More powerful and cunning than ever before, Eugenides the thief must navigate a perilous future…
We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from Megan Whalen Turner’s Return of the Thief, the twenty-years-in-the-making conclusion to the Queen’s Thief series—available October 6th from Greenwillow Books.
Megan Whalen Turner’s beloved and award-winning Queen’s Thief series began with the acclaimed novel The Thief. It and four more stand-alone volumes bring to life a world of epics, myths, and legends, and feature one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. Now more powerful and cunning than ever before, Eugenides must navigate a perilous future in this sweeping conclusion.
Neither accepted nor beloved, Eugenides is the uneasy linchpin of a truce on the Lesser Peninsula, where he has risen to be high king of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis. As the treacherous Baron Erondites schemes anew and a prophecy appears to foretell the death of the king, the ruthless Mede empire prepares to strike.
“Your Majesty,” said Xikos as we walked back through the dark where the lamps were few and far between.
“What is it, Xikos?” asked the king.
“Is it true that your cousins used to chase you through the palace of Eddis?”
The king slowed, eyeing Xikos warily.
“That they were never able to catch you?”
“We caught him sometimes,” one of the larger Eddisians protested. Aulus, the one I’d thrown up on. “Unlike the Attolians, who never did.”
None of the Attolians dared to say that the Attolians had indeed caught him.
“Without cheating,” Aulus finished.
“Where are you going with this, Xikos?” the king asked outright.
“Two cities says we could catch you,” said Xikos. He showed the gold coins resting in his palm. The other attendants stared in confusion. Ignoring them, Xikos said to the Eddisians, “If each of you will put up that much, each of us will.”
“What?” cried the rest of the attendants immediately, no part of this plan.
“Deal!” the Eddisians shouted as fast.
None of them were as quick as the king, who had already slammed Xikos against the wall, pinning him in place.
“Xikos.” His soft voice curled around Xikos like the hook around the attendant’s neck. “Since when do you have two cities to rub together?”
Xikos, eyes white all the way around, stared over the king’s shoulder.
“Aulus?” prompted the king, not taking his eyes off Xikos’s face.
Aulus blew out his breath in disappointment. “Boagus and I gave him the money,” he admitted.
Xikos sagged against the wall in relief.
“Why, Aulus?” the king asked.
Aulus looked at his slightly smaller partner and then back at the king.
“Come on, Gen,” Boagus said. “Be a sport.”
“We march tomorrow and you want to fleece my poor naïve Attolians?” said the king.
While Aulus and Boagus insisted it was an entirely straightforward bet, the Attolians bridled at being labeled naïve, though in retrospect, it was clear they only partially understood the role of betting in the Eddisian court and the nature of their games.
“They don’t have to bet,” Aulus pointed out.
The king considered his people’s traditions. The temptation was evidently too much.
“They do now,” he said, “and the best is for ten barrels of the best aposta—for the guards whose competence has been mocked.” To his attendants he said, “If you catch me, my fine cousins will pay for the liquor. If you do not, then you will pay for it. Is that clear? Good. Xikos, give Aulus back his money and we’ll set some ground rules.”
Hilarion and Ion were still protesting, Xikos was reluctantly passing over the two cities, and suddenly the king was gone. He went so fast the Attolians were left flat-footed and the Eddisians all laughing. “There are no rules!” they shouted at the Attolians. “Go! Go!”
Excerpted from Return of the Thief, copyright © 2020 by Megan Whalen Turner.