Readers who (like me) are fond of Megan Whalen Turner’s THE QUEEN’S THIEF fantasy series, and who mourn the length of time between publication of her novels, can ease their pain just a little with the short story “Thief!,” originally published in August 2000 in Disney Adventures Magazine and now posted on her website. “Thief!” is a prequel to The Thief, the first book in this series. It’s a brief adventure in the life of young Gen, who begins to develop his thieving abilities at a young age. As readers of the series are aware, Gen’s childhood was marked by frequent run-ins with his numerous cousins. Young Gen has stolen some valuable gold, crystal, and onyx earrings from one of his girl cousins, and her incensed brothers are determined to run Gen down and force him to return the earrings before Gen can put them on the altars of a temple, irrevocably dedicating them to a god or goddess. And if Gen ends up with a few bruises during the process, so much the better, from his cousins’ point of view. But Gen, as always, has a few unexpected tricks up his sleeve, and good reasons for every maddening action that he takes.
“Thief!” is a fairly simple story, written at a middle grade level, skewing a little younger than the rest of THE QUEEN’S THIEF series. It doesn’t really break any new ground or offer any major new insights into the world or character of Eugenides. It does, however, give readers a glimpse of Gen’s childhood, his developing personality, and his relationships with his family, all in the course of a day’s adventure.
“Thief!” is a touching, enjoyable short story that fits in well with the overall series. Readers who aren’t already familiar with Gen are advised to start with The Thief rather than with this story, but for those who have read and liked at least that book, it’s worth the brief amount of time it takes to look up and read this short story. Thanks to Megan Whalen Turner for making this story available to fans who missed it in its original magazine publication.