on April 26, 2000
"The Thief" was notable for the wry humor of its narrator, Gen, who revealed so much about himself while still keeping his story's twist ending in store for the reader. In "The Queen of Attolia," Gen (who prefers to be addressed by his full name, Eugenides, as befits his position as Queen's Thief of Eddis) finds his humor under severe strain as the uneasy political balance between the three countries of Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia finally explodes under the pressure of the encroaching Mede Empire. An ill-fated foray into Attolia's palace loses Eugenides his hand and Eddis' reprisal-war-seems to be the response the Mede Ambassador and his Emperor have been waiting for. Three small countries will either ally or fall, and at the moment none of them are at all concerned with alliance. "What can a one-handed man steal?" If he's very, very clever, he just might be able to steal peace.
It has to be hard, being the sequel to a Newberry Award-winning book, but "The Queen of Attolia" manages admirably, in part by being different from its predecessor without losing the familiar context of characters and setting. A third-person narrative allows the reader to view the situation from the perspectives of various characters-mostly Eugenides and the Queen of Attolia-but also distances the characters; fortunately, Megan Whalen Turner maintains such detail in her descriptions that many third-person passages feel like first-person narratives. There are changes to deal with in familiar characters as well. The war tests everyone, Eugenides the most: formerly quick-tongued and irrepressible, he responds to his loss by withdrawing into himself, often bitter at what he sees as his failure and the gods that have abandoned him; you miss the adolescent Gen of "The Thief." The magus of Sounis betrays one alliance in hopes of salvaging another. Even the queen of Eddis, as beloved as she is unbeautiful, is not even sure whether or not her actions are as honorable as she first thought them. It's a sure sign that the author is doing a good job when you hurt in sympathy with the characters! But all is not lost: while there's much to endure before peaces comes to Eddis and Eugenides both, there is also a very good story. Turner keeps the tension high and never lets the political intrigue outweigh the interactions between the characters, and there's even a tale of the old gods which serves as a kind of mirror to the action in the latter part of the story. (Also a twist halfway through which changes everything you thought about Eugenides' motives; it works, too.) All in all, like "The Thief," "The Queen of Attolia" is one very good story of a convincing place that never was and people who, fictional or not, truly matter.
on June 15, 2000
"The Queen of Attolia" is a great book. It is true, however that this story is slightly darker/less pleasant than "The Thief," but it is still one of the better books that I have ever read. I find it difficult to write a review on "The Queen of Attolia" because it has so many little twits and such a clever plot that if I am not careful I'll give the story away! However, I strongly urge you to read "The Thief" (the first book in this two-book sequel) before you read this story or else "The Thief's" plot will be totally given away - and after all, the plot IS the story. And, if you liked "The Thief" you will not be let down by this book.
"The Queen of Attolia" continues the drama of Eugenides - Gen - as he steals one thing after another, engages in a war, and makes his usual snide remarks and complaints, which somehow make you like him more than ever. Eugenides struggles with his emotions, fear, love, hate, pain; and he is faced with many decisions and dangers, and involves himself in risky plans and strategies during a war between the countries of Sounis, Eddis, the Mede, and Attolia that keep you gripping the book and wondering what will happen next. A spellbinding tale that has charm, adventure, action, a good plot, and (don't let this put you off!) a little bit of love. Do read this sequel, it's worth it.
on January 23, 2001
Don't read the editorial review of this book at the top of the page! It contains major spoilers.
You definitely need to read "The Thief" before you dive into this book, or it won't make much sense.
This book is darker and more mature than its predecessor. It's still categorized as a young adult novel, but if you had a hard time handling some of the situations or vocabulary in "The Thief", you might want to let this one sit on your shelf for a year or two.
Ms. Turner does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters and the political situations she introduced in the first book. Although it has a satisfying conclusion, things are definitely left open for a third book, which I will certainly be waiting in line to buy.
on July 26, 2000
I read this book (and its prequel, The Thief) to my children as bedtime stories. They are a highly critical audience, but found this book both exciting and intellectually interesting. It is exquisitely well-written. Ms. Turner never makes a false step with her characterizations, or with the plot, and her use of language is far above the quality of that usually found in children's literature. We found ourselves discussing the book during the day, thinking about the motives of one character or another, and picking apart the politics of the four kingdoms involved in her story. I highly recommend this as a book to read to children, as it provides a perfect vehicle for teaching them how to understand literature, not to mention a little psychology! My kids were crestfallen the day we finished the book, and we all hope Ms. Turner will write another!
Though sequel to the best book in the world, The Thief, this book has a much different tone. War, rule, treachery, diplomacy, despair, and hope.
Two kingdoms, Sounis and Attolia, stand on the sides of the mountain kingdom of Eddis. Across the sea lie the ambitious Medes, wanting to end up with those three kingdoms with as little effort as possible.
Sounis no longer has a hold over Eddis (read 'The Thief') to entice the queen to marry him, and the king is anxious to control her kingdom by other means if necessary. Attolia is a tiger ready to pounce, waiting for her chance.
All events are set in motion when Eddis sends her Thief, Eugenides, to spy on Attolia in her own capital. One time too many, and Attolia finally gets her hands on the thief who has eluded her grasp so many times before. She doesn't hang him, but sends him back to Eddis maimed for life.
A one-handed thief isn't use to anyone; that is the way Eugenides feels. Locking himself in his room, he shuns the world around him and ignores the clues to the trouble his kingdom faces that would eventually pull him out of his stupor:
Eddis is furious at what Attolia has done to her cousin, and as retaliation the two kingdoms go to war. Sounis seizes his chance and allies himself with Attolia, Attolia brings in the aid of the Mede and their crafty (and charming) ambassador, and Eddis's only hope lies in the Thief.
Quote: "Steal peace, Eugenides. Steal me some time."
Eugenides is growing from a boy to a man, but his wit still remains. The twists and turns and smooth curves will delight you, and you will cry and laugh with the clever Thief.
The political intrigue will keep you on your toes, the characters will engross you: it will be hard to put the book down, and once you do you are anxious to pick it back up.
A delightful story in whole, but even once you know the ending you will be able to read the book again (and again) for the beauty of each individual part.
on July 22, 2015
I liked The Thief it was a solid 3 star read, it took a little while to get into but the ending was very solid. The Queen of Attolia though….well let’s just say that it had some very unexpected and crazy surprises in store for me. It was so much better than the first book with complex characters and more than one twist I wasn’t expecting. I really love it when a book blindsides me with something that I never saw coming and there were exactly 3 instances in this book where I had no clue ‘that’ was going to happen until the bomb dropped.
This series might seem to read a little slower than some other fantasy novels because a lot of the tension and build up is political intrigue and posturing. It is about cunning and sneakiness, who is telling the truth, who is lying and is everything what it seems or something else entirely. I like smart dialogue like that where I’m trying to figure out the true motives and intention of all those involved. I had inklings and suspicions of the actions and reactions of all the characters but I never once knew for sure and to me that is extremely entertaining.
The characters and their emotions are complex and intricate. I started this book disliking the Queen of Attolia, shortly into this I despised her, then I grew to maybe feel some empathy for her, to finally possibly understanding her and perhaps maybe now I have an smidgen of like happening for her. It was an emotional journey and I can say definitively that I have a healthy respect for her character. She is smart, cunning, manipulative and merciless sometimes. But The Queen of Attolia is a great three dimensional character doing her best to rule a country full of Baron’s who do not want to be ruled by her and she is so alone.
*** --There was a shadow behind the wardrobe, a deeper one at the edge of the window curtains. She sat up against her pillows. She pulled the bedclothes up as far as they would go and suppressed a perverse wish to have her old nurse come to chase away the darkness, perverse because she didn’t know if she wanted the shadows to be empty or not. She sat watching until the day dawned and the shadows lightened and were gone.***
Eugenides totally WOWED me. His growth in this book alone is amazing. He is not just the scheming prankster of a boy he once was. He went through some very traumatic experiences in this book and they have changed him. He is different now, but we the readers get to travel with him through that transformation and it is not always easy. This book is sometimes much darker than the previous installment. Eugenides might have taken a little time to bounce back after his tragedy but he got there with a little nudging.
***”Stop whining. Eugenides said.
“What?” Eddi’s expression shifted from wary to puzzled.
“That was the message. Fe me, alone among mortals, the gods send their messenger to tell me to stop whining. That’ll teach me to go hide in the temple.”***
I had so much fun watching Eugenides get back on his feet and up to his old tricks. Everyone better watch out, he has a new ambition and plan that I think he was willing to go to the grave for.
Eddis is another great character and smart Queen. It is so interesting to compare how similar and different she and Attolia are. Each is ruthless for their people and will do anything for those they care about. They are both smart, cunning and able to see into the true motivations of those around them. But where Attolia is surrounded by people trying to take a kingdom away from her Eddis is surrounded by family, friends and subjects that would protect and keep her in power at any cost. Eddis is allowed to seem softer and kinder because of this but do not let that fool you she is just as ferocious.
***“Magus,” she said from the doorway. “I’d heard that you had come.”
Eugenides swung to look at her. “You started a war in my name without telling me?” he asked.
“You will have to excuse me,” said the queen to the magus as if she hadn’t heard. “I overslept, or I would have greeted you earlier.”
“Are we at war with Attolia?” Eugenides demanded.
“Yes,” said his queen.
“And Sounis?” asked Eugenides.
“Nearly,” said Eddis.***
Being a Queen at war leaves no room for sympathy in most. The battle between the two Queens showed how each used their strengths to maneuver against opponents. I enjoyed the alternating PoVs to get a full picture of the story.
I was happily surprised by the direction this story took and I had a great time trying to figure out who was going to outmaneuver who. I think Eugenides wins in that regard though. I think he could test a monk’s patience and get Gandhi into trouble. I’m really interested in seeing what he will do in his new role for the next book. Barron’s Beware, Eugenides is coming for you is really all I can think of saying on that.
on August 12, 2002
I really liked "The Thief," but was totally unprepared for the depth, cleverness and utterly unsentimental romance of this book. I read it in one night, and through the last half had to keep stopping to yell out "This is SUCH a GREAT book!" (I couldn't help myself!). The best description I can give of it is that it's somewhat like Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy (because of its tone and the excellence of its characterizations) and somewhat like Mary Renault's Alexander books (particularly "The Persian Boy," because of its vivid depictions of both beauty and savagery) -- but it's also unlike anything I've ever read. At heart it's a great romance, one that's not even remotely sappy or flowery, but something hard-won through pain and loss, and saved through one character's capacity for forgiveness and hope. It really isn't a kids' book (well, not suitable for most of the kids I know), being much too subtle and complex, and there are very oblique/implied sexual situations (which would go over most kids' heads anyway). It's a terrific story, totally unexpected, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
on March 16, 2005
At first I thought Eugenides's charm would be lost in this sequel because the narrator's voice switches from first to third person, but after a while, I found that fortunately this is not true. Eugenides's smart remarks are still there, and the author retains her humor throughout the book. (The voice change, by the way, is necessary because this time there are actually two main leads--one of whom is supposed to be feelingless--in the book.)
Like has been said, this is a whole different story from The Thief. There are, however, references to the first book which can be ignored, I guess.
Although this is an awesome book, it is not without faults. First, I find it somewhat unsatisfying that characters are left disappearing throughout the story. This is probably because the focus of the book really is the relationship between Eugenides and Attolia. Events then happen that involve certain people we don't really care about. Next, the explanations/facts in this book don't quite match with the first book's. In the first book, for example, it is pretty clear Eugenides is not interested in Attolia romantically, while in this book he claims to have been in love with her since circa a decade ago. In addition, in the first book Attolia doesn't seem to know Eugenides and Eddis too well while this book says that in fact she and Eddis had been close.
But again, this is still an awesome book that I couldn't put down. I'm looking forward for the author's next book. :D
on October 3, 2015
(This review was originally posted on Goodreads as Shakespearesgirl. This review deals with the content of the book, and not the physical book. This review was not written for any kind of compensation, monetary or otherwise.)
I heard a lot of talk about how this book was better than the first one. I'm not sure I agree. There was certainly more information and a wider point of view in this book, but the third person narration lacked a lot of the quirky and endearing parts of the narration from the first book. I think Turner also has a tendency to tell instead of show, which didn't bother me in this case, but that I did definitely notice.
I can only assume, therefore, that because there is a certain amount of violence, war, and sex in this book that were absent from the first, that is what is meant by "better." Don't misunderstand, I enjoyed the book, and it lived up to it's predecessor, but it felt very distant and impersonal, and I don't think that this was deliberate on the author's part. I was also unimpressed by the rushed feeling the love story had. Two chapters is not enough time, in this case, to establish the basis for a marriage, and I still don't feel like there was a satisfactory resolution to the question of Gen being betrayed by the gods.
In any case, I'll withhold final judgement on the series until I've finished The King of Attolia, at least, and have a better feel for the end point Turner has in mind.
on March 26, 2015
I LOVED the first book, but was kind of disappointed by this one. It focused a lot on the political situation, completely ignoring the actual characters. It felt like I was reading a history book at times. Or that I went to watch an action movie that turned out to be a documentary with a couple of action scenes instead.
I usually stop reading books I don't enjoy, but I liked the characters and plot (what there was of it, anyway) enough to finish the book. I'm still on the fence about getting the third book. I'll have to read the reviews carefully before I decide.
I think Sherwood Smith's books are good examples of well-written fantasy books with a lot of political drama and detailed world-building, but still driven by the characters. Especially her "Inda" series. I really wish this book was more like that, because I love the characters, and the world is interesting. But I want to read a novel, not a history book :/