The King of Attolia
Megan Whalen Turner
I really need to finish up my March wrap-up, but for now, here's a review. The King of Attolia is the third book in The Queen's Thief series, though it doesn't have to be read in order. As Ms. Turner said on her website, The Thief spoils The King of Attolia. In order, the series is: The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and the newest book, A Conspiracy of Kings. I think it's beneficial to read them in order - it makes this one much more interesting, but it's not absolutely necessary.
Summary, from Goodreads.com: By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king's caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.
Without a doubt, this is my favorite book of the three. It combines the political intrigue of the second book with the surprises of the first without the romantic mess of the second. I loved it.
It's the first book not told all or partly from Eugenides' POV, and that has its advantages and disadvantages. I liked the change in voice, and I really liked Costis. He's an admirable character with, despite what Eugenides thinks, a slight sense of humor that makes the reading easy. Unfortunately, this book lacked the number of clues the previous books contained because it wasn't told from Eugenides' view. I think it had to be a different character telling it, to keep the suspense -- deception worked well in the first book, but I don't think it would have been believable in this one.
The plot was very interesting, though I liked it best when it focused on Eugenides and his troubles. The interludes of what Mede and Sounis are doing were necessary for the plot of the series to continue, but they weren't nearly as interesting (there wasn't much of them, so it worked). There were a few instances that really confused me, the largest one being Relius' betrayal (what exactly did he do that was so bad? I couldn't figure it out), but overall, the politics were handled well.
Much as with the second book, my biggest problem was the characters. The development of Costis and the personalities of the side characters were handled wonderfully, but the larger characters (the queen and Teleus) seemed too forced. The queen seemed more like a goddess than an actual person, which makes since seen from the eyes of Costis. The flashes of character the reader gets though, don't form to make a cohesive person, and it doesn't seem to fit with the previous book. Teleus' character changed dramatically, and it wasn't a smooth change. There were reasons for his changing, of course, but it didn't flow well.
The other characters were handled much better. Eugenides shows his skill in manipulating, of course, but also his insecurities and fears. This book (and the second even more so) is darker than the first precisely for this reason. I don't know if I like it, but it does make him into a well-rounded figure. None of the situations of the other characters are black-and-white. Ms. Turner does a wonderful job with fleshing out their motives, actions, and desires.
This was an excellent read, with only a few minor issues. Ms. Turner really delivered in her characteristic style with flair. I'm really looking forward to The Conspiracy of Kings, though I'm afraid it might depart entirely from Eugenides' perspective.
Cover: I'm not fond of any of the covers in this series, but this one is better than the rest. I like the title and the gold curlicues around it, and the picture isn't too bad. The picture doesn't fit the tone of the book - the queen's hand on his shoulder and youthful-looking face (what's visible of it, anyway), make it seem to much like a mother-son. The details are accurate, which is always a pleasant surprise.