megan whalen turner won the newbery in 1997 for her book 'the thief'. i don't remember why i picked that one up, but it blew my socks off. i told j. this and she expressed shock that a newbery book could blow anybody's socks off. has the newbery gained a reputation for dullness? perhaps, but turner's book was anything but dull.
set in a made up realm, designed to appear archaic, but to possess some of the trappings of a much more modern society (there are pocket watches), turner's settings have been largely influenced by ancient greece. the the main character of the series ('the king of attolia' is the third book) is eugenides, the thief of eddis. trained to be a thief from his youngest days, eugenides is used to getting anything he wants. he's not a thief in the sense that he is an outlaw though. the thief of eddis is a high ranking position in the eddisian court and reports to the monarch. in his role of thief eugenides found himself caught up in all sorts of political intrigue which required him to use all of his skills as a thief just to keep himself alive. he has been imprisoned and tortured, and the third book finds him married to the queen of attolia and learning to act, not as a thief, but as a king.
it is a hard road for eugenides as attolia and eddis were previously at war, and it was eugenides scheming marriage to attolia's queen that saved eddis. eugenides finds he must work hard to prove himself capable and worthy of the respect of the men in his command. if you enjoy historical fiction peppered with more than a little action, than turner's books just might be your thing.