The Thief of Complex Plotting

Just as I stopped complaining to myslf, a week or so ago, about not finding a really good book to read, a book that would carry me away to far lands, I picked up Megan Whalen Turner’s magnificent The Thief. Sucked into the landsape of Eddis, Sounis and Attolia without a last glance behind me, I fell in love with Eugenides, the narrator, and his adventures. Three books later, and I’m worried — Megan Whalen Turner had written four books so far, but I am not ready to say goodbye.

Turner is a master plotter. Her prose sings. Her landscape maerializes before my eyes like a movie, sometimes a grim black and white film, at other times a colorful, musical adventure. Reading her novel is like taking a deep breath and diving into the clearest water, expecting to find the bottom of the pool below, instead discovering the rich life of a sprawling reef.

Have I told you yet that I love this book?

Rich, a rich tapestry of life and intrigue, a longing for adventure, love and life, the complexitie of being — I don’t know how she did it. How do you create such a world, so alive? No wonder that in each novel’s end note Turner says that the events there described are fiction, for how can one author’s mind encompass so much unless it was the truth?

I have always admired composers, their ability to hear separate threads of music, themes, instruments and turn them into one cohesive, melodic piece. Mozart, for example, surely was a genius. Or Bach. Beethoven. How were they able to hold all this music together to create their perfect concertos? I had not thought about novels the same way — yet here, in Megan Whalen Turner’s work, is a symphony of voices, characters, action, threads upon threads that somehow coalesce again and again into the most amazing, unexpected conclusions, shining a new light upon every written word.

Have I told you already that I love this book?

Eugenides is flesh and blood in mythological proportions. The gods speak directly to him, giving him their answers in short, clear sentences: go to sleep, stop whining. He is elusive, strong, a master swordsman, yet fragile, with an undeniable fatal flaw. I don’t want to tell you the plot of either novel, because there is no way to do that without spoiling the story. I read the first novel without an idea as to what to expect. Caught by the story, I read Eugenides’ adventure as he wished to tell it, in his own order and words.

What I loved about the series: Eugenides’ voice, the shifting landscape of his journey, the sea of olives, the dirtiness of prison, the arrogance of weak men, the beautiful yet cruel queen and the second, pants-wearing queen whose nose is broken. I loved the gods and their easy intervention in human life, the hidden temple, the isolation of Eddis, the friendliness of Sophos, the myths told by Eugenides and the mage. I loved the delicate, gentle love affair which slowly unfolds before the reader’s eyes without ever being acknowledged. And above all, the figure of the Thief, sitting high above the city, shrouded in the darkness of the night.

Which books do you love whose story, characters, or landscape carry you far far and away like this?

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Sigal Tzoore (650) 815-5109