The King of Attolia
by Megan Whalen Turner
In this third book in the series centering on young Gen, we find out what happens next after The Thief
of Eddis steals the heart and hand of The Queen of Attolia
. After falling madly in love with the first two books, I waited with bated breath for the book to be released (in paperback, anyway). And now my waiting is over! Hooray!
Before I tell you anything about this book, let me just say: This has become one of my very favorite series. I hope and expect there will be more to come on the exploits of Gen. Every page of these books is filled with pleasures, from the razor-sharp dialogue to the delicious palace intrigue. The series inhabits a fantasy world in which ancient Greece and medieval Europe meet, a world in which three small kingdoms on a peninsula are caught between the powers on the Continent and a threat of the Mede Empire, a world where soldiers are equally at home with swords and guns, where spies and assassins lurk, and where the gods sometimes seem to be just out of sight.
Almost as amazing as the authors breadth and depth of imagination is the fact that each book in the series, so far, breaks new narrative ground, without giving up an iota of quality. The Thief was Gens first-person account. The Queen of Attolia pulled back to a third-person narrative with a fairly detached point of view. The King of Attolia zooms in again, but on a new character: a soldier of the palace guard, Costis by name. We first find Costis in deep trouble, having lashed out impulsively at an insult to his guard...and punched his newly crowned, one-handed king in the face.
Costis expects to die. He hopes to be hanged, but fears being tortured, fears that his family will lose everything if a conspiracy against the crown is suspected. The next-to-last thing he expects is to become the kings personal guard, sparring-partner, and target for acid remarks. The very last thing Costis expects is to grow to admire, care about, and believe in this new king, who (it becomes more and more clear) has been hiding his true qualities.
But its a dangerous time for young King Gen: the country barons are divided in their loyalty, and a neighboring empire is looking for a weakness to exploit, and the army particularly the palace guard is torn between despising the foppish new king and fearing what may happen if his power begins to rival the queens. Will Attolia become a puppet of Gens native Eddis? Will the king himself be the puppet of a stronger will? While everyone watches and wonders, and while Gen carries on acting ridiculous, traitors and assassins are laying their traps...and slowly, painfully, Costis discovers his own growing loyalty to the king.
This is a book, and a series, that I think deserves not just to be read once or twice for entertainment. I think this one deserves to be kept, shared, discussed, and cherished. It has humor to make you laugh, as well as wit to make you wince; danger enough to make you tremble; tenderness to bring tears to your eyes; moments of hard-won triumph to make you crow with pride; nerve-wracking tension, brain-twisting intrigues, and surprises galore. If you havent discovered Megan Whalen Turners work yet, and if you feel the end of the Harry Potter series is an opportunity to venture forth on a new favorite series, consider this series!
Recommended Age: 13+
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