I think you should read the The Thief before Queen of Attolia because this book’s world and characters don’t make as much sense without the first book. There’s also one thing that the second book would probably spoil for you in The Thief. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers in my review, but for those who haven’t read The Thief, here is my review of it:
The Premise: The story begins with Eugenides in Attolia again, using his skills as a thief to spy on the Queen of Attolia. Attolia seems to be getting friendly with the ambassador of the Medes Empire, a nation held in check from invading the three countries of Attolia, Eddis and Sounis by treaties with greater nations, but never-the-less, they are a threat. Unfortunately for Gen, he can’t help leaving messages for the Queen to let her know that he was there, which infuriates her and makes her very determined to catch him. This time – she does. It is not long before Eugenides and his homeland are paying for this mistake.
My Thoughts: I had mixed feelings about stepping back from Eugenides in this installment of the series. He’s no longer the narrator, and I miss getting a shot of his wit from his own mouth. On the other hand, with the point of view being in third person, I can see what other characters are up to, especially the Queen of Attolia, and it makes sense to change the point of view when the story is not so much about Eugenides, as it is about the political turmoil ignited by his capture by the Attolians. And don’t get me wrong – Eugenides still feels like the main character. It is just that this time the focus is not always on him.
Luckily, the switch to third person wasn’t a hardship. As long as I had a dose of Eugenides I am happy. And I think part of me was also pretty forewarned. It turns out that I read far more of The Queen of Attolia than I thought I did before I realized it was the second book in a series. I thought I didn’t get past the first chapter, but when I was reading Queen, everything was familiar for the first 175 pages. There were elements of this story that ended up not surprising me, but which I think would be surprising to others – particularly what happens at the start of this book.
It all begins with a shocker, and a good chunk of the first half of this story is characters adjusting to what happened. Things are hard for a little while for certain characters, but there are bigger things going on. Attolia, Eddis and Sounis are embroiled in war, with the Medes Empire looking on with decided interest in the outcome. With such mechanisms going on, there’s quite a bit of plot that deals with the skirmishes between armies. The strategums employed by Eddis and Attolia are particularly fascinating, and I was rooting for one country in particular, but I have to admit that war games aren’t my favorite thing in fiction. Thankfully, while the story does cover the fighting, there’s plenty of focus on individuals to stop me from becoming bored.
Of course the individual I found myself caring most about was Eugenides, and again, he does not disappoint. I loved his role in this story, and how he manages to steal Peace, a man, and a Queen. There also a nice dash of romance in this one, although one character involved in it kept things closer to the vest than I’d fully like, it is a very, very good beginning, and I can’t wait to read the next book.
Overall: A great second installment. The focus is widened beyond Eugenides so that the changes to Sounis, Eddis and Attolia are displayed, but he still stays a central character. He may not be the same carefree boy he was in The Thief, but once you’ve fallen under the spell of Eugenides’ mix of wit and vulnerability, you’re in his corner forever, eager to see what mess he’ll put himself into next, and how he will get out of it. This book is a bit more serious than the last one, but I love where the story went and the romance we glimpse. Here is where I say I can’t wait to read the next one, but I’m already reading it.
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Angieville – positive
The Book Harbinger – positive
Fantasy Cafe – 9/10
Emily and Her Little Pink Notes – 5/5
Presenting Lenore – positive
Monkey Bear Reviews (spoilery) – B+
jmc_books – B+
stella matutina – 4 stars (out of 5)
It’s All About Books – positive
Dear Author – B+
calico_reaction (spoilery) – “Worth the read” with caution
You read it and liked it! *does a happy little dance* This is one of the books that I keep pushing to other readers out there because MWT is brilliant and I don’t think her books get enough attention. There are so many things that I love about this book: the characters, the political intrigue, the plot and how it kept surprising me.
Excellent review, it’s always hard to come up with a spoiler-free review of this book because of what happens at the start but you managed to pull it off. Can’t wait to see what you’ll think of King of Attolia. 😀
Hehe, ah you knew I liked it from my tweets! 😛 I think at the rate I’m going I’ll be done with book 4 soon.. but I’m sort of afraid to go through them all, because MWT seems to take a little while to get each book out. It may have been smarter for me to ration these.
LOL yes, it takes her a couple of years to write her books. I think the gap between The Thief and QoA was ten years. Then six years between QoA and KoA? You can join the LJ community, Sounis, now that you’ve read the books. I’ve gotten a lot of excellent recommendations from that site.
Soo… what I’m getting from this is that it’s taking her less and less time between books? *hopeful look*.
I have joined the Sounis community. 🙂
“you’re in his corner forever” is the perfect way to describe Eugenides. Lol about the rationing! That’s why her books are so brilliant – she doesn’t turn out one each year. I *LOVE* the next two as well. Can’t wait to hear what you think of them. 😀
Yeah, I was warned on twitter by someone who emailed MWT and found out she’s working on book 5 but it always takes her a few years, so no official date.
I’ve been reading the KING and the whole time I’m thinking: ok what is he REALLY up to that Costis is not realizing? — much fun when Costis begins to get it. 😀
I came late to these books too! THIEF sat on my TBR pile for quite a bit, I kept on reading the first chapter and not really getting into the book. And once I actually settled in and started reading, I ordered the next two straightaway.
QUEEN is possibly my favourite out of the four, though KING is a close second.
Too many books, too little time I say. 🙂
I’m loving KING. Trying to decide my favorite.. it may be a little hard to choose one. I have to think about this.
*happysigh* Yes. Yes, you are with me in his corner forever now. There is no one like Gen.
He really is one of your favorites, huh? I am loving the “hero with a sense of humor” trope. Want more of this.
It’s just that he’s smarter than me. And everyone else in his world. And that=awesome. But he’s also so human. And funny. And wily. I love smart, funny, wily humans, you see.
There are so many scenes in KING that just make me gasp.
He’s definitely smarter than everyone in his world (except maybe Attolia 🙂 ). I think at this point I expect him to be tricky, and MWT does drop hints, so I’m not getting surprised that often, but I’m still loving everyone else’s reactions. I just finished King. I think my favorite part is how he gets people to his side, and how everyone somehow becomes sort of exasperated with him. The dialogue when this happens fills me with amusement.
Slow internet *hits computer*
Anyway, I promise to read book 1….soonish…
😀 Looking forward to seeing what you think!
I just finished this one today and I must say: that romance totally took me off guard. I didn’t know where it came from first, but then it made sense after. Interesting.
I can’t help but say “Oh Gen!” every now and then at this book. Is it just me? LOL. I’m starting King of Attolia tomorrow. 🙂
Haha, no it’s not you! It’s hard not to say “Oh Gen!” .. have fun reading KING. I liked it too.
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