Queen’s Thief #4. Author: Megan Whalen Turner.
Sophos, under the guidance of yet another tutor, practices his swordplay and strategizes escape scenarios should his father’s villa come under attack. How would he save his mother? His sisters? Himself? Could he reach the horses in time? Where would he go? But nothing prepares him for the day armed men, silent as thieves, swarm the villa courtyard ready to kill, to capture, to kidnap. Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears without a trace.
In Attolia, Eugenides, the new and unlikely king, has never stopped wondering what happened to Sophos. Nor has the Queen of Eddis. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.
Across the small peninsula battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Darkening the horizon, the Mede Empire threatens, always, from across the sea. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Sophos, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the Magus and Eddis, sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.
The first time I read A Conspiracy of Kings, I was disappointed. Why, 80% of the book took place without Gen!
After a few rereads, this is still last in favoritism, but my appreciation for it has gone considerably up. Of course it’s different. The first book was considerably more lighthearted, I would say; a youngish thief outwitting authority and surviving unexpected twists and turns to bring his prize home safely. By now, it’s no longer about a simple gem, or even the nebulous prize of fame. It’s about kingship and responsibility and making impossible choices, about when you must bow to the inevitable and when you must defy all possibility to twist fate into victory.
All the difficult character growth we saw forced on Gen in The King of Attolia has come to fruition. He has to make hard choices too, even if we as readers don’t get to see any further behind his facade than Sophos does, and he will do whatever is necessary for his country.
In terms of Sophos, this is practically a bildungsroman. Sophos matures from a somewhat lazy, happy-go-lucky young man into the capable (if still young and somewhat terrified) ruler of a country, and it’s not an easy journey. Death, slavery, and the gods all play their part, and the journey is written not only in his actions – his new confidence, necessary aggression, and self-sacrifice – but even across his face.
Sexual Content: None.
Language: 3 derogatory terms, 1 d***
Violence: MC kills two soldiers (straight stab with a sword) in self defense. MC nearly strangles another character before he’s pulled off him. One character is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Slaver beats a character up to change his appearance, breaking his nose and knocking several teeth loose as well as leaving him first: unconscious, and then: ill/weakened for some time. Slave is beaten for insolence. Two characters knock a man out from behind. Hand-to-hand fighting with knives touched off by an ambush. Character stabs a horse to stop the rider. Two men are thrown out of an inn. One cavalry battle; no graphic description (it’s more telling of tactics than heat-of-battle-pov) but some soldiers are killed. Character shoots one man dead, shoots another in the shoulder. There is a second battle between large troops, again, our point of view is not graphic.