on January 25, 2006
I was so excited when I learned that there would be a sequel to 'The Thief' and 'The Queen of Attolia'. I was filled with anticipation for months, and when I finally got my hands on a copy of 'The King of Attolia', I practically devoured the poor book. And I must say, it was well worth the wait.
Megan Whalen Turner writes well, but her style will never be described as poetic or lush. Instead, her prose is matter of fact and to the point, describing settings without trailing on forever, and capturing moods skillfully. She excels at writing believable, humorous dialogue; some of it was so funny that I found myself laughing out loud.
Ms. Turner's plots and characters are what make her books so wonderful. Just as the plot of 'The Queen of Attolia' was very different from the plot of 'The Thief', 'The King of Attolia' possesses new themes and characters, while continuing the main storyline. I have noticed that Ms. Turner is distancing herself from Eugenides with each book: 'The Thief' was from his point of view, 'The Queen of Attolia' was third-person, but often from his point of view, and 'The King of Attolia' is third-person, but from the point of view of his guard, Costis, who is in nearly every scene. This technique makes sense. In 'The King of Attolia', Eugenides is a married man, and deserves some privacy.
The book mainly focuses on how Eugendies is perceived by the Attolians. Nearly all of them despise him. They love their queen, and they think that Eugenides is an undignified, unkingly idiot, who has humiliated Attolia by marrying her. Attolia wants Eugenides to step into his position of kingship, but Eugenides never wanted to be king, only to marry her, and he is digging in his heels and resisting her every effort. His attendents hate him, he is homesick, and, being Eugenides, he hasn't a chance of getting through the entire book (or even the first half of the book) physically and emotionally unscathed.
Most of the story lines are neatly tied up by the end, but, I must warn you, some of them are left dangling, and I am already panting for another installment in the series. I appreciate the way Ms. Turner takes the time to think up unique plots for each of her books, so I will try to wait patiently, but it's already difficult.
I love Ms. Turner's books the most because of the characters.
Costis is interesting and conflicted, but nothing like Eugenides. Though he is in nearly every scene, he is by no means the main character. He serves as the witness through whose eyes the reader views the real main characters: Eugenides and Attolia. He sees more of their private life than most people, but we can only guess at what happens between the two of them when he is not watching. (Intriguing hints about their wedding night are sprinkled here and there, but nothing inappropriate for younger teens/adolescents.)
Eugenides has matured a lot (and suffered a lot) since he first appeared in 'The Thief', but he remains the same marvelous, incorrigible, dangerous young man. His relationship with Attolia is fascinating. He loves her, but she frightens him; she loves him, but he frightens her. They are a surprisingly well-matched couple, and Ms. Turner protrays their complicated relationship beautifully. It's strange, unfathomable, and believable.
I love Eugenides, but I love Attolia as well, and I really enjoyed the closer look at her. She is no spunky warrior queen of fantasy fiction. She is both feminine and tough, and can be both gentle and ruthless. It's what makes her frightening, but it's also a wonderful combination for female character. In no other book have I encountered a woman quite like her. She would do absolutely anything for her country, and most of her people would do absolutely anything for her. She too develops in surprising ways throughout the book, becoming even more human and accessible than she did in 'The Queen of Attolia'. She continues to have a rather unique sense of humor, and threatening Eugenides with bodily harm is (usually) her way of making a joke.
Also, the court of Attolia is very, very different from the court of Eddis, and that was another factor I enjoyed in this book. Attolia and Eddis are both wonderful women, but they rule their kingdoms in completely different ways. If you liked Eddis striding around in trousers, being practical and understated, then you will almost certainly like Attolia sweeping through the halls in beautiful gowns, striking terror into the hearts of her subjects.
To my slight disappointment, Eddis and the magus are only in two scenes, and the minister of war does not appear at all (though he is occasionally discussed). The ambassador of the Mede plays an important role in the story, but does not interact with anyone. Other characters take their places. Teleus, Relius, and Ornon are three secondary characters from earlier books who become complicated and interesting people in their own right.
As soon as I finished 'The King of Attolia', I had to go back to reread my favorite scenes, and there were many. This book is excellent, and I eagerly await more!
on January 30, 2006
I loved The Queen of Attolia, so much so that I was both thrilled and apprehensive when I heard about The King Of Attolia -- thrilled at the prospect of reading more about Eugenides and Attolia, but at the same time apprehensive that it wouldn't live up to the wonderful QoA.
Well, me of little faith. The King of Attolia is even better -- so much so that it felt like a series of little gifts, each more surprising and wondrous and heart-stopping than the next. Turner is now neck-and-neck with Diana Wynne Jones as my favorite writer ever. This book is unbelievably great, and in it, Eugenides becomes a character for the ages, and not just in YA fiction. I don't know if Turner plans to tell more of his story (and Attolia's, and Eddis's, and that of the wonderful Costis), but I wish she would! I want to know if Eugenides fulfills Teleus' prediction -- and I want to know about his and Attolia's children! Surely this is the mark of a great series -- leaving the reader wanting - no, craving -- to know more.
Third in a series of books beginning with 'the Thief', by Megan Whalen Turner.
In 'the Thief', Gen was a witty, nimble thief, always on his toes and ready with a comeback. It seemed nothing could bring his wit or cleverness down.
In 'the Queen of Attolia', Gen lost his right hand, then stole the Queen of Attolia.
Now he is married to her, and has become the King of Attolia. But the troubles are far from over for our clever thief. Made ruler of a land whose people don't trust him, and a court who thinks of him as a joke, Eugenides must face the ambition of the barons, the treachery of the court, the 'harmless' tricks of his attendants, and all those who regard him with disdain, without his friends behind him. He's all alone in the bloodsucking court, with a wife who, in the minds of her people, only married him because she was forced to.
Although the book continues the adventures of the former Thief of Eddis, it focuses mainly on one member of the guard, Costis. In a moment of anger Costis knocks Eugenides over with a punch, putting the squad leader's life at stake. But the king visits him while he's thinking over his fate, and some time later Costis finds himself, relieved of his position, but still alive. Costis is later made a lieutenant of the king's personal guard, an action many regard bitterly. He thinks of it as the king's personal joke, but he may soon realize Eugenides is far from laughing.
Although Costis shares his comrades' opinions about the king, he who stole their queen and couldn't rule to save his life, he finds himself gradually realizing he's been underestimating the clever thief.
'The Thief' was also a children's book; Queen of Attolia left that behind with a spectacular flare of political manipulation plus action; and now King of Attolia sneaks up from behind to offer a clever twist of court intrigue and drama that is exciting as well as enthralling to read. With adequate (but not elongated) descriptions and interesting dialogue, it doesn't get boring and is hard to put down.
This may not be for young children to read, holding some mildly offensive language etc., but I did manage to read it to my 10-year-old sister with relative ease.
I'm not sure, but King of Attolia very well could be better than the two before it, and it definitely ranks high in my list of the best books in the world.
It was worth the long wait, and we can only hope that this will not be the last book Megan Whalen Turner writes about our friend, the King of Attolia.
on January 26, 2006
Gen from The Thief is back, with all his bravado and brilliance; his complaints, manipulations, and hidden kindnesses. But Eugenides has matured in this third book of his adventures. He is now king and husband, although his guards despise him, his attendants mock him, and the queen...well, no one is sure how the queen feels.
Megan Whelan Turner again shows her brilliance by introducing a new character as narrator. Costis is a stoic, ethical and unsophisticated guard who resents the upstart king and believes him weak and inept. Eugenides, as usual, keeps his true nature hidden, while we (readers who know Gen well) gleefully wait for the delicious come-uppance we know will come to all who cross him.
What Ms. Turner does really well is unfold events in a way that require us to interpret the characters' actions, often necessitating a second reading. We must fill in blanks with our own guesses as to the significance of events. At first, the merest glimpses into Eugenides' relationship with the queen leave us wanting more. We begin to see the tenderness between them, and their fears are slowly exposed. He is not ashamed to admit that he is still afraid of his wife for what she has done to him and may yet do. She is afraid, too, not of him, but for him, as he takes unnecessary risks with little care for himself. The queen's character subtly changes as Eugenides' love, and trust in her goodness, help her learn to rule with mercy and wisdom rather than cruelty. Eugenides has changed, too, and is more empathic after his terrible stay in Attolia's dungeon, and when a character is tortured because of his treachery, Eugenides is there to comfort him and ease his recovery.
The gods playfully show their presence, and people who appeared briefly in The Queen of Attolia are fully fleshed out. In typical fashion, no one is quite what he or she seems. As seen through Costis' eyes, Eugenides is almost supernaturally gifted with cleverness and physical agility, and we begin to see a quality of true greatness in him. Although he resists it as long as he can, he is eventually forced into a decision that may change the course of history.
Filled with humor and emotion, this book does not stand on its own quite as well as the first two, but it is wholly satisfying to those of us who have clamored for more. The uncertainty of a much-loved character's fate and the threat of invasion give us hints of more yet to come. The climactic sword-fighting at the end of the book has us cheering for Eugenides, and for his decision. Long live the King of Attolia!
on February 7, 2006
I have been an enthusiastic fan of Megan Whalen Turner's stories about Eugenides since the first page of The Thief. It and The Queen of Attolia demonstrate Turner's keen plots, full-fleshed characters, and delicious control of language. It was exciting to learn that there was to be a third book--with optimism that it could measure up to its predecessors.
There is no need to fear disappointment from this book. Every line was sheer pleasure, but for knowing it brought the end a line nearer. Eugenides and his Queen are written with satisfying complexity and understanding, measuring up to and perhaps surpassing their characters in previous books. Other well-known characters--Sounis' Magus, Eddis, and references to an endangered Sophos--draw away from the fairly intimate main setting of the Attolian court and are welcome reminders of old friends.
The new central character Costis is a genuinely good man whose slow coming around to the king leaves the reader saying, "Yes, NOW you understand why you have to like him; he's GEN." It is particularly interesting to note his and others' views on subjects which the readers have previously experienced through other eyes; for example, one soldier comments that it was probably Eddis' idea that Gen marry Attolia--although we know she was in fact violently oppossed.
For those who prefer the political and personal intrigues of the stories there is also nothing to fear; the same complexity demonstrated in Gen and Attolia is practiced in the plot, which unravels with Turner's trademark precision.
All of my hopes were more than lived up to, and this may very well be my favorite of the three. Not only that, but it simply shouts sequel--so here's hoping a fourth is forthcoming, as soon as possible and as good as this.
on December 3, 2006
How is it humanly possible that the vast majority of the population has never heard of Megan Whalen Turner?? How?? It boggles the mind!! It defies perception!! The people must be told!!
She creates multidimensional worlds and characters that you can't help but love- with the single exception the queen of Attolia. She's just scary, because she's so enigmatic, but I have confidence that we'll see more of her soon. It will just take time, just like sawing through a log with a butterknife takes a while. Anyway, back on to the subject of Turner's brilliance. She blew me away with Queen of Attolia. Every time I reread it, I find some new nuance in the storyline. While The King doesn't quite achieve that level of delicious complexity, it more than earns the five star rating. Even a reader who's new to Gen can appreciate him and his absolute awesomeness, but I recommend that you read the first two prior to this one, because when you know Gen better, you can see into his world and understand him and his issues far better. My only complaint is that it isn't as grand in scale as The Queen, but once you read the ending, it doesn't seem to matter, because you see that The King is just a superb series filler, and that greater things will soon come.
One last thing. I shall simply wither away from pure, uncut misery and boredom if I have to wait for six years for the next book. But, if it just so happens that it does take six years for true quality, take your sweet time Mrs. Turner, because I would rather spend my years withering and waiting for true quality than just having the sequel be a plain old book.
on March 18, 2006
This book is amazing. First of all, I like the fact that it was from someone else's view because you really don't know a person until you can see how they are judged by others. It was so funny listening to Costis' point of view because of the way he reacted to everything. I wanted to shout at him, I wanted to laugh at him; I wanted to cry with him, he was a character that you could instantly connect to. Plus the fact that Costis didn't know Gen as a thief, didn't know him as a person, he just saw a guy who stole the Queen and forced her to marry him. He thinks Gen is a 'jumped-up barbarian goatfoot who has no right to be king' as he says on one of the first pages.
It isn't until about 150 or so pages into the book that Costis really sees Eugenides as more than what he thought. When Costis promised 10 gold cups to a goddess just for Gen's safety, you can see that. We already know Eugenides' character from the first two books, we know how he feels and works and I personally can say that I love his sense of humor, which continued in this book to make me smile and laugh out loud while reading. Gen is one piece of work; he is a mystery that no one can really figure out, not even in the end of book, where he surprises them again.
I personally loved Attolia, (or Irene, which is her real name) she has always been one of my favorite characters because she is like a warrior queen, who never shows any weaknesses. She is a very stubborn person, I have to say, but that aids her character especially when Eugenides comes into the picture because they contrast each other and they help each other to be stronger in every aspect of their life. I was a little disappointed in their relationship because you only see them romantically interact a couple of times, though you know they love each other very much.
I cheered for Eugenides when he shows the court up exactly who he is and is always one step ahead of them. The book showed another side of his character, though, for awhile when Gen refused to take the King position seriously, he wasn't acting like a king and did things that showed his weak side, for Gen is mainly a strong, stubborn and wild character who always seems to slip out of bad situations. I also liked when they showed Attolia (Irene) fainting when Eugenides gets injured badly showing her weak side and how much she cares for him, which she doesn't show a lot.
Overall, this was an amazing book, I was constantly turning the pages as quickly as I could, awaiting the next thing. I don't think I ever was bored with this book, I think you've got to be nuts not to like this book. It is a bit long (though not compared to the Harry Potter Series or other really long 700+ page books) at 400 some pages and took me a couple days to finish it, but it was worth the wait. I would recommend it to anyone who likes long, engrossing books that you can't put down.
on September 18, 2006
... and had to re-read it right away to pick up on all the subtle clues I missed the first time through. (I finally figured out just what Hiero was telling the king about during their meeting, and why it was important). Although it is marketed as a YA book, I hope it receives a wider audience. There are too many good scenes to list them all (the attempted assassination and its immediate aftermath were particularly well done, and I absolutely loved the dance scene. The sparring scene at the end was marvellous, and I wanted to stand up and cheer at its finale. The characters were more well-developed and complex than anything I've read in memory (which is quite a bit, since I'm a librarian). Read the first two books in the series before this one -- they are worth it and will bring you a much richer understanding of the story.
on July 31, 2007
After Megan Whalen Turner's Eugenides series, I have been spoiled for smart fantasy. Starting with the first book, The Thief, I was hooked, and finally struck gold after perusing "children's book" for my fantasy shelf.
The first book was first person, second was third but still focalized through Eugenides. The third takes the reader one more step backwards and shows our favorite thief through the eyes of a guardsman who has no respect for his new king, and slowly realizes the King's true mettle.
Exceptionally fine writing makes this third part a joy to read. As the events are narrated through Costis the guard, every act and word has a double, triple meaning, that clearly unfolds as the book progresses. The story shows us how carefully Eugenides wins over the court of Attolia, with seemingly ridiculous and even buffoonish tricks and ploys, and above all, infinite patience. His relationship with the Queen is touching and wry and one of the most beautiful love stories I've seen in a while, deftly done with none of the tired cliches that send "children" readers running rightfully away from "grownup" romance in their books.
Above all, The King of Attolia is FUNNY. Smart and funny, from Eugenides's machinations, to his conversations with Costis, the Queen, and his gods. The tone of the book is gentle mannerpunk, and as soon as I finished the whole series in an afternoon, I was reading it over again from the beginning.
When a book has made me laugh more than a dozen times from sheer joy, cry over injustice, then right it again so beautifully that it makes me want to read it again and again, I'd say: instant classic.
on June 9, 2006
Every so often, a book comes along, published for young people, that I find myself pressing on all those folk I know who love bokks but don't spend their professional time toiling in the vineyards of children's and teen literature.
This is one of them. Elegantly constructed, doling out information to its readers in small shards, with a captivating hero and heroine and a regular guy/guard, from whose perspective we see most of what goes on.
There are wheels within wheels, glancing insights into truth and falsehood, perception and reality, love and loyalty, but all of this happens in the midst of a completely absorbing story. Wow.