Review: Thick as Thieves, Megan Whalen Turner

What a world we live in, friends. Long, long, long ago I read the four books in Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, and I hella loved them. Almost a decade later (okay, seven years, but still), Thick as Thieves, the mythical fifth Queen’s Thief book has arrived, and it did not disappoint.1

If you haven’t read the Queen’s Thief books, I advise you to walk away from this post straight away and read them. The Thief is the first one. It is fine. The Queen of Attolia is the second one. It is an infinity of fire emojis. Get on it.

Anyway, so this one. Nahuseresh, formerly the Mede ambassador to Attolia, who was so magnificently put in his place by Attolia in The Queen of Attolia, had this secretary called Kamet who helped him escape from Attolia. In Thick as Thieves, Gen sends an Attolian soldier to help Kamet escape from the Mede, an event which — fortunately for Kamet — coincides with Nahuseresh’s untimely death by poisoning. A road trip ensues.

If you can bear a very minor spoiler that even I, a woman notoriously bad at guessing spoilers, was able to guess, the Attolian solder Gen sends is Costis. When I figured this out (I swear it’s not much of a spoiler, it’s very guessable very early), I nearly died of delight. The King of Attolia is my favorite of the three books, partly because we get to see how the hell Gen and Irene live their life now, but largely because of Costis, the sweetest cinnamon roll maybe in any book ever. What with Costis being a major character and the whole book being about a road trip, there was just no chance that I wouldn’t love Thick as Thieves.

Thick as Thieves bears the closest resemblance to the first book in this series, The Thief. Kamet and Costis travel widely through Mede, constantly in lowkey or highkey peril, as often as not dirty and wounded and uncomfortable and complaining. But of course, Turner has advanced tremendously as a writer since twenty years ago when this series began (itals bc I can’t believe how long this series has been happening, not bc I’m mad at Megan Whalen Turner about anything), and she’s better than ever at conveying everything that happens between the lines of dialogue these characters are actually saying to each other.

Which brings me to my next point: Thick as Thieves is gay as hell. My sister texted me a little way into reading it to be like “Kamet sure is talking about Costis’s muscles a lot,” and my friends, truer words were never spoken. The whole structure of the story is romantic, from the forced proximity of the road trip to the tending each other’s wounds to the looming Big Lie that threatens their ?friendship? happily-ever-after. While it would have been nice to have a female protagonist for a change (especially given how fucking great the queens of Eddis and Attolia are and thus how confident I feel that MWT could give us the greatest female protagonist of our time), a queer road trip story was pretty terrific too.

Have you read Thick as Thieves yet? Did you find it to be substantially gay? Will you be requesting Queen’s Thief fic this Yuletide?

  1. Except in one small way, i.e., it would have been nice to have a lady narrator for once. Five books in, the all-male points of view are starting to feel a trifle pointed.
  • Jeanne

    Oh! I want to read this immediately! I thought it was coming out June 1, but we’re home from our trip and I can’t find it immediately available in any of the ways I know to get new books delivered out in the rural.

    • Jeanne

      …and I found it. Oddly, investigating a pre-order made me temporarily unable to see it as published.

      • BLAST if I had known you didn’t have it, I’d totally have given THAT to you this weekend. :p

        • Jeanne

          your gift is so much better, though, as it’s something I never would have ordered for myself <3

  • Omigosh!!! Is this OUT??? I am sure I had it on pre-order from Amazon. What the heck, Amazon? No email, no nothing?! Going over there RIGHT NOW to sort it out. I have 3 copies on request, one for me, and one for both of my (adult) children, so they won’t steal mine. We collectively love this series; Megan Whalen Turner is a brilliant writer; albeit way too slow at getting this stuff out there. 😉

    So, no. I haven’t read it yet. But a Costis and Kamet road trip, oh gosh, please. And thank you.

    Maybe we’ll get the female POV in what, 2025 or thereabouts? Whenever our beloved story-master has a chance to polish her next installment to a fitting state of perfection. (And I think there is yet another installment in the works? I seem to remember an interview where MWT said 6 or 7 books would be needed to bring this saga to a nicely rounded conclusion.)

    Made my day, Jenny. THANK YOU!!!

    • YOU ARE SO WELCOME and this comment made MY day because I am THE MOST excited about this book and I want to ALWAYS spread the word about it. Oh I hope you love it, I hope you adore it!

  • Lisa

    I was so happy to see your post, I just bought my copy yesterday.

    • YAYYYY I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! It’s a little slow to start, I think, but I ended up really loving it.

  • Aarti

    I completely understand the idea that there could be some man love underlying everything else here, which would be really great. BUT I also think it’s pretty nice to just have a story about two men traveling as friends who deeply care about one another. I don’t know if there are enough stories like that in the world, either, just presenting two men as enjoying their friendship and wanting to be there for the other. There are more stories like that about women’s friendships, but very few (that I know of, maybe there are many?) about men. So, I read it more as a book about friendship and was happy with that. But I would also be happy with it being a little sumpin’ sumpin’.

    • Aarti

      HAHAHAHA, just saw your “dick as thieves amirite” label/tag. GOSH, I feel like with this new (not new at all any more) format, it makes it harder for me to remember that you are the BEST LABELER EVER.

  • Stefanie@SoManyBooks

    Wow an infinity of fire emojis! That’s a lot of fire emojis! 😀

  • Akilah

    I went too long between reading the other books in the series so I’m going to read this soon before I forget everything.

    I noted the lack of female POV in Conspiracy of Kings. MWT would do well to focus on some badass ladies for sure because Attolia and Eddis (and Sophus’s sister) are already super badass so imagine A WHOLE BOOK OF THEM.

  • I enjoyed it, but then I like journey books. If I didn’t I probably would have wanted to set it on fire because it is literally 80% road trip. I agree that it’s similar-but-better-than The Thief, but the almost complete lack of female characters on the page was really really irritating. Especially the portrayal of Attolia swooning on a couch, come on.

    I have to agree with Aarti on this that I don’t think this was a “gay road trip.” I think if that’s where Turner was going she would have gone there full out. But a bromance? Eh, fair.

    • Aarti

      Totally agree on complete lack of female characters, except as previous love interests. BRING ‘EM OUT, BRING ‘EM OUT, MWT.

      Also agree on the ratio of journey to action. Especially as I figured out the “twist” fairly early on, so it felt like a lot of whining and worrying about nothing.

      But I still love MWT and want more!!

  • I haven’t read it, but it sounds like I should! How can I pass on a book that inspires “an infinity of fire emojis”?

  • Kristen M.

    Dang it. I read The Thief and was kind of meh on it–it was okay, like you said–so I wrote off the rest of the series. But now I need to know what’s in that second book!