The Queen of Attolia
by Megan Whalen Turner
Having read The Thief, I started reading this sequel expecting it to be
another nimble, first-person adventure by Gen (a.k.a. Eugenides), the
Queens Thief of Eddis. In the former book, Gen pulled a fast one on the
crowned heads of two kingdoms in order to bring a certain stone to his
cousin and queen a stone that solidified her hold on the throne of
Eddis. How do you follow up on such a caper, and such a perfect book?
Why, with something surprisingly different, of course. The Queen of
Attolia is a third-person novel that, for a good proportion of its
pages, pulls back from the personal affairs of its characters and views
a complex and portentous march of historical events. The characters, in
these passages, are not people so much as nations: the three kingdoms of
Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia, whose delicate balance of peace and security
is upset by a single decision by the titular Queen. And if Gen doesnt
somehow steal peace between at least two of the countries, the nearby
Medean Empire will soon have a foothold and all three kingdoms will be
If the subtlety of the shifting political situation, the fortunes of
war, and the perilous high-wire-walk of diplomacy with the Mede go over
your head, have no fear. For Gen is still, after all, the hero of this
story. Only now, he must come to grips with a shattering, life-changing
loss. He must leave behind his old role as the irreverent, self-reliant
boy-hero and become a grown-up hero of a completely different type. He
must risk more than he has ever risked, including his very soul.
Even with its intervals of zooming out and taking the more panoramic
view passages that you welcome because they relieve the tension a
bit The Queen of Attolia is an increasingly suspenseful and emotionally
powerful book. The closer Gen gets to stealing the seemingly
unstealable, the more you fear for him and for his entire world.
Meanwhile, the two queens that share center-stage with Gen are
contrasting studies in the twin mysteries of ruling power and the female
heart. In the end, this journey into Ms. Turners captivatingly original
ancient-Greek-cum-medieval-Europe fantasy world hinges on a spiritual
truth that touches the root of any and every faith.
The third book in the series, The King of Attolia, is due to be released
in June, 2007. I am intensely looking forward to it. My prediction about
it, based on the first two books in the series, would be that somehow,
Gen must bring a new kind of stability to the third kingdom in the
region, Sounis; and that until he does, the threat of the Mede will not
be relieved. If you just read that and wondered, Huh? Whats he going
on about? then you should read The Thief and this book. Youll see.
Recommended Age: 13+
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