AUTHOR: Megan Whalen Turner
AUDIENCE: Young adult
NOTE: Because this is Book 2 in a series, if you haven’t read the first book, THE THIEF, then this review will likely spoil some of THE THIEF’s surprises for you. You’ve been warned.
(Click here to read my review of THE THIEF.)
Eugenides is used to stealing whatever he wants and getting away with it, but when he suffers a devastating punishment at the hands of an old enemy, he believes that his days as a thief are over. But war, and the threat of an impending invasion, forces him to reconsider. If he does nothing, everything that he loves will slip away from him forever. Eugenides faces a challenge greater than any before: Not only must he steal peace for his teetering nation, but he must also steal something from the Queen of Attolia that no one—least of all the Queen herself—believes exists anymore.
MY INITIAL REACTION
After I read THE THIEF, I was eager to learn of the continuing adventures of Eugenides. In the first few chapters of THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA, the authoress introduced a twist that I did not see coming at all, and I was pretty convinced that she had ruined the story—and Eugenides—for good. I kept reading, however, out of sheer loyalty to Eugenides.
Lo and behold, Eugenides surprised me (as well as the characters in the story). He rose up out of the ashes of his own dreams and expectations, and waged a fierce war against the enemies of Eddis. He was still a thief, but this time, his prizes were much bigger, and the stakes much higher. I was captivated until the very last sentence.
By the end of the story, yet another twist had been introduced that I was not sure I liked. It seemed so out of character for Eugenides. But when curiosity forced me to read the third book, THE KING OF ATTOLIA, I later decided that it was the most brilliant decision the author had yet made.
Eugenides is back, with all of his wittiness, sarcasm, insight, and brilliance. This time, however, we get to see him at his most vulnerable, and this, far from destroying the reader’s admiration for his character, actually deepens it. Yes, Eugenides sulks and whines and struggles with seemingly insurmountable fears and limitations. But, in the end, we realize that it’s his mind that make him a deadly weapon for Eddis. And Eugenides’ mind is sharper than ever.
The minister of war is one of my favorite characters. Eugenides’ relationship with his father has been strained ever since Eugenides made it clear that he would not be a soldier, as his father wished. However, when Eugenides struggles to regain his lost courage, the minister of war remains a solid, steady presence. The constant friction between the two of them is a transparent concealment for the truth: they respect each other, and they would die for each other.
I enjoyed getting to know Eddis, Eugenides’ cousin and Queen of Eddis. She doesn’t put up with Eugenides’ nonsense, and knows the reach of his potential better than he does. She won’t give up on him, even when he gives up on himself, and she proves herself to be nearly as sharp as he is, in warring for the security of her nation. Their relationship rounds out Eugenides’ character well.
Eugenides once told the Queen of Attolia that, though she was more beautiful, the Queen of Eddis was more kind. This contrast is underscored again and again in THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA, as the Queen of Attolia exhibits the vindictiveness of a cornered tigress. And “cornered” she is, for she is a woman desperately struggling to retain control over her nation, even as the powerful Medes undermine it from the inside. Despite her vicious defense of Attolia, she is also incredibly vulnerable, and she knows it. Her only hope is something that she dares not consider—yet.
The author wrote THE THIEF after she had visited Greece, so, as with the first book, THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA is filled with landscapes, cultures, mythologies, names, and terms that reflect a certain Grecian quality.
Unlike THE THIEF, however, this book is written from the third person perspective. At first, I wanted Eugenides to narrate the story, as before, but I soon realized that the scope of the story required the third person POV because the author needed to move fluidly from one character to the next, in order to show the entirety of the plots and counter-plots.
This is not to say that the more “god’s eye view” of the story saps the story of suspense or surprise. THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA compounds plot twist on plot twist, yet in a way that never seems contrived, but that serves to deepen the suspense.
Magic is not included, but there is an undertone of divine intervention, which, while important to the story, is employed sparingly. The main action is achieved through the human characters’ political maneuverings.
THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA includes pagan deities, the occasional swear word, and some descriptions of graphic violence.
I was afraid that the series would disappoint me in later books, as so many series do. I am happy to report that my fears were in vain; I liked THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA just as much as I liked THE THIEF. Despite the fact that the tone is quite a bit darker that its prequel, THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA offers fascinating plot twists, engaging characters, and entertaining dialogue. I would consider it well worth a reader’s time, and place it among my favorite books.
Excerpt from THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA