Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief opens with an apparently low-born thief, locked in prison, then freed by a small band of characters who work for the King and wish to engage the thief’s services to help them steal a valuable stone known to them via the legends of the Gods.

They set forth on a journey to find it. Its whereabouts is known to the man in charge; who is counting on the thief, Gen, to retrieve it.

Eugenides, aka the Thief goes along. But he has a surprising agenda of his own.

Remember how amusing the repartee between Gimli and Legolas? The exchanges amongst these companions are more mean-spirited. It reflects the mix of good and bad amongst the sojourners that reveals itself by the end.

It is a quirky tale that seems to take place at the time of the Middle Ages, yet speaks of the use of guns. That hearkens to the fact that the author is not trying to write historical fiction. Thank goodness. I’ve rarely found the -post modern author that can approach the Middle Ages without taking pot-shots at the Church.

This author was inspired by the tales of the old Greek Gods and the Greek countryside. Her tale reads weaves a story of pagan Gods reminiscent of the ancient Greek ones (Gods and legends, that is). The travelers relate the stories of the Gods around the campfire… One appears to Gen in a dream and guides him, a la Odysseus-style. With the favor of the Gods, he obtains the ring they are seeking, encounters the Gods that he believes in, though the encounter does not make clear that these Gods exist: an argument can be made either way, and his companions remain skeptical. All culminates in a surprise ending that reveals the agenda of the Thief.

Should this be a problem for older tweens? Knowledgeable ones? Probably not. They will have encountered much the same in the Iliad and the Odyssey. But I detect a possible creep of author bias. Specifically, there is a point where the main character, after we have grown in fondness and appreciation of him, makes note that he finds the rituals and traditions of the temples empty. Oh, he believes in the Gods, but he’s “beyond the temple worship.” Duly noted. Sounds suspiciously like the contemporary pop view: I’m spiritual and I believe in God, just not organized religion.


See Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Liturgical Worship 1070


Anonymous,  March 13, 2010 at 7:29 PM  

helpful and accurate

Anonymous,  December 9, 2010 at 12:52 PM  

there should be more on the book like theme and minor characters. that would be helpful

Tween Lit Crit December 9, 2010 at 8:11 PM  

Hmmmm. theme and minor characters would be helpful for parents/teachers/librarians, or for "helping" someone with their homework?

like that's going to happen....

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