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The Queen's Thief #3

The King of Attolia

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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.

387 pages, Hardcover

First published January 24, 2006

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About the author

Megan Whalen Turner

16 books5,277 followers
Megan Whalen Turner is the author of short stories and novels for children, teenagers and adults. She has won the LA Times Book Award for Young Adult LIterature, a Boston Globe/ Horn Book Honor and a Newbery Honor. She won the Mythopoeic Award and was shortlisted twice for the Andre Norton Award.

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5 stars
21,042 (55%)
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11,800 (31%)
3 stars
4,037 (10%)
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327 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,571 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,941 reviews291k followers
May 17, 2015

It's weird how I find the most difficult books to review are those that I knew were going to be amazing... and yep, this was amazing! I mean, what do you say that actually means anything? I could ramble on about fantastic writing, brilliant characters, excellent plot, this would all be true but the words are so empty and don't convey what I love about this series.

They don't say how this intricate fantasy world pulls you in with it's politics, it's culture and it's superstitions. It's like the excitement of walking through a wardrobe into the strange land of Narnia and not knowing what's around every corner, but needing to find out. There is no map provided in these books (at least not in my editions) but the parts of the world that we have explored so far are completely imaginable to me. I can imagine Attolia by the coast and picture the mountains running through this world that forge geographical, political and cultural boundaries. Am I starting to waffle? That's because I am in love with this series; is this how Romeo felt? "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." Okay, all right, I'm stopping before it gets even weirder.

I don't understand how so many authors can write in 1st person and still fail to create characters that interest me as much as Megan Whalen Turner does so easily in her 3rd person perspective. Perhaps it is that she only reveals what is absolutely necessary and the characters we think we know can so easily surprise us. This book is told from the point of view of Costis (an Attolian soldier) who is assigned to be the King's lieutenant and witnesses much of the goings on around the palace. I'm starting to think that this is ultimately the more effective way to tell a story. Well, Wuthering Heights was told entirely from the point of view of secondary characters, for one!

The story was excellent, I loved visiting Eugenides again and seeing how far he has come and how much he is still the same little devil we met in book one. This is a novel full of palace politics, new friendships, conspiracies, assassins and a dash of romance. I wasn't sure how the relationship between the new King and the Queen of Attolia would work out, but Turner handled it perfectly and the chemistry between two such unlikely companions was very exciting to read.

Oh and, of course, this is Megan Whalen Turner so you can be sure that nothing is as it seems...
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
June 1, 2019
“Are you badly hurt?”
“Hideously,” said the king, without sounding injured at all. “I am disemboweled. My insides may in an instant become my outsides as I stand here before you.”

Attolis, the new king of Attolia, is a pawn. He is lazy, unloved by his wife, and there to be a victim, unaware of the political machinations of his court. At least, that’s what his guard thinks of him; they love their queen, of course, but do not love their king. This includes Costis, his newly appointed guard, who hates him. With a clever point of view shift to a new character, this book is a clever and eerie ride.

This series feels so classic, like something everyone would’ve been obsessed with ten years ago. I hope people will still obssess over it now.

So what do people always praise about this series? Because item #1 is the plotting, and item #2 is the character work. I second both.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why the plotting of this series is so great, and it’s because Megan Whalen Turner is so good at planting and payoff. If a plot element shows up in the beginning of the book, it will be become a part of the book further on; within the world, with political elements, with character elements. Element after element is used for plot twists and it is always so satisfying and compelling.

And perhaps even more importantly, the character work here is fucking incredible. Gen is a fantastic mastermind. Costis is an impressively likable character, especially as he’s just shown up. Gen and Irene are one of the most endearing couples I have ever read about. Also, I absolutely love and adore the dialogue. It’s glorious and adds so much to these characters.

So why only four stars? You know, this has gotten the hype of being the best book in this series, and I have to admit, I’m not sure it lived up to that. One of my absolute favorite parts of The Queen of Attolia was the development of Irene; her slow character arc, the growing relationship between her and Gen. This book… lacked Irene. Okay, she’s there plenty, but I LOVE her and she was not in this book enough. Costis is a really interesting character and I really loved the growing relationship between him and Gen, but I admit, I was disappointed by the overall smaller scale of the plot twists and the action.

I do really like that this series is becoming primarily the story of small but powerful players within a very large world, but the shift was surprising, especially as the narrator, Costis, drives very little of the plot. It’s an interesting plot device, but as a result, I found myself losing focus on action within the middle. But this worked pretty well, because we’re so invested in the characters involved in the action.

And when it comes down to it, I really enjoyed this. It’s such a fun classic fantasy; I feel reminded of old Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce in the best way. It is a fantastic read and I cannot wait to get to the next book.

here are my other series thoughts:
book one - ★★★☆☆
book two - ★★★★★
book three - ★★★★☆
book four - ★★★★☆
book five - ★★★★★
book six - TBD

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Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,384 reviews11.8k followers
January 29, 2019
With this book Megan Whalen Turner has cemented herself as one of my all-time favorite writers. I absolutely loved "The Queen of Attolia" and "The King of Attolia" is a remarkable follow-up.

Eugenides, the famous Thief of Eddis, is now the King of Attolia. He is married to the woman he loves but he doesn't enjoy the power that comes with it. Gen is despised by Attolians, they think him a lazy fool and a treacherous abuser of their Queen. But of course, things are not at all what they seem to be...

The book is almost entirely written from the POV of Costis, an ordinary guard who at the opening of the book physically assaults the King. Instead of being executed, Costis is pardoned by Eugenides and soon even becomes one of his closest attendants and a center of various court intrigues. Slowly Costis, and we together with him, starts learning who his new King really is, the nature of Gen's relationship with his Queen and his schemes that are intended to reshape the landscape of Attolian politics.

As Turner's previous book, "The King of Attolia" is filled with political intrigues and power play, this time almost exclusively within the Attolian court. Another excellent addition - Turner's examination of royal power and the nature of loyalty to the superiors - a very skillful and clever touch. The characters (I am mostly talking about Gen and Irene) still remain almost anonymous to us (as they are to Attolians), the narration is not overburdened with their emotional turmoils, but whatever we get a glimpse of - for instance, Gen's complicated relationship with his wife (we all know their history and they both are not quite over it) - is touching and deep.

What else can I say? "The King of Attolia" is another masterful novel by Megan Whalen Turner. I expect I will enjoy "A Conspiracy of Kings" just as much.
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,317 followers
November 6, 2018
That scene, with Eugenides bleeding almost to death all while pretending he was okay, yet taking time to show his love for Attolia..... that bit right there is why I LOVED this book. I swoon. Sigh

Admittedly, I did not see it coming. That I would be entranced by these characters.

Gen and Attolia's love and marriage hit me in the "feels", while the palace intrigue and political machinations had me at the edge of my seat. Alas and as with all good things, the end has come. *Sniff.*

Thank you, Megan Whalen Turner, for writing such a phenomenal series.
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews994 followers
March 4, 2009
If I tell you that each book in this series just gets more and more exceptional, will you believe me? Or will you believe that I, like Eugenides, am simply telling you a version of the truth to get you to do what I want you to do? (In this case, to get you to read these books yesterday). Both things are true, by the way. The King of Attolia is even better than its predecessor and I will tell you anything to get you to read these books. Yesterday. Plus, check out my favorite cover of the three. Look at the feather scar on his cheek. Her hand on his shoulder. His grip on the sword. So awesome.

Eugenides has just embarked upon his self-imposed life of exile in Attolia. And to any and all onlookers, he is ill at ease in his new home. The queen appears to despise him, the court thinks him an idiot of epic proportions, and the guard are ready to murder him on their queen's behalf. The story follows a young lieutenant named Costis who is having a shockingly bad day. In a fit of righteous indignation, he hauled off and punched the king in the face in front of several witnesses, including the captain of the guard. Certain he will hang in the morning, Costis is shocked and discomfited to find himself assigned to be the king's personal assistant. Forced to serve the man he hates, Costis soon finds himself on the receiving end of a most unorthodox education of a lifetime. Through his eyes, the reader gets an intimate, exquisitely poignant look at the relationship between the King and the Queen of Attolia.

This third installment is the big payoff in many ways. The Thief set up the key characters, briefly sketching out their backgrounds and motivations--all against a background of a grand quest--and it did it with humor and style. The Queen of Attolia delved into the complicated psyches of the two main players, word by artfully chosen word, making your heart ache for them, ensuring you fall in love with them. The King of Attolia cements the whole gorgeous package. This is where Eugenides comes into his own. This is where you realize he's smarter than you. And so is Megan Whalen Turner. And you wouldn't have it any other way. This book is the real deal. Every scene is choice. Every sarcastic exchange. Every vicious riposte. Every hidden glance. It's a rereader's paradise and, as Oscar Wilde said, "If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all." The King of Attolia is so worth it. I can already tell I will be reading about these characters for the rest of my life.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,713 followers
February 15, 2021
Hurry, hurry, and listen carefully now, because god helps me, I'm feeling so elated that I'm not sure I might not burst into flames shortly. So here it is : The King of Attolia is without any doubt one of the best book I've ever read, and Eugenides is currently looking down at us, perched at the top of the podium of my favorite characters. You may bring your offerings.

That is all.

My reviews for the other books of the series :
۩ Book 1, The Thief ★★★★
۩ Book 2, The Queen of Attolia ★★★★ 1/2
۩ Book 4, A Conspiracy of Kings ★★★★

For more of my reviews, please visit:
October 3, 2020

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I'm going to save you a bunch of time and heartbreak, and tell you something I wish someone had told me before I was seduced by the sea of glowing four- and five-star reviews for this book: If you liked the first book, THE THIEF, the sequel, QUEEN OF ATTOLIA, is going to depress and anger you, and KING OF ATTOLIA is going to bore and frustrate you. There, I said it.

THE THIEF was one of my childhood favorites. I read it in middle school and really enjoyed it-- it stayed on my childhood bookshelf for years before I finally got rid of it in favor of other books, but it was a story I never forgot. All of these stories are set in a fantasy world inspired by Ancient Greece, where the gods interact with and look over their charges, but tend to take a light hand in favor of letting the mortals figure out things for themselves-- even at the cost of their suffering (read: see QUEEN OF ATTOLIA).

THE THIEF is narrated in first person and I loved Gen's voice, which made QUEEN OF ATTOLIA somewhat of a disappointment because it's narrated in third person-- and Megan Whalen Turner decides to torture the everloving hell out of her poor character, in a way that wouldn't have felt out of place in a Game of Thrones episode. I was honestly shocked, because even though there is violence and intrigue in the first book, it's pretty mild, whereas tonally and contextually, the sequel seems much older in terms of the age group it's targeting. This is not really made clear, and thank goodness somebody warned me.

In KING OF ATTOLIA, the reader is removed yet another step from Gen. Now the narration (still in third person, blast it) is from a guard named Costis, who is loyal to the queen of Attolia but ends up serving the king by marriage. Costis has a lot of scorn for the king at first and undermines him at every turn with resentment. But gradually, he comes to realize that the king isn't the usurping fool he imagined; in fact, he might be worse-- a blend of compassion and danger that makes him infinitely lethal and foolish to underestimate. That is really the only saving grace of this book-- the twists. There's always a great twist at the end of one of these books that just completely turns everything on its head.

So, I'm a little torn on what to read this book. It's filled with way too many characters I didn't care about (including the narrator), and takes way too long to get where it's going. Towards the 55% mark, it picks up-- finally-- and the payoff is good but isn't really worth the slog. Plus, I freaking hate the Queen of Attolia still and I think it's quite disgusting how the ship between her and Gen is forced in. I don't buy them as a couple anymore than I did Rhysand and Feyre from the ACoTaR series. I'm sorry, but you can't just ret-con a bunch of abuse and problematic behavior for the sake of your ships and your plot contrivances. I won't buy it, and it's lazy as all get out, and it makes me write reviews with a frown.

If I hadn't already bought the next two books in the series, I would have quit here. But apparently Sophos is in the next book and I like him, so hopefully this means Costis will be left in the dust.

P.S. Hugs and smiles to Erika for BR-ing this series with me. Her reaction to the events in QUEEN OF ATTOLIA made me feel like I was slightly less delusional and I'm so grateful for that.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,586 reviews1,466 followers
August 9, 2015
Buddy Read with some series fanatics at Buddies Books & Baubles

This series isn’t your typical sort of fantasy. Most of the book is more intellectual than actionable in that I spent most of the time trying to figure out the subtle interactions between Eugenides and the Queen of Attolia.

After a few books shown from the PoVs of Eudenidies and The Queens it was interesting that most of this book was shown from the perspective of Costis a member of the Attolian guard. At first I didn’t really understand what the author was doing, but then it made perfect sense. It was a much more interesting story to see how everyone else in Attolia perceived Gen and try to figure out what he was really up to. If we got the story from his perspective then the mystery of it wouldn’t have been half as entertaining. I almost feel bad for Costis caught in whatever game Gen is playing.
“Don’t hang Teleus. But I don’t see how you can hang Costis if you won’t hang his superior officer.”
The queen turned back to face him.
“I could hang you,” she said.
Eugenides looked up at her. “You missed your chance for that,” he said.
The queen lifted a hand to briefly cover her eyes. “It is remarkable how you cloud my otherwise clear vision,” she said. “What is it you propose?”
“I propose that you let me trade him to Teleus. His life in return for Teleus’s good behavior.”

AND LET THE GAMES BEGIN…..The people of Attolia have made sure that Gen does not feel the least bit welcome in their country. Most of the time they like to refer to him as a jumped-up barbarian goatfoot and play little vengeful tricks on him in order to chip away at his resolve and respect. It was so weird to see what they thought of him since we know how deadly he truly is.
The gods above knew that the king could be laid out by a toddler with a toasting fork. What hope had he against an assassin, trained as a sword is sharpened, honed to one purpose, to murder?

I really enjoyed trying to figure out myself what game he was playing and why he was pretending to be so much less than he was. While I was certain there was something up I struggled to put the clues together. Everyone thought that they were getting the best of Eugenides, when he was really maneuvering them to move to the steps of the dance he set in motion.

We get little glimpses of Gen and the Queen together and it made it all the more special to also see those through Costis’s eyes. There aren’t a lot of them as this is not a romance per say but the moments we get really are pretty beautiful and spectacular because there aren’t a lot of them.
“Tell me you won’t cut out my lying tongue, tell me you won’t blind me, you won’t drive red-hot wires into my ears.”
After one moment of gripped immobility, the queen bent to kiss the king lightly on one closed eyelid, then on the other. She said, “I love your eyes.” She kissed him on either cheek, near the small lobe of his ear. “I love your ears, and I love”—she paused as she kissed him gently on the lips—“every single one of your ridiculous lies.”

There are a few moments of action in the book. But for the most part it is a political maneuvering conspiracy and most of the fun was in the revelation of clues and the big reveal of why Eugenides would put up with so much for so long. There was a great sword fight towards the end and I enjoyed the reason behind it and why it finally happened. It was great to see Gen finally figure out his place in Attolia and claim it in true Thief fashion.
Profile Image for Emily.
296 reviews1,527 followers
April 11, 2019
I honestly think these books should be required reading for any aspiring fantasy author. And more than a few published fantasy authors. It's just a masterclass in fantastical storytelling.

This is the third in the Queen's Thief series, and so far it's the strongest. The story is primarily told from the perspective of Costis, an Attolian soldier. In less skilled hands, this switch in perspective could have been disastrous. Instead, in Whalen Turner's more than capable hands, it reinvigorates a series that I didn't even think needed reinvigorating!

Looking back at the series as a whole, I get why Whalen Turner made the choice to distance the reader from Eugenides, who we've followed closely through two previous books. In this installment, Gen feels isolated and alienated. The perspective switch is a smart way to mirror these feelings in the reader without turning them off the book, without making them feel alienated from the book itself . It's just... So good.

And by choosing Costis as our new perspective, Whalen Turner simultaneously expands the world and adds nuance and complexity to the plot. The previous books were focused on the upper echelons of society--kings and queens, courtiers and court advisors. Costis is a solider, and seeing the more intimate details of his world in turn expands the greater world of the Queen's Thief series.

It also adds nuance to what could have easily become a standard formula for Whalen Turner. We know Gen, we love Gen, and it is incredibly fun watching him scheme his way to success. In book two, The Queen's Thief, Whalen Turner subverts our expectations by having Gen fail utterly, fail spectacularly. But how could she possibly do that again in book three?

Enter Costis. By giving the Attolian people a stand-in perspective, suddenly the Attolians aren't just simple antagonists to stand in opposition to Gen. We see their perspective, understand their hesitations and even hatred for Gen. It makes Gen's new challenges all the more complicated, and the story all the more compelling.

I could go on, and on, and on, about these books. The short of it? They are absolutely brilliant.
Profile Image for mich.
647 reviews230 followers
June 24, 2015
Best book in the series alert! Best book in the series alert!

So this is totally the best book in the series so far. Loooooved it.

I don’t know if I’ve ever read a story before that had a romance like this that was so subtle, and yet so freakin complicated. I can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable about the relationship, but at the same time I am deeply moved by it. There’s no way to forget the past, not for these two, not with the harsh reminder they must live with every day -- but the way they do live with it touched me and had me rooting for them with all my heart.

Introducing a new POV through guardsman Costis was a brilliant move on Turner’s part. We as readers already know what to expect from Eugenides , so watching the story unfold through this new character’s eyes was a treat and it was great seeing how his perspective of Gen changed throughout the book.

My favorite part:

“You drop your point in third.”

Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,605 followers
July 21, 2021
So fabulous. I absolutely love Turner's characters. Love them. And I think this book is the most brilliant of the trilogy. Each of them has a twist at the end, but really this one was the best. I wanted to hold it to my heart and sigh at its perfection when I finished it. And, oddly enough, I thought that I wouldn't like it! It's from the POV of a new character, and I wanted to get back inside Gen's head more. But it turned out better that way, because it made Gen's actions all the more surprising.

Reread 2021: Too true, it's better to be inside Costis' head, to see Gen as the Attolians see him. So freaking great!
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews797 followers
March 16, 2023
 “Why can’t you act like a proper king?”

The most difficult thing about this book was trying to understand why is Eugenides behaving like an idiot all of a sudden.

In King of Attolia we follow our thief and his royal wife through the eyes of Costis, a young member of the Queen’s Guard. Now, Costis is a darling, bless his heart. He is honourable, very straightforward and idealistic (is that how you spell naive?), so you can imagine what kind of a narrator is our guide through the confusing maze of courtly intrigues. We meet this young man when he is awaiting punishment for punching Eugenides in the face. Yes, Costis unabashedly, wholeheartedly, and consequences be damned, hates the guts of the “goatfoot” who tricked Attolia into marrying him.

And to be honest, as we start the book, it is very hard not to share Costis’ derision and lack of respect.

After reading The Thief I had the impression that the Queen’s Thief series will be a light, pleasant, but not too complicated coming-to-age story with a nice hero and not very fast, though exciting, plot. How terribly wrong I was! The Queen of Attolia changed my perspective, and King of Attolia only reinforced it.

The outsider’s view on Gen (and Attolia), allows us to see both of them in an entirely new light, and this change of perspective is particularly rewarding when it comes to the Thief. We had two books already to help us grow a soft spot for him, and so to see Gen bared naked and without the saving grace of any positive bias is so refreshing.

The young soldier has no insight into the schemes and games played by Eugenides and Queen Attolia (nor does the reader, with the latter having an advantage over Costis because we at least already know the Thief’s intelligence and cunning). Contrasting such straightforwardness with Gen’s multilayered guile is extremely entertaining (albeit also a bit aggravating at times). It prevents the reader from making presuppositions, which would result in boredom. Personally, I love to witness the actions of intelligent, cunning protagonists, especially when most of the time, they put on a mask and use deception, which enables them to fool everyone around them. I also love watching the reaction and shock of the other characters when they discover what was truly going on, beyond all the appearances.

The good news is that there are several such moments in the book, and more than once, I snickered when the world turned upside down for this or that member of the royal court. And although this time the scale of events is smaller, as we are limited to the capital of Attolia, there is no shortage of political intrigues, and they seem to be both more complicated and far reaching.

Minuses? Some people may have a problem with the slow development of action, because the book is not filled with spectacular battles, the plot is not dense, and there is virtually no magic (supernatural elements are limited to occasional visits by the gods). The romance might be a downer for others. Also, at this stage, Thief's genius renders the book predictable in the long run.

Still, I was completely stolen by Eugenides. Long may he reign.

Also in the series:

1. The Thief ★★★★☆
2. The Queen of Attolia ★★★★★
4. The Conspiracy of Kings ★★★☆☆
5. Thick as Thieves ★★★☆☆
6. Return of the Thief ★★★☆☆
Profile Image for jade.
52 reviews18 followers
August 19, 2014
An awesome, awesome book!

Sweet revenge. When you have a protagonist so much superior mentally and physically than anyone else, yet was taken as a fool and belittled by everyone, it was the COOLEST thing to see him finally reveal his true self, making everyone realize they'd been played all along. Turner was a genius. Her intelligence and imagination made Eugenides a truly brilliant character. "...if Attolia could look like a queen, then Eugenides was like a god revealed...". Furthermore, Turner made the story that much more interesting by telling it from a third party point of view. The illusion and misconception at the beginning; the subsequent intrigues; and finally the awe, everything was revealed gradually. I was giddy with anticipation reading and guessing Eugenides's maneuvers. I'd had such negative feeling about cutting off Eugenides's hand in the last book that I didn't believe the series and the romantic relationship could recover from that. However, in this book, everything made sense, their relationship flourished. I actually felt Eugenides's losing one hand was essential to the story's perfection. Not many authors could've pulled this off and Turner did it beautifully.

Last but not least, the book is a perfect example of "show, not tell". Nothing was told outright to the readers, everything was observed through other people's eye, yet we still got a clear picture of the characters and felt close to them. It was in turn heartwarming, sweet, and heartbreaking, while the story always absorbing.

A solid, deserving 5-star.
Profile Image for Gavin.
853 reviews387 followers
April 26, 2019
This third instalment in Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series is easily the best yet. I feel like this series is getting better and better as it progresses as Turner seems to have figured out what works and what does not and makes the correct adjustments. This series is an old school coming of age YA fantasy story in many ways but what sets it apart is that the focus tends to be on intrigue and character development rather than flashy action scenes. It also helps that Turner is a clever writer. Scenes that at first glance tend to feel a little throwaway often tend to turn out to be significant set up work for later happenings in the story. It leaves the reader feeling like Turner had the story planned from start to finish and that there is very little waste and padding. The world itself was heavily inspired by Greek mythology.

The story in this one pretty much picked up from where the last book ended. Eugenides is now the King of Attolia. The problem is it is a title and role he never really wanted even if he does recognize the necessity of it and the people of Attolia have good reason to resent him. What we got was a story with a heavy focus on character development and court intrigue. I felt like Turner nailed both so I found this to be a super engaging tale from start to finish.

Structurally I feel like Turner did a lot of clever things that made this story the best in the series so far. The scope was very tight with pretty much all of the action taking place in the palace in Attolia and pretty much all the major characters in the story being members of the Attolian court. There was much less of an epic feel to this instalment of the series than there was in the previous books but surprisingly this turned out to be an advantage as the characters and the court intrigue benefited from being the sole focus of the story. The other really clever thing Turner did in this one was switch the focus away from Gen and Attolia. The pair were still the main characters and the stars of the book but the fact that we saw them from the eyes of Costis, a young Attolian guard, and a few other servants in the court was a master-stroke. It left the motivations of Gen and Attolia a bit of a mystery and also gave us the chance to see both characters from a different perspective and I felt like that really enriched the story and gave it extra depth.

All in all I really enjoyed The King of Attolia and hope the rest of the series delivers this quality of storytelling.

Rating: 4.5 stars. I'm rounding down to 4 stars here on Goodreads but that is mostly because I've been picky lately!

Audio Note: Jeff Woodman is a fantastic narrator.
Profile Image for Claire.
786 reviews93 followers
February 23, 2020
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 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!

Feb 2020 update: reread again, on audio this time, and the narrator is not only outstanding but the way the audiobook version forces me to slow down and catch every detail is *chef's kiss*. My favorite, I think.
Profile Image for Elevetha .
1,740 reviews167 followers
January 31, 2021
Sometimes I just can't even with this series. Gen, Gen, Gen, only the most fully awesome, amazing, charming, sneaky little devil that you can't help but love. (That love that borders on if you were a real person, we would be total besties except only in my mind cause you're way too awesome to hang out with the likes of me. I'd probably end up being something closer to your stalker.) Attolia, whom we are getting lovely emotional growth from. More on her in the future.....
Read the books, I beg of you! The writing is so brilliant. The plot\twist absurdly good. The characters perfectly flawed. Everything about this is wonderful.

I had some trepidations about this one (as did quite a few others). I mean, Costis?? NOT Gen's POV?? What is this trickery? But it ended up being a brilliant move on MWT's part. It gave us an unique perspective of Gen, seeing him as others saw him and not how he saw himself. I wouldn't have this book written any other way. Not even to "see" Gen's thoughts.

So to you, MWT:
Fan Cast:

I actually screamed when I saw this. I can't believe I never even thought of Katie McGrath before!! She's frelling perfect for the role!!

Katie McGrath as Attolia
Aneurin Barnard as Eugenides


The source for this beauty.

Fanmix -

1. The Thief - Attolia
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
601 reviews722 followers
September 27, 2020
Second read: 5⭐️
Every time.


I’m feeling SO DOWN right now.
Why must all good things come to an end? 😣

This series keeps getting better and better with each book and Eugenides just keeps surprising me in ways I never see coming.

Outstanding writing. Intricate political intrigue. A damn fine lead character whose brilliance and cunning ways leaves you wanting more... ughhh!

👏🙌 SO. GOOD!
Profile Image for Helen.
159 reviews68 followers
February 1, 2018

What the hell happened here? This was supposed to become one of my favourite series, and then I read this travesty?? Eating Shredded Wheat is a more exciting experience than reading this, a reality which is even more shocking considering how excited I was to start this book.

I absolutely loved The Queen of Attolia, but unfortunately this instalment had none of its predecessor’s charm. It wasn’t even that similar to the first of the series which at least merited a more solid three stars. There are some similarities between all three, namely they all involve an attempt at a clever plot accompanied by a shocking reveal at the end. The key word here is ‘attempt’. While the second book convincingly pulled off a tightly plotted story, this one most definitely did not. It’s something everyone is aware of when they start a long series; will all the books be able to maintain the same quality or will one full victim to the dreaded middle-book-filler-syndrome? If I was aware of how much this series would fluctuate in quality from the start, I don’t think I would have bothered giving it the time of day at all.

On to the main man of the series, Eugenides. So this guy has always had an unrealistically high sense of perception about the other characters and an alarmingly accurate sense of foresight, you know, of the kind you only ever find in literary characters. However, this book took Gen’s omnipotence to whole new levels, to the extent that it just smacked of lazy writing. Indeed, his entire characterisation was insufferable in so many ways. All the traits that I had found so endearing in the previous novels were taken way too far in this one. This probably wasn’t helped by the fact that the story shifts from Gen’s perspective to the perspective of the most boring, unimportant soldier the author could have possibly come up with. It was like she was trying to bore me? The soldier literally has no personality but we are now forced to follow him around all day. Every. Single. Day. Even if my life depended on it, I still wouldn’t be able to recall this dude’s name. Not only was this incredibly boring, but it also meant that we didn’t get any scenes of Attolia and Gen alone and this is the one thing I was looking forward to most after the ending of book two. It was frustrating to say the least and made me want to demand my money back, having naturally assumed when I purchased this book that because the title was The King of Attolia it would be from the perspective of the King of Attolia. It should be renamed random solider number 5 you won’t give two shits about.

Despite being longer than the second book, this one covered a fraction of the plot so no wonder it was always a struggle to pick it back again. Ultimately, I felt as if nothing had really changed across the course of the novel. Attolia was in pretty much the same position at the start of the book as it was by the end, and this whole book felt pointless. The fact that I still gave this three stars is a testament to how much I admired the author’s plotting in the previous book, because, honestly, even three stars is erring on the generous here.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
August 1, 2015
This is my favorite book in one of my favorite fantasy series. It starts out a little bit slow, although it's fun watching for all the clues in the text that I missed the first time I read it. But the second half of this book: it is completely made of awesome. I love every single page of it.

Full review to come, after it's posted on www.fantasyliterature.com.

July 2015 reread with the Buddies Books and Baubles group.

Prior review:
This book is just so brilliant and well plotted. I've noticed that of all the books on my "Favorites" list, this one has the highest overall average rating, and it's for a very good reason. I can't think of anyone I know who wouldn't enjoy this book and its plot twists.

Presumably if you're reading this review you've already read (or are thinking of reading) the first book in the series, The Thief, which is also a wonderful book, though I found it a little slower than this one. You really do need to read The Thief and The Queen of Attolia to understand and appreciate The King of Attolia, though. Personally I didn't like the 2nd book in the series (or the 4th, for that matter) nearly as well as the 1st and 3rd, but they're all worthy books. So go plow through the 2nd book, if only so you can get to this 3rd one in the series. It should not be missed.
Profile Image for Darcey.
912 reviews188 followers
May 1, 2022
UPDATE 5/2022: I’m just incredibly obsessed with this couple and I continually reread their sections, so I decided this deserved a boost to 5 star famedom.


The romance in this book? Exceptional. I loved it. The King of Attolia thrilled me and was definitely the best book in the series. I loved everything in this book, from the political intrigue to the romance and swordplay and trickery. Thanks MWT!
Profile Image for Tandie.
1,467 reviews215 followers
November 11, 2020
Buddy read with my girls at Buddies, Books, & Baubles.

I kept putting off starting this one. I think it was because I just couldn't warm to Attolia, at all, so I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this book. I'm so happy that I was dead WRONG!
I was hooked my the second chapter & started binge reading until 3 in the morning.

I couldn't figure Gen's motives for most of the book. I only knew he wanted to be underestimated. I didn't understand what he was doing with Costis beyond securing the Captain of the Guard. I mean, it didn't earn him any loyalty. I was in the dark about Attolia & Gen, what was going on?

I LOVE BEING KEPT GUESSING! This is my most favoritest book evah in The Queen's Thief series. Excellent plotting and storytelling. I put these books on both my middle grade and young adult shelves, it's hard to believe they're classified as middle grade. Megan Whalen Turner made it onto my favorite authors shelf, that woman can write!

I very highly recommend this series. Most of my GR friends rated the first book lower than the rest. I was opposite, I rated the second book slightly lower because Attolia was hard for me to appreciate. I still feel a bit like I don't know her. Gen is such an excellent, intriguing character, he could carry the series alone if he had to. I think I'd probably laugh harder at his antics if I reread the first book, The Thief, knowing his secrets. When he gets his master-thief-mojo on, he's stinkin' incredible! His grandfather was not wrong when he said that a thief's greatest weapon is his mind!

I want to know if Sophos is alright. I loved him in the first book and really want him and Eddis to make each other happy. Please, don't let him be dead.
Profile Image for Lightreads.
641 reviews520 followers
March 27, 2010
Okay, this book. It snuck up on me with all its cleverness and wit and romance while I wasn't paying attention, and suddenly I’m having a full-body moment of squee flail, like you do. Which would have been fine if I hadn’t been moving very fast on a treadmill at the time. Things got a bit hairy for a second there.

This book is like – and I’m just going to say ‘no really’ preemptively here – this book is kind of like Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles if they were little young adult fantasies. No really! It’s the quality of ruthlessness to self that they prize in their hero, who will use his history, his known character flaws, his disability in service to his political ends. They’re not particularly alike in any other respect, but there’s some fundamental accord there.

Anyway. I think the best word for this book is indulgent. But in the good way where you’re grinning the whole time, and maybe wriggling a bit, and it’s not actually so much about suspending disbelief anymore as meeting the books halfway because this you will indulge. This pushed my buttons so hard with its outsider POV on a beloved character, and its story of personal reconciliation to political power (I, uh, have a thing for that as I’m sure absolutely no one has noticed *cough*), and its continuing attention to the aftermath of violence.

Profile Image for Kristen.
167 reviews77 followers
August 3, 2015
4/5 Stars

Sometimes, if you want to change a man’s mind, you change the mind of the man next to him first.”

The Skinny:
Gen has gotten what he ‘wanted’; he is now the King of Attolia. It quickly becomes evident that while Gen got something he desired, that something was not to rule a Kingdom of people. Thrown into a life where the majority of his subjects despise him, Gen must try to come into his own. It appears as though Gen is royally sinking in his attempt to rule, but as is always the case with the thief, things are never what they appear.

The Review:
Unlike in The Thief, The King of Attolia is not told from Gen’s point of view. This story focuses primarily on Costis, a member of the Attolian guard. Gen is still very much a part of this story, but Costis really takes center stage. It was interesting to see many of Gen’s interactions and schemes from more of an ‘outsiders’ point of view. I found myself on the edge of my seat, because it was harder to discern what Gen was thinking and what his plans were because I was ‘not in his head’. At times this was also aggravating because I was wondering why the hell he was saying/doing certain things.

Costis, one of the main characters in this book, was not really likable at first. I can attribute this 100% to the fact that he did not like Gen (whatever, people!) I suppose he cannot really be blamed for disliking the king, because Gen acted pretty damn foolish for a good portion of the book (always whining, falling asleep during meetings, and such). But as I got to know Costis as a character, he began to grow on me. Where everyone else took Gen’s silly behavior at face value, Costis began to see the gaps. By the end, Costis was unflinchingly loyal to the king and he had redeemed himself in my eyes.

Because you’re a jumped-up barbarian goatfoot who abducted the Queen of Attolia and forced her to accept you as a husband and you have no right to be king, was Costis’s thought. Aloud, he said, “I don’t know, Your Majesty.”

Gen, ohhhh Gen. Like I stated previously, Gen frustrated me in this novel. At times I was left wondering why he was acting like such a dunce. Without giving too much away – I should have realized that Gen always has something up his sleeve (I SWEAR I’m not making a handless joke…*wink*).

The true beauty of this story, besides the twists and turns which are always top-notch, is the evolution of the relationships between characters. There is a huge change in the relationship between Costis and Gen. It was such a slow transformation between the two, that I can’t exactly say what the actual turning point was. I just know that it was very fulfilling to see the pair go from hatred to something else. There was also a deepening marriage between Attolia and Gen. Their relationship might go down as one of my favorite romances because of the simple understanding they created between one another. Attolia understood Gen and he got her. I don’t really know how else to describe it. Lastly, the development of Gen’s subejcts feelings towards him was drawn out, yet amazing. I wanted to laugh at all of them by the end of the story. How could they have doubted the beloved Gen?!

It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen’s shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day.

This is a definite thinker of a book. Little things that appear inconsequential at first, end up leading to, or being, bigger things. While not full of fast-paced action, this story holds its own because of the development of the characters and the intricate plot.
Profile Image for Phee.
555 reviews58 followers
May 19, 2022
**Reread 2022 3.5 Stars
I still think this book is good. But I will admit that I didn’t love it as much upon the reread. This was my favourite book in the series but I now think that The Queen of Attolia is better in many ways. I’ll leave my original review below. All I really have to add is that I still love Eugenides all these years later. I’m not looking forward to the next two books as much as I don’t remember them being as good, mainly due to the lack of Eugenides. But I really want to read the last book and finally get some closure on this series and say goodbye to the most beloved Thief. **

Firstly I would like to commend Megan Whalen Turner for making a bold change here in the third book in a series. She introduces a new character, Costis, and has the story told mainly from his perspective. This is a very significant change as if you read pretty much any reviews for the previous two books, you’ll know how much everyone loves the main character of Eugenides. And that’s for good reason.
Why, you may ask would the author do something as bold as change the main POV halfway through as series. And did it pay off?
As to why she did it, I can’t obviously know. What I do know is that it was an incredibly risky move on her part and paid off beautifully. Eugenides is still the focal point of this story and he is constantly on the page. But for the importance of the plot of this one, we are not to see inside his head, therefore no POV.
Personally I really enjoyed Costis and thought him an interesting character with plenty of loyalty for someone he finds worthy. But he is very different from Eugenides.
I think it’s important to note that by now after two books the reader is accustomed to the way in which Eugenides works and manoeuvres. We know that he hides many parts of himself, he is a fantastic actor, can pull of the impossible and has complete faith in himself that he can pull it off. He is also a bratty child at times, although if I’m honest these are the times I love him the most. As I was saying, we know by now that everything he does, he does for a reason. If he makes himself look like a fool, he is doing it for a greater cause than you may guess, after all he hates to be embarrassed. As we know how he behaves, this new way of narrating the story keeps the character fresh. You get to see Gen through another’s eyes. Someone who doesn’t know what he is like. Someone who is innocent to his manipulation and his games. It really added something to the story because just like Costis, you don’t know the game that Eugenides is playing, only that he is playing one.

Boy you can tell when Phee really likes a book can’t you, I start writing essays. Anyway I loved this book for so many different reasons. But it did, as mentioned earlier, have a few drawbacks. Firstly was the plot. For large portions of the book nothing was happening. It brought the pace down and let book down a little. I can deal with slow books no problem, I was just expecting more action and something big to go down. Which it sort of did, but sort of different. It’s like when you get to the final boss in a video game and all this story and build up has you pumped for an awesome fight and then the boss is super easy. Yeah that’s what it felt like.
Another, somewhat slight issue I had was the lack of the storytelling element that I have loved in the previous books. There was only one instance of that sit down and tell a story in this book. Eugenides was poorly and having a bratty moment demanding someone tell him a story before he goes back to sleep. I wish we had a couple more of those moments but sadly they were lacking.

Also I’d like to add that once again the narrator for the audiobook, Steve West, did a fantastic job. Eugenides wouldn’t be quite the same for me with him. Every sly word and every whine is made more perfect with the narration. Truly a top job.

I think I’ll just leave you with a characters description of Gen which I think sums him up perfectly.

“He whines, he complains, he ducks out of the most obvious responsibility. He is vain, petty, and maddening, but he doesn’t ever quit, ever.
I have never seen him, in the end, lose. He just persists until he comes out ahead. No match is finished for him until he has won. He won’t quit
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,358 reviews454 followers
September 24, 2020
May 22, 2012

Ah. Delightful. What the author manages to do is write a caper story, starring a thief, that's actually about politics, persuasion, and the early days of a marriage. That's pretty remarkable. And a pleasure to read. And there's fighting and assassination attempts, as well as court life, dancing, music, popular songs, and quite a bit about architecture. At least part of my fascination is what it would be like to live with gods actually showing up and performing the odd miracle.

The story is mostly focused on Costis, a decent career soldier in the Queen's guard, young, who gets caught up in the events of the beginning of the king's reign. And while it isn't history, there is much historical basis. Good stuff. I'm quite smitten with Eugenides, not that I would be married to him for anything.

Library copy.
Profile Image for Justine from Novels and Panda.
482 reviews225 followers
April 7, 2019
When the day of my death comes, bury or burn me a copy of this book: so I could enjoy it over and over in the afterlife.


Obviously, there will be minor spoilers! It’s the 3rd Book. I had to talk about and it is very hard not to talk about it. Especially in my emotional condition. And I finished the book, Long hours ago.

When the day of my death comes, bury or burn me a copy of this book: so I could enjoy it over and over in the afterlife. To say that I thoroughly enjoyed this is an understatement! I loved it. I have nothing but praises to sing for this book.


I. Love. The King of Attolia! I do, I really really do! It is so good. I’ll try my best to be very articulate about it. Writing this won’t even do justice how it amazed me so much. I am not trying to oversell the book; it’s really that good. If you read the early books and was not feeling it? You are missing out. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you do now. Add IT.

I thought it would be like any other plot out there. GODS. I AM SO WRONG.


The complexities and intricacies of the story coming together, and the way it was presented to the reader. Phew, my mind, it still amazes me. It was told under the narrative of a young Attolian soldier Costis who had no great respect for the new king. Which is understandably valid if I was in his position too. Serving Her Majesty and then abruptly given a newly crowned king and a Thief nonetheless. With the multiple points of view, it may come across confusing at times–turned up surprisingly good.

With Costis view of the former Thief. The glimpses we see of his new adjusting life as a king, the speculation of his affair with his Queen, all are scrutinized by him. While watching it all under his nose, of course, we get to see the developing character of the Attolian soldier, Costis.

“He didn’t marry you to become king. He became king because he wanted to marry you.”

From The Thief: I had always been in love with the book’s world and characterization like I mentioned in the earlier ones I had the thing with its pace. And now we get that slow burn of development here that I fell to grow in love with. The pace felt more justified for me. Peeking into the growing characters, Gen, Costis, the Queen, the Guard among many others that we’d witness in the previous books. It was such an empowering read. It is sensational.

I get to see the story within the story I liked, there is far more mythology in the world. Not based on the original but created for The Queen’s Thief Series alone. I loved it. The world building gets richer and richer.

Gen is faced off with more, so much more. It pulled my heart that he feels things from his disability, his love, ignorance, what he wants to prove more. He has to work hard to prove he is a worthy king> He has to prove his love for his queen? Is he the man for that job? He struggles with more. Gen, if you’re reading this…


“Are you badly hurt?”
“Hideously,” said the king, without sounding injured at all. “I am disemboweled. My insides may in an instant become my outsides as I stand here before you.”

Turner pulled it off: a multifaceted narration filled with intriguing characters, weaving the political interests, and romance in it. I couldn’t ask for more! To this day I want to smack myself for not getting on with the series immediately after I bought them.

I love that I care about everyone in the series, it’s that addicting. I’d read even the characters whom I despise here dearly. There’s always a catch. There’s always something and someone. What bothers me most is that Gen isn’t the scheming type yet he pulls it all off. And my newly found love for Costis. I get to see the change through his eyes. They both changed each other. I am here for it. I had been nothing but blessed.


I have no doubt the next ones will surprise me more. I am in this for the long haul now. Not because I joined the read-along but because of my love for the series! I 101% recommend the series.

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Profile Image for Liz.
81 reviews21 followers
December 23, 2017
"How can you not know why you hit someone?"
Costis shook his head.
"It must have been something I said. Was that it?"
"I don't know." He knew. [...]
"Then why?" The king badgered plaintively. "Tell me, Costis, why?"
"Because you didn't look like a king," he said. [...]"You have no idea how to look like a king, much less be one. [...] you sit on the throne like...like a printer's apprentice in a wine shop."

And then later...

"The king, looking down at the bedcover, ran his hands across the embroidered cloth and said nothing. [...] He looked up from where he had been carefully smoothing the embroidered cover, and seeing his face, Costis felt the shock like a physical blow. If Attolia could look like a queen, Eugenides was like a god revealed..."

Great series up until now. Eugenides was a very funny character; full of surprises from the first book. This third book shows a more mature Eugenides, his struggle to earn the respect from the people & how he and Attolia learn to be a team.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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