Gods and Magic in Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief


  • Frances Foster University of Cambridge




Greek gods, Mythology, Young Adult literature, Fantasy, Magic


Megan Whalen Turner’s series The Queen’s Thief (1996 – 2020) centres on the political intrigues in a group of countries which are at once very like – but also very unlike – Bronze Age and archaic Greece threatened by a powerful Persian Empire. The first book in the series, The Thief (1996), begins as a political adventure haunted by stories of the gods. When those gods directly influence the action, the narrative changes from present political intrigue to a fantasy from the distant past. The mythology in The Thief reflects, imitates and distorts archaic Greek creation myths – stories about how the earth and sky were formed, the divine pantheon and heroes. I examine the presentation of this divine pantheon against the narratives about the gods in Hesiod, the Homeric hymns and Homer’s epics. I evaluate how the supernatural element interacts with the largely political narrative of The Thief. In so doing, I explore how the text blends a ‘classical supernatural’ with a world that is like – but in many ways very unlike – Bronze Age and archaic Greece.