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A Conspiracy of Kings (Queen's Thief) Paperback – February 28, 2017
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Starred Review. Grade 7 Up—Teenaged Sophos is his uncle's heir, but his love of poetry and lack of interest in ruling have caused his father to send him to a remote villa. When it is attacked by the king's enemies, Sophos is sold into slavery, where he begins to mature and develop both physically, from the hard manual labor, and emotionally. He makes the decision to escape slavery and try to resume his place as heir and eventually king of Sounis, traveling to Attolia to try to recruit support from its queen and king, Sophos's friend, Eugenides, the protagonist of The Thief (1996) and The King of Attolia (2006, both HarperCollins). Layers of intrigue follow Sophos as he tries to protect Sounis from various groups of enemies, leading to a surprising twist at the conclusion. Sophos tells his story to an initially unknown audience, but interspersed third-person chapters provide additional perspective. Fans of Turner's earlier books set in the medieval-style kingdoms of Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia will enjoy seeing Eugenides, the magus, and other familiar characters again, while the new protagonist and ample background make A Conspiracy of Kings accessible for new readers as well. This is a well-constructed and intricate tale of action, adventure, and assuming the mantle of leadership.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* Following The Thief, a 1997 Newbery Honor Book, and The King of Attolia, a 2007 Best Book for Young Adults, Turner continues her exquisite series with another rich story that examines peace, power, leadership, and loyalty. After initial, tense prison scenes focused on Eugenides, the king of Attolia, the novel’s viewpoint switches from third to first person, and Sophos, the reluctant king of Sounis who prefers poetry to politics, relates the adventures that precipitated his rise to questionable power. Tutors have drilled Sophos in imaginary attacks, but after he loses his family in a real invasion, he is bereft and goes into hiding as a slave on a nobleman’s estate in order to avoid his sovereign responsibilities. Even though Eugenides’ fans will miss his presence, he continues to pull strings from the sidelines as he joins leaders in high-priced alliances and prepares for an invasion. Turner’s plotting remains deft, and the subtlety with which she balances her characters’ inner and outer worlds will delight both series newcomers and fans, who will be waiting to grab this stand-out, stand-alone adventure, filled with all the expected intrigue and political machinations, from the shelves. Grades 7-10. --Cindy Dobrez --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The Queen of Attolia
The King of Attolia
A Conspiracy of Kings
Thick as Thieves
by Megan Whalen Turner
This is one of those series of books that you really ought to read in order. While each book can and does stand alone, this is a tale that unfolds like a flower, one petal at a time, and you owe it to yourself to let yourself enjoy it the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Take Humpty-Dumpty’s advice. Begin at the beginning, go on to the end, then stop — and then wish that there was more to the tale!
So: Imagine a land that looks like Greece but isn’t, inhabited by a people with Greek sounding names, who worship gods with Greek sounding names, but who have pocket watches, window glass, and flintlocks. They speak a common language, worship common gods, but have divided themselves into three separate states: Sounis, Eddis and Attolia: The queendom* of Eddis is both protected and trapped within its mountainous geography. It is sandwiched between the kingdom of Sounis on one hand, and the queendom of Attolia on the other. The king of Sounis covets Attolia, Eddis, and especially Eddis’ queen. The Queen of Attolia is struggling to keep her throne and her power against the machinations of the large empire of Mede across the sea to the south. Like the wolf at the door, Mede is hungry to get a foothold on their shores by using intrigue and influence to gain control of all three states, and another powerful empire to the north of them is equally determined not to let this happen.
The tale starts with The Thief, whose name is Gen, locked in the palace dungeons of the king of Sounis for being what he is, a thief. It’s a heist tale, suspenseful and exciting; it sets the stage for everything that comes after. By the end of it we have come to understand the where’s and why’s of the story, and have met all the important who’s but one.
The second book continues the career of Gen the thief, and introduces us to the last of the key players, The Queen of Attolia, a woman who must walk a tightrope to stay one step ahead of the machinations of the Mede ambassador who already sees himself as Attolia’s next king. When Gen falls into her clutches, she takes something important from him, but he steals something much more important from her.
In The King of Attolia, the third book, Attolia gets the king it needs but doesn’t want, and in order for Gen the thief to obtain the one thing he wants most, he also has to take what comes with it — which is the last thing he wants
In the fourth book, A Conspiracy of Kings, Sophos, the chief advisor of Sounis’ young apprentice whom we met in The Thief, gets to tell his tale. He is an unwilling hero who has the wit to make the right choices and then somehow find the strength to carry them out. He survives betrayal, slavery, conspiracy, pitched battles and the loss of his mother and sisters. This is the fast-paced, action packed story of how a boy becomes a man, how a man becomes a king, and how the young apprentice Sophos puts the heir of Sounis on his throne.
I suspect that Ms. Turner succumbed to the plea that every story teller hopes to hear, “Just one more story! Please!” That “one more story” is Thick as Thieves. In it, the chief slave of the former Mede ambassador to the court of Attolia tells how Attolia’s king enacted his revenge on both master and slave.
I was lucky that the first three books were already out when I started The Thief. I only had to wait two days for the second and third books to arrive from Amazon. I read them again when the fourth book came out, and have just finished reading them all again now that the fifth book is out. I know at some point I’ll want to read them all again. Yes, they are that good. By the end of the first chapter of The Thief, the characters had stepped off the page and into the miniseries that was playing in my head as I continued reading. As I said at the start of this, do yourself a favor and read the books in order. Just when you think you know how the tale is going to go, the tale takes an unexpected twist. Things are not what they seem, and people are not who you think they are.
Oh, and did I mention the volcano?
*Don’t tell me a queendom isn’t a thing. If a country ruled by a king is a kingdom, then a country ruled by a queen is a queendom. Sit down and hush.
One reviewer asked why Gen was so "greedy". This seems a misreading of his motives which have to do with events foretold for Eddis and the impending conflict between the Medes and Eddis/Sounis/Attolia. Another reviewer found the epistolary style of the early part of the book off putting. I thought so too for the first few pages until the character to whom Sophos was writing became clear. One reviewer thought there was too little Gen. Gen isn't "onstage" in every scene, but I felt his presence continually in the actions and dialogue of the other characters. He remains the linchpin of the story. One reviewer questioned Sophos's intelligence and whether he was an interesting character. I read him as a very interesting character and quite smart, just not in a subtle and guarded "Gen" sort of way. One thing that struck me about Sophos as a character was that Turner was able to portray him as "royal" but in a very different way than Gen or Irene or Helen. By the end of _A Conspiracy of Kings_ I had a much better sense as to what made each of the rulers of Souris, Eddis, and Attolia uniquely suited to rule. This is in part to the different ways in which each has been introduced to the reader. One of the great things about this series is the way that Turner varies the point of view and other elements of the narrative structure while continuing the development of the characters, the plot and the setting. The density of the storytelling (which achieves a kind of paradoxical simplicity)contributes to the density of the story. The last scene of the book is utterly charming.
There are a number of fantasy writers whose books I look forward to reading but few writers whose books I look forward to rereading: Diana Wynne Jones, Patricia McKillip, C.J. Cherryh (for the most part), and Megan Whalen Turner.
Most recent customer reviews
Sophos is not as compelling a storyteller as Gen or Costis. He's too content, doesn't have snappy dialogue, and doesn't have any awesome fight scenes.Read more