Saturday, January 23, 2010

For those of you who take more than a passing interest in political science and history...

I am going to recommend...a middle grade novel. That's right. Not even Young Adult. And you are going to love it.

That's because Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief is smart, tricky, and fun. It kicks of a series that only gets better as it goes along. As it does, Whalen Turner weaves in serious questions around diplomacy, leadership, and ethics. And it's so good. So good! However, before I get ahead of myself, let's talk about The Thief.

The story of Gen, a thief stuck in a king's prison, who gets taken out and then on the journey of a lifetime, seems simple enough. It's a road story of a band of unlikely companions (um all human, no hobbits) on a mission of political significance to the middle of nowhere. I know I'm not giving very helpful details. I just can't. So much of the joy of this book is letting the story unfold.

But I can say it's incredibly clever and grounded in a somewhat fictional historical and political reality that leads to much of the action in the next two books (I say "somewhat fictional" because while the setting is very reminiscent of Renaissance Greece, there's different geographical names, gods, and political landscape).

I've mentioned the next two books in the series, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. Do not read anything about these two books before starting The Thief. Jacket copy is not your friend. Just read the three books in order. You'll notice I'm not even linking to the next books in the series, so you won't be tempted.

In March, the long-awaited fourth installment in the series, A Conspiracy of Kings, comes out. I actually have the date marked in my planner and will probably be camped outside Elliot Bay Books on March 23rd, waiting for my copy. As March weather in Seattle is pretty much the most depressing thing ever, I could use company. And I'm quite sure, once you've read these three books, I'll have some.

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