pulls him out, and takes him off on a trip to steal a mythical item hidden so well that people don’t think it exists.
It’s told first person from Gen’s perspective, and he has enough wisecracking snark to carry us through what would otherwise be a dull book about hiking. Because these guys hike a lot. They’re trying to sneak into a neighboring kingdom to steal this item, and we ride with them through the valley, up the mountains, down the mountains, and out to the coast.
Fortunately, the hiking is interspersed with interesting character revelations about Gen, the Magus (who turns out to be a really nice guy) and growing tension between the Magus’s two apprentices and their bodyguard. Finally there’s a mysterious labyrinth that fills with water after a few hours, appearances by gods and goddesses, sword fights, capture, escape, and chase scenes.
There’s also a twist ending, but if you read the summary for book 2, it gives pretty much everything away about book 1. I wished I hadn’t done the research. I’d have been much more surprised.
Anyway, I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. Especially with all the hiking. Now I can read the second book that everybody raves about, and see if it deserves the praise.