I love this book.
Usually, I can't think of anything to say for any of the books on my favorites shelf, mostly because they leave me speechless. This is no exception, but I'll give it a shot.
So. Each one of the installments in The Queen's Thief series revolves around a different theme; The Thief was an adventure, while its sequel, The Queen of Attolia, is about the politics of love and war.
The King of Attolia, however, is about hidden depths, and things that are not what they appear to be.
It's also about loyalty and trust; specifically, how Eugenides, the former Thief of Eddis, earns the loyalty of the court of Attolia. It's a bumpy ride: with silly pranks, more serious conspiracies, gossip, hatred and prejudice at every turn, Eugenides has dug himself a hole too deep to manipulate his way out of. Or has he?
Gen is an amazingly complex character, who appears on the outside to be inept, foolish, and weak; an idiot who in every way is unfit to be king. He falls asleep in court meetings. He can't handle his own misbehaving attendants. He refuses to punish even the man who hit him in the jaw out of rage. The court calls him the "one-handed goatfoot who abducted the queen and stole her throne," because they know nothing about him.
They don't know how wrong they are: he's a cunning chessmaster
who knows exactly how to make them bow down, using careful planning, negotiations and mercy instead of his queen's preferred executions. In the course of time, Eugenides proves to each and every one of them what a king and warrior he can be.
But he doesn't narrate these revelations. The narrative of this novel is given to one of his personal subjects, a guardsman named Costis. I suspect this is a tool to let the readers see inside Eugenides and his wife Attolias' personal life while still giving them privacy, but it's all fine to me. As much as I love the romance of Gen and Irene,(view spoiler)[(Falling in love with someone who hates you, and staying in love even after she tortured you by cutting your hand off while you were only a boy? Or worse, falling in love with someone after you cut his hand off? If that doesn't make for a complicated relationship, I don't know what does.) (hide spoiler)]
I know it's dancing on the line between young adult fiction and children's fiction to give us more than the few sweet kisses we get. I heard there's two more books upcoming after the fourth - titled A Conspiracy of Kings
- and I hope to see more of this interesting and complex pair.
Megan Whalen Turner is very witty. Two or three re-reads of this book revealed hidden jokes, subtext, and meanings that I was clueless about the first time through. Even a short sentence might hide something that flies by at first glance. For example, take this sentence from a scene between Gen and the queen, in the queen's bedroom:
"I can't keep on apologizing," he said.
"Why not?" she asked over his head.
"Well," he said pensively, "I think you would be bored."
It was vain to hope he might cease to have things to apologize for.
"What happened?" she asked.
At first glance, the sentence doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Then you wrap your brain around it, and realize what she really means: It was unlikely that Eugenides was going to stop doing stupid things, which means that it's just as unlikely he'll stop having stupid things to apologize for. (But, of course, Attolia can always hope.)
I'm really sad this book only has that many reviews. It sorely deserves more attention.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>