_The Thief_, with spoilers galore--extra long for your enjoyment

Gross Family argross at bigpond.net.au
Fri Mar 8 10:25:32 EST 2002

Thanks for your long, mumbling and juicy ramble, Melissa! You've explained
in detail, with reference to actual pages in the book, what I argued only
very generally.You are obviously less
lazy than I am. :-)

I've snipped most of Melissa's post up to this point:

> What's more, this is a manipulation of what readers expect from the
> first-person POV (something Ros noted above).  The assumption is that
> whatever lies the POV character may tell to other characters--and whatever
> lies other characters tell which go unquestioned by the POV--that narrator
> will not, at least, lie to the reader; if his internal narrative is
> there will be external evidence to clue the reader in to the discrepancy.
> Turner takes advantage of this to keep the secret up until she can reveal
> to best advantage.  This isn't strictly cheating, but it's a manipulation
> writers can't get away with very often, because it destroys the reader's
> trust in the author's narrative choices.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant.

> This bothers me so much because _The Thief_ is in all other respects a
> superior book, and one that deserves attention.  The competing versions of
> the mythology, with their references to oral history versus scholarly
> history, are alone worth the price of purchase.  The characterization is
> sound and compelling; even the "evil" characters retain their humanity.
> Sympathetic characters are hurt and one even dies, because the narrative
> demands it--and Turner doesn't flinch from this, though I wonder if she
> a twinge at sending Pol to his death.  I know I would have.  And the
> relationship of the gods to humankind is beautiful, particularly Gen's
> encounter with Hephestia and the other gods.  I loved the moment when Gen
> tosses off a casual, not-serious prayer to Eugenides--and it's answered.
> Some modern authors have a tendency to dismiss the ancients' belief in
> as mere superstition, and though Turner's world is completely made up, she
> refuses to take this easy route.  So the fact that this beautiful book
> ultimately rests on a cheap parlor trick makes me a little annoyed.

Again, I can only agree, on all counts.

> _The Queen of Attolia_, thank heaven, doesn't have the same problem.  In
> fact, it impresses me no end, quite aside from the fierce emotional
> attachment I developed to it.  It is on the short list of my desert island
> books (though to be honest, if I were stuck on a desert island with only
> books I couldn't live without, I could build myself a two-room bungalow
> those books alone).  I think Turner is an author to watch.

I've now got _The Queen of Attolia_ and will be reading it next, but a
review I read somewhere had a spoiler in it that distressed me...


Seems funny to have a spoiler alert when I haven't even read the book
myself, but the review mentioned that Gen has his hand cut off by the Queen
of Attolia, and this made me wonder if I wouldn't like the book. I *hate* it
when reviewers do this...


> Melissa Proffitt
> (I wanted to do something clever here, to compensate everyone who made it
> the end, but after all that composition, I'm tapped out.)
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