The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Summary from Goodreads:
I can steal anything."
After Gen's bragging lands him in the king's prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king's scholar, the magus, needs the thief's skill for a seemingly impossible task -- to steal a hidden treasure from another land.
To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.
This book is different. It's a more quiet kind of fantasy read, less swashbuckling, more dialogue and story-telling. There is no romantic angle and none of the big bang magic fantasy stuff. So I get why people might find the story too sleepy and slow. But despite that, it still sustained my interest for various reasons.
One, because of the dynamic characters. Gen, the thief starts off as a witty, bragging, whiny, thief. The Magus seems like a know-it-all who looks down on people. Pol as a tough, trusty guard with little emotions to show. But as the story progresses, Turner was able to reveal little by little that there are more to these characters than meets the eye. Even the other minor characters like Ambiades and Sophos are endearing enough.
Second, because of there is that cloak of mystery that Turner adds to the whole story. Like there is a secret that I just have to unearth. I had to know what exactly was this thing that the Magus wanted Gen to steal, how does the government of Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia fit into all these and their relationship with each other. There is just a lot of secrets and political intrigue that made me want to read on. The last few pages were especially exciting and the ending has an element of surprise and of course more mystery.
Although it isn't the jumping up and down type of read for me, still I found it to be something quite different (in a good way) from most fantasy stories I've read.