I'm not a mystery reader, and I've never fully appreciated whodunits, so by rights I should have been irritated with the Attolia books rather than ent...moreI'm not a mystery reader, and I've never fully appreciated whodunits, so by rights I should have been irritated with the Attolia books rather than enthralled by them. Unguessable twists and turns are the hallmark of the series: the reader can't possible figure out exactly what is going on because we don't have the information necessary, but we're haunted by the certainty that something more is going on than what the other, non-trickster characters are seeing. This was a sick-day reread for me, and I was just as captured by it this time, even knowing the upcoming twists (those that I could remember, anyway).
Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, has acceded to the throne of Attolia. He sleeps through official meetings, plays the fool, and generally convinces his attendants, Guard, and other members of the court that he is either weak or a buffoon. Most of the narrative is from the perspective of Costis, an honorable guard who's fallen into the unenviable role of being Gen's lackey. He's not the brightest, and his opinion of Gen is nearly as contemptuous as everyone else's, at least in the beginning. What makes the book interesting is that the reader knows better.
The King of Attolia is, IMO, the absolute best of the three books. What makes it so excellent is that Megan Whalen Turner's sleight-of-hand with the plot mirrors the complexity of the relationship between the new King and the Queen. Even through the cloudiness and uncertainty of the plot, there are glimpses of powerful emotion that kept me hanging on to every word and possible clue. The backstory of their relationship -- the Queen's torture of Gen, the uncertain coercion of their marriage -- plays a huge role, coloring every important element of the story.
There's been a lot of discussion about whether the narrative gaps in this book are an intentional plot tool or due to its being a sequel. Many people believe it could stand alone. I think it's clear that the narrative gaps are a tool, but I think the whole emotional web that gives the book such intriguing weight is dependent on the The Queen of Attolia. (I think The Thief serves primarily to show that Gen is more than he appears.)
I heard a rumor that a fourth book is on its way, and as there were several Sounis-related loose ends that weren't tied up in this book, I'm hopeful! These keep getting better and better. Please write more! (less)
It is amazing to me how much this feels like my community, even a generation removed and twenty years after publication. There's even non-preachy, non...moreIt is amazing to me how much this feels like my community, even a generation removed and twenty years after publication. There's even non-preachy, non-issues-y body diversity and realistic sex! I just loved it all over again, this time with an deeply affectionate recognition that I didn't have when I read it the first time in college. It felt like when you meet extended family members and recognize yourself and your roots in a way that you didn't before.
Thank you, Alison Bechdel. This is still the best reflection of us that I've ever seen, and I didn't know how much that meant to me until I encountered it here.
ETA (!) - on a reread, five stars. I think her coming to power worked very well, as did the ambiguity of good/bad - right/wrong with all the character...moreETA (!) - on a reread, five stars. I think her coming to power worked very well, as did the ambiguity of good/bad - right/wrong with all the characters. Reread in preparation for Bitterblue - now to reread Graceling!
Withholding judgment on this one -- in terms of stars -- until I read it again. Which I might do this week! I enjoyed reading it, but had a few gripes that I can't reconcile on just one read: writing style was one, the use of "monster" was another, the fact that it took me over half the book to figure out what was going on*, how I feel about Fire a victim... I just don't know. I want to read it again now that I don't have to grapple with the figuring out what's going on.
*it felt like reading Jellicoe Road to me -- I kept going back to reread and see if I missed something, because I was too confused to figure it all out. 1>(less)
I picked this up again today, since I'd spent most of the movie thinking "huh, I didn't remember *that* part of the book" but not being entirely sure...moreI picked this up again today, since I'd spent most of the movie thinking "huh, I didn't remember *that* part of the book" but not being entirely sure if it was the film or my memory at fault. A spooky read with good pacing; typically, most of the creepiness comes from the juxtaposition of the everyday and the horrifically just-slightly-off. A good read for burgeoning readers of urban fantasy.
Pros: action-packed, good characterization of Omri and Patrick, moves quickly and has pretty good writing. Ke...moreA proctoring-during-STAR-testing reread.
Pros: action-packed, good characterization of Omri and Patrick, moves quickly and has pretty good writing. Keeps kids instantly engaged and reading. Even as a critical, discomfited reader I was racing through and waiting to see what would happen next (I didn't remember it from my first read over twenty years ago).
Cons: "problematic" is an understatement when it comes the ridiculous stereotypes *combined* with the whole "he's a real person, this has some basis in fact" things like the longhouse vs. teepee problem. Needless to say, I cringed during all the Little Bear parts.
I guess my policy will be to recommend The Porcupine Year to follow this one whenever I hear of a teacher doing it as a classroom read-aloud!