Book: “The King of Attolia” by Megan Whalen Turner
Publishing Info: Greenwillow Books, January 2006
Where Did I Get this Book: the library!
Book Description: 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.
Review: We’re back for some more of Eugendides’ hi-jinks and even more fantasy political drama. After the shake-up with narrative style that came with the previous book (going from a first person narrative from Gen’s perspective in the first book, to a third person POV with multiple characters in the second), I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. How can an author keep her main character so tricky when readers are on to the cons after two books? Well, without spoiling it, Whalen Turner is definitely up to the task!
Our story starts with poor Gen exactly where he never wanted to be: ruling a country. Further, he’s now the King in a land ruled by a clear-headed, hard-handed Queen who rules over a land that was often at odds with his own native Eddis. I very much enjoyed the exploration of this relationship. This is by no means the happy, fluffy, “ever after” story that one is used to seeing after a royal wedding. Gen and Attolia have a complicated relationship, both in regards to their own rather, ahem, strife-ridden history, but also due to the aforementioned political power posturing that comes with a foreigner gaining a position of authority in a new land. Attolia is not the easiest woman to understand, as is made clear in the last book. And Gen plays his own thoughts and feelings close, for all that he seems so lackadaisical about everything. The exploration of this relationship was excellent.
Further, while the third person POV style was kept for this book, we are introduced to a new character, Costis, a guard in Attolia’s court. Costis is our eyes and ears representing both the feelings of many in the land of Attolia after Gen’s ascension to the throne, but also the necessary fop to be conned by Gen’s playacting. And while it is, of course, immensely enjoyable watching Costis’s eyes be opened to the true genius that is Gen, I continue to be impressed by how effectively Whalen Turner can still con the reader, as well. From the last two books, it is clear that Gen is the type of character who would chafe under the restrictions of royal life. This being the case, even I had a hard time knowing what was or was not an act on his part.
Other than Gen’s struggles at court, the larger plot of this story deals with the continued political turmoil going on in this region between the three main power houses: Attolia, Eddis, and the often-aggressive, Sunnis. Between this and the corruption in Attolia’s own court, the book’s plot is mainly political strategy and lighter on the action than both previous books (though after the action-packed “The Thief,” the previous book’s action was also much lighter). With this, the third in the series, it increasingly feels as if the first book stood alone in many ways, both in style, tone, and the type of story it was telling. These last two books seem represent the true direction that Whalen Turner is wanting to take this series. While I very much enjoyed “The Thief,” I’m loving these last two. If you’re looking for a series that doesn’t fall into any of the tropes or familiar storylines that are often present in fantasy series, definitely check out this series!
Rating 9: Excellent. I continue to be impressed with the author’s ability to retain Gen’s “trickiness!”
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