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.

Review: Dreadnought, April Daniels

tfw basically all you have to say to convince anyone to read a book is the premise (cf: time-traveling pirates): TRANS GIRL SUPERHERO. Danny is struggling with how to tell her parents that she’s a girl when the superhero Dreadnought falls from the sky, bestows all his powers upon Danny, and magically transforms her body into a girl’s body. All at once, she has girl parts and superhero powers, and neither of those is exactly easy to explain to the people in her life.

Dreadnought

TRANS. GIRL. SUPERHERO.

So in the first place, it’s terrific to read more #ownvoices books about trans folks, and I hope as the years go on we’ll get more and more of these. I was particularly excited about Dreadnought because it’s as much about Danny learning how to be a superhero as it is about her transition — maybe more? dunno — and I love that. She never struggles with her own gender identity, only with other people’s expectations of her, which leaves a lot of room for anxieties and fears relating to the awesome godlike powers that have fallen upon her with no warning and no instruction manual.

Dreadnought is a first novel with some first novel problems. At times Daniel can be heavy-handed with her exposition, and there are plot threads and character arcs that receive inconsistent amounts of attention at different points in the book. By the end of the book, though, Daniels has set Danny up with a little team of her own, some impending doom to grapple with in future books, and an array of complicated relationships to continue navigating. The book isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely fun and engaging, and I’ll absolutely be picking up the sequel(s).

Content note! The superhero stuff in this book is mostly your typical fun superhero fare, but Danny faces a lot of ugliness around being trans. She gets called a bunch of slurs by people who should be on her side, including her father and best friend, and this doesn’t really let up as the book goes on. So be prepared for some characters to be awful and not to come around as time goes on. (Maybe in future books.)

TRANS GIRL SUPERHERO THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT.