Thick As Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

I liked Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, but I didn’t love it. I think I liked Thick As Thieves better, but I don’t really remember too much about The Thief.

Set in the same world as the Queen’s Thief books, Thick as Thieves chronicles the journey of Kamet, the slave of the Mede nobleman, Nahuseresh. When he hears that his master has been assassinated, Kamet knows that his own life and the lives of all of Nahuseresh’s slaves are in danger. Can he flee to the kingdom of Attolia for safety, or is that destination a trap where even greater danger awaits?

Lots of palace intrigue, plots and conspiracies, plans within plans, ambition and power-seeking— all combine to make Thick as Thieves an exciting and compelling read. Wanted Kamet to escape not only from the Mede emperor but also from his own pride and ambition that kept him from trusting the very people who were obviously his friends and helpers. Kamet is a flawed protagonist; he knows his own faults. However, surviving a life of slavery has required him to deceive others and find ways to maintain his own self-respect despite mistreatment and subjugation. Feigned humility is a tool for survival as a slave; real humility and trust in the goodness of others are not wise or needed for life as a slave.

Thick as Thieves helped me to think about what it means for a person to be enslaved and thought of as a piece of property. What would such a life do to one’s sense of self, to a person’s decision-making abilities, and above all to the slave’s faith in God or other people or his own ability to live a life of freedom and integrity? What does a person who has lived a life of slavery do with freedom? It’s true that some of us don’t want freedom when it is offered to us. We prefer the “devil we know” to the possibilities that lie before us. What if we are tricked into freedom? Will we be able to deal with the choices and the loss of comfort that freedom entails?

A good book for adults and for older middle grade students. I always like a book that makes me think.

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