The King of Attolia
Megan Whalen Turner
It is advisable to read Turner’s series from the beginning, starting with The Thief (1998) and then The Queen of Attolia (2001), as her stories are very closely linked. All three books are good, though I found The King of Attolia the most engaging as it contained a satisfying character arch and the reward of some of the elements she had built up in the previous stories. In the first two books the protagonist is Eugenides, and the tale focuses on his adventures. He is an interesting mix of learning and foolishness, cunning and artlessness, and always a sort of manic energy. In The King of Attolia, the story is primarily told from the point of view of Costis, a young guard who becomes embroiled with the twisted workings of Eugenides’ schemes. This view point works very well because having come to know Eugenides from the first two stories, the reader can see into or through some of the situations that have Costis confused, yet there is a freshness in seeing Eugenides through eyes that do not know him yet.
The plot centers on the layered conspiracies and politics in the court of Attolia and the slow unraveling and reveal as multiple players try to twist and turn things in their own way, only to slowly discover that they are all playing against a better player, in the person of their new King, Eugenides. It is one of those tales that as it is unfolding I was so engrossed in the twists and turns it all seems entirely plausible, yet when I step back from it there is a sense that it is a little too pat, that Eugenides’ cleverness is a little too omniscient. However, I did enjoy the journey very much and look forward to its continuation in A Conspiracy of Kings (2010), though, as it focuses on a different character, it may only have Eugenides in the background.