Queen’s Thief #2. Author: Megan Whalen Turner.
When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes’s Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered…she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.
…at what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago…
When was the last time you saw a main character this wounded? Come this close to broken? Not as a one-time, see how the poor brave kid handles his affliction, aaand he found the right girlfriend and they’ll live every after, open-and-closed deal. A real, crippling injury – that they don’t magically recover from or spend a little while struggling with and then apparently ‘get over’ and do everything just as well.
Megan Whalen Turner isn’t pulling punches here. Not for her characters, not for her readers.
It’s stunning, painful, for the reader. Most stunning the first time, but I don’t think it ever gets less painful to reread. But there is so much to appreciate as the book goes on, from Gen’s battle with himself to the new depths revealed in him when slowly, hard-earned, he reaches competence again. The Thief would rather die than be further crippled – quite literally, as he admits in a moment of despair – but for his queen, he will learn to live again. For his queen, he will learn to steal again. One-handed, he’ll steal what no man could take with two.
Now, the ending… I have to admit, I think you do have to read the next book at least for it to make real sense. Even then, nobody but Turner could pull it off.
Sexual Content: Woman deliberately flirts with ally. The queen, being seen on her way to talk to the thief at night, allows rumors to be spread that he and she are in a relationship – “Practically incestuous,” as she comments.
Language: 5 d***, 2 derogatory terms, 1 hell
Violence: Character runs head first into a wooden board, bruising himself badly and nearly breaking his nose. Character is attacked by hunting dogs. Delirious character has to be pinned down to administer a sleeping potion. Multiple empty ships in harbor are blown up. The advance, retreat, and tactics of an ongoing war are described, but from an impersonal distance, and there’s no blood and gore in the description. Woman remembers past, when she poisoned her bridegroom, then shot the next claimant through the heart. One character threatens to drown another. A prisoner in neck-chains is nearly strangled by the prisoner behind him, (this is almost certainly on purpose to save him from torture), before a guard kicks the back prisoner in the head.
Other: Two brief instances of drunkenness. The character in question regrets them.