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Kamet And The Attolian’s Excellent Adventure

Megan Whalen Turner returns (after an excruciating wait) with Thick As Thieves. The bad news: it's a bridge book. The good news: it's a really good bridge book.

Kamet And The Attolian’s Excellent Adventure
We all spend our time under the sign of the idiot.

BOOK REPORT for Thick as Thieves (The Queen’s Thief #5) by Megan Whalen Turner

Cover Story: SOS, We’re In Distress
BFF Charm: Yay and Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: I Plead the Fifth
Talky Talk: Deceptively Simple
Bonus Factors: Road Trip, Old Friends
Anti-Bonus Factor: Slavery
Factor: Bridge Book
Relationship Status: Intra-series Libertine


Cover Story: SOS, We’re In Distress

From the text down, this is a pretty elegant cover. My feelings about having a new cover theme, after I already have the first four signed (ARGH) aside, I love the black, white, and gold motif. The illustration is a cool, stylized version of what happens in the book (a pretty shipwreck!)...even if the “marble” reminds me of the “business cards” I printed at home during the 90s. You know you remember that hunter green marble look, don’t lie. 

On the other hand, the font choice reads “generic fantasy” to me, and the size really overshadows the cooler features of this cover. I have the same complaint about An Ember in the Ashes/A Torch Against the Night; cover design like this reminds me so much of the pot-boiler fantasy I used to read when I was an actual young adult. They all start to blend together, and that does us all a disservice. Would you pick this up off the shelf if you weren’t already obsessed with Megan Whalen Turner’s books? I’m not so sure I would.

The Deal:

Kamet is a slave whose master has just been murdered, and a nameless Attolian is trying to “help” him escape. Within the span of a moment, his life has changed—if he stays, he will be interrogated and likely killed under suspicion of his master’s death. If he goes with the Attolian, he might be murdered and left on the side of the road…or worse, brought to serve the stupid, weak Attolian king. Rock, hard place, meet Kamet.

Nothing is quite what Kamet expected, though. The dust-for-brains Attolian is treating him like a free man, and he’s not sure what the point of this particular road trip might be. Luckily, he knows that all Attolians are stupid and uneducated, so he’ll be able to outsmart his new captors.

Or will he?

This book is impossible to write about, except in the most vague terms, because I really don’t want to spoil a single thing for you. (There are many bonus and anti-bonus factors I can’t really discuss in a review.) Let’s discuss, with spoiler tags, in the comments!

WARNING! The review below may contain spoilers for The Queen’s Thief series, Books 1-4. Proceed with caution. (And really, if you haven’t read those books yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Read them and come back to me. We have so much to talk about.)

BFF Charm: Yay

The Attolian—whom you will recognize if you’ve read The Queen of Attolia recently—is a real delight. He spends the book putting up with all manner of Kamet’s shit, and he does it with unflagging kindness and patience. Personally, I would have strangled Kamet about six times by page 150, former slave or not.

BFF Charm: Eventually

Oh, Kamet. Pride goeth before a fall, and you’re teetering on the edge of a giant cliff. Despite the fact that he has been a slave nearly his entire life, Kamet wields a fair amount of power in his captivity. His world is small, but he’s risen to the top, and likes it that way. He is as canny a character as any you’ll find in Turner’s books, but when he’s stripped of his comfort zone, he flops around like a fish out of water. Who can blame him? Would you trust the Attolian? Of course not.

One of the joys of Turner’s world is that characters often surprise the reader (and other characters!) with their personal growth and hidden depths. Kamet’s no exception. His journey from being the big fish in a small enslaved pond to a free man in a big world tugs at your heartstrings, even when you want to gag him (and secure that gag with duct tape). His pride and snide thoughts aren’t all there is to him, and by the time you reach the end, you’ll be rewarded with another book bestie.

Swoonworthy Scale: I Plead the Fifth

Is there romance in this book? Read it and tell me what you think.

Talky Talk: Deceptively Simple

Megan Whalen Turner is the master of deceptively simple writing. Her series should fall under our “Straight Up” category, because the sentence structure is clear and flows easily, without any exposition—but as usual, there is so much more lurking underneath the surface. 

Knowing what I know about this series, I went into Thick as Thieves trying to read it in two ways: one, simply for the joy of reading the story, and two, taking notes to try to figure out what she’s hiding in the narrative. I’m delighted to report that I did not predict even half of what she had set up.

Interestingly enough, this book is set in first person. If you’ll recall, The Thief is the only book in the series (until now) to be written in first person; the rest are in third. This is a really interesting choice, and it led me to come up with some wild [incorrect] theories.

Bonus Factor: Road Trip

When I titled this book report Kamet and the Attolian’s Excellent Adventure, I wasn’t kidding. This is totally a road trip book, much like The Thief.

Bonus Factor: Old Friends

The callbacks in Thick as Thieves are everywhere. Even though many of our old friends from the previous four books don’t appear for the majority of the book, there are plenty of subtle nods to them. (I’ve only read this once, but I can tell that it, like the rest of the series, will reward the re-read.)

Anti-Bonus Factor: Slavery

Obviously, slavery is bad. (Unless you’re a Twitter troll, I guess, and then all bets are off.) I don’t mean this as an anti-bonus factor in that it detracted from my enjoyment of the book. I mean that reading about Kamet’s enslavement and his struggle with his new freedom hurt my heart. I guess it’s nice to know that I can experience a feeling. I guess

Slavery in this world is not defined by skin color. (Kamet's complexion is described as “golden,” just like the Attolian’s.) On page 27, Turner describes slaves as being identifiable because they are bare-legged, and wear a straight shift and a golden chain (and a plaque inscribed with the name of their owner) around their necks. This also works in Kamet’s favor, because the only thing distinguishing him from a free man is that uniform. Kamet and the Attolian’s struggles blending in have more to do with language and customs.

Factor: Bridge Book

Usually I would call a bridge book an anti-bonus factor. After all, I went into this book so ready for the major conflict between the warring countries, to say nothing of desperately longing for more Eugenides, more Attolia, more Eddis. The war isn’t here, yet, but it has now been beautifully set up.

The reason it’s not an anti-bonus factor is because Kamet and the Attolian’s story is important…in fact, you won’t have any clue why it’s so important until about the last fifty pages. I don’t toss around the word “masterful” often, but there it is. This is one hell of a masterful bridge book. I should have known.

Casting Call:

Avan Jogia as Kamet

I am never NOT going to cast Avan Jogia, when the mental image fits. Possibly even when it doesn’t. LOOK AT HIM.

Taylor Lautner as the Attolian

No one really fits my mental picture of the Attolian (a golden-skinned hulking mass of muscle), but since Kamet thinks the Attolian is a total idiot (Jacob Black), but he is also described as attractive and ripped (Jacob Black), Taylor (hey, did you know that he played Jacob Black) seems like the right man for the job.

Relationship Status: Intra-series Libertine

Book, I’m a real libertine when it comes to you and your four closest friends. I’ve dated you all and have come back to your friends, too, multiple times. I’m happy to say that you’re now firmly in my rotation, having given me the epic road trip adventure that I haven’t had since The Thief. Are you my favorite of the dates, so far? No—but that could change after I revisit you a few times. (Oh, my god, Becky. Look. At that. Bookslut.)

FTC Full Disclosure: I bought this book with my own damn money, because OBVIOUSLY, it's MEGAN WHALEN TURNER. I received neither money nor a pet unicorn for writing this review, despite how hard I wished for one. Thick as Thieves is available now.

Jennie's photo About the Author: Jennie Kendrick lives in San Francisco and has an excessive fondness of historical fiction, spreadsheets, turquoise sparkly things, and bourbon. When she's not reading, writing, or writing about reading, she cooks obsessively, runs an Etsy shop, and thrifts for vintage everything.