I recommend this series for: grade 6 and up
I normally review each book in a series separately, but since I'm waaaay behind (who knew that little babies take up so much time? ;-) and I sped through these three books at lightning speed, I'll just do them all together.
In The Thief, Gen is a young man who is rescued from the king's prison by a royal advisor with a vitally important mission. The king wants to marry the queen of Eddis, the neighboring kingdom, and since she has refused him, he needs a gem given by the gods that bestows the right to rule her kingdom. As an extremely talented thief, Gen is ordered to steal it.
I can't say much about the two sequels without giving away major spoilers, but all three books are serious page-turners. There is a lot of political intrigue written on a level that even younger readers can grasp fully. Gen is bold, hilarious, and fallible, which makes him interesting and fun. As a reader, you don't get to see what he is thinking until he puts his plans into action, which makes for a lot of surprises along the way.
What else did I like about the series? The twists and turns, the relationship between Gen and his monarch, the Grecian-esque world, the myths that characters share with one another, the way that characters speak to the gods and receive their answers, romance in the most unexpected places, and how Gen always, always turns out to be smarter than you (or any of the other characters) think he is. This is a must-read series, particularly for fantasy fans, and it would be great for reluctant readers as well - there's a lot of action and some really funny moments. And there's more to come - book four is due in 2010!
Reviews for The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia. Beware of major plot spoilers in the reviews for Queen and King.
Mature content - there are a few instances of mild swearing, and a reference or two to "the king's wedding night" in book 3 that are never made more explicit than that.