Monday, July 20, 2015

High expectations for The Thief

Perhaps this was a case of over-high expectations. Many of the book bloggers I follow have raved about Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series - Ana spoke of subtlety, romance, and political intrigue; Jenny wrote of subtext, character development, and plot twists; and Maureen has countless posts reinforcing her love for these books. It can be a very good thing to go into a book with high anticipations - there's a different sort of satisfaction when you expect to love it versus being surprised by it. But when a book falls short, it can be extremely disappointing.

All this is a lead-up to my saying, regretfully, that I didn't really like The Thief. I read it in a single evening, but would have been even quicker if I didn't constantly have to re-read sentences or even whole paragraphs. I'm not sure what it is about her writing style, but it didn't seem very clear to me (nor was it poetic, which in cases like Margo Lanagan or Franny Billingsley forgives any initial unclarity). In this case, I either couldn't figure out what was going on or just didn't absorb it at all and had to go back as if I'd never read the passage. The twist wasn't that spectacular - I actually thought Jennifer A. Nielsen's The False Prince did it better - and while the thievery in the temple was quite an interesting puzzle, I don't tend to be interested in a party adventuring through the wilderness, which encompassed nearly half the book. I did quite enjoy the mythological tales, though.

Normally, with such a "meh" reaction, I wouldn't bother reading any more. Too many books in the world to waste time on ones I don't love! But with so many rave reviews, I think I'm willing to give this series another go. I'll try one more book, The Queen of Attolia, and hope that in the next one, Whalen Turner really finds her footing.

If you've read The Queen's Thief series and loved it, what have I missed? Is the first book just not the greatest? How should I manage my expectations as I head into the next one?

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