Queen’s Thief #3. Author: Megan Whalen Turner.
Eugenides, no stranger to desperate circumstances, has gotten himself into difficulties he can’t get out of. Used to being treated with a certain measure of wariness, if not respect, he suffers the pranks, insults, and intrigue of the Attolian court with dwindling patience. As usual, nothing is as it appears when he rescues a hot-headed young soldier in the Palace Guard.
The point of view progression away from Gen continues. Now we are relegated to a secondary character, circling in Gen’s orbit.
Poor Costis. Really, that’s exactly what he is – even to the readers. He’s quite likable; loyal, brutally honest, possessed of some sense of humor (despite Gen’s opinion), and totally trapped. But he gets only minor character growth, and what plot/arc of his own that he does get also revolves around Gen (coming to understand Gen better, finalizing loyalty to his king).
Eugenides too is trapped. It is his misfortune that the woman he fell in love with is queen, and along with her he must accept the crown. This book is a length of struggle and personal growth for Gen, as he is forced to come to terms with new responsibility. He’s still manipulative (Ouch, Costis) and dangerous (waking up with a knife at your throat is even more alarming when it’s your king), and the moments of irrepressible mischief breaking through are some of my favorite scenes (The queen danced like a flame in the wind, and their mercurial king like the weight at the center of the earth) . Gen hasn’t changed so drastically that we can’t recognize him. But he is, slowly, learning to be more circumspect and perhaps occasionally careful; and he does have a few things to learn about mutual trust and respect from his guardsmen.
It’s incredibly hard to choose a favorite from this series, but if I had to pick just one, I think it would be The King of Attolia. Tellingly, I’ve reread it the most often. The romance between Eugenides and Attolia is not only mostly-out-of-sight and private, but very non conventional; but there are moments throughout the book that give us a glimpse into that private life, and in them I think we see a very strong and interesting relationship. The king and queen are two solitary, secretive and often untrusting figures, both reaching out to each other carefully, both making concessions and offering support to the other in many small personal ways.
Another brilliant, multi-layered book.
Sexual Content: Men gossiping about the king and queen sleeping in separate rooms – “Sand in your sheets is such an aggravation, especially when that’s all that’s in your bed.” / “In the bed beside the baron there was a sleepy murmur, not his wife, thank the gods, his wife would have been awakened by the whispered conversation. / “If the Thief had wanted to be her husband, he would have forced the issue of heirs. He hasn’t, has he?” / “I wanted my mother to have the rest [money]. She might need it.” “In case your father decides he needs a younger wife. I understand. / Brief kissing.
Language: 9 d***, 5 hell, 5 derogatory terms
Violence: One man punches another. One man threatens another with a knife to his throat. Character hits his sparring partner in the eye with a wooden sword. A suspected traitor is tortured – this completely off screen, but some of the damage is later shown (broken wrist, bruising, terror.) Assassination attempt, in which the actual attack is not shown (‘it all happened too quickly to process’) but two assassins are killed with their own swords, and the king is left with a fairly deep abdominal wound.
Other: One instance of drunkenness.