Genre: Children’s/Young Adult
POV: 3rd Person
Violence: One disturbing scene
My Grade: B+
I read The Queen of Attolia as part of Keishon’s TBR Challenge. It’s the second book in Megan Whalen Turner’s wonderful series about the thief, Eugenides. I adored its predecessor, The Thief. Although these books are billed as children’s books, I think the series has appeal for a much wider age group.
While I try as far as possible to avoid major spoilers in my reviews, there is an important twist towards the end of The Thief which will be apparent when I describe the basic plot of The Queen of Attolia. If you haven’t yet read The Thief, you might want to skip this review.
The Queen of Attolia takes place a couple of years after the end of The Thief. Eugenides has grown older and more cunning, but he’s about to meet his match. On a spying mission for the Queen of Eddis, Eugenides has crept into the Queen of Attolia’s palace. His mission is to gather information for his monarch but Eugenides can’t resist provoking Attolia by moving her belongings about her room, among other practical jokes. Attolia realizes who is behind these pranks and orders the palace searched. When Eugenides is finally caught and brought before her, Attolia orders him to be hanged. A few choice words from Nahuseresh, the oily ambassador from the Mede Empire, persuade Attolia to change her mind. Instead, she orders Eugenides right hand to be cut off – the traditional punishment for a thief.
By the time an ailing Eugenides returns to Eddis, his queen has declared war on Attolia. At the same time, the country of Eddis is facing an attack from her old enemy, the King of Sounis. After a slow and painful recuperation, Eugenides is determined to prove himself useful to his queen. He succeeds in kidnapping Sounis’s chief advisor, the Magus, and starting a war between Sounis and Attolia. With Attolia and Sounis preoccupied fighting each other, Eddis hopes to gain a little time to prepare for the inevitable war with both her neighbours.
The icy Queen of Attolia, meanwhile, is wracked with guilt for what she did to Eugenides. At first, Attolia is reluctant to acknowledge that what she feels is guilt. She has been used to ruling her country with an iron fist and ruthlessly suppressing any hint of rebellion. Unlike the Queen of Eddis who is beloved by her subjects, the Queen of Attolia is feared by hers. Feeling any sort of affection for another human being is alien to her and Attolia doesn’t like it.
Eugenides has been fascinated by the Queen of Attolia since he was a little boy. When the opportunity presents itself to manoeuvre her into a political alliance through marriage, he doesn’t hesitate to do so.
While The Thief remains my favourite book so far in the series, The Queen of Attolia is a wonderful story. I adored Megan Whalen Turner’s imaginative use of Greek mythology, history and landscape to create a world which is entirely her own.
The highlight of this book was Attolia’s character. She’s ice cold and Machiavellian in her approach to politics. Megan Whalen Turner provided enough background to explain why Attolia is the way she is without rendering her a pathetic character. I wasn’t sure how Megan Whalen Turner could redeem Attolia’s character sufficiently for me to want her to marry Eugenides. By the end of the book, I wasn’t sure they would have a HEA, but I believed they could try. There are several loose ends which will no doubt continue in the next book in the series.
One niggle I had was the vagueness concerning people’s ages. I would guess Eugenides to be in his late teens. The Queen of Eddis is described as being a few years older than him, and the Queen of Attolia is even older than that. So what sort of an age gap do they have? Five years? Ten years? Given my assumption that Eugenides is under twenty years old, I do wonder how he can find lasting happiness with a woman who is probably a decade his senior. I would imagine Megan Whalen Turner will explore their relationship more fully in The King of Attolia, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
Also Reviewed in this Series:
The Thief (1996)
Other Reviews of The Queen of Attolia:
Avid Book Reader – A-
The Book Smugglers – 10 out of 10
Dear Author – B+
Medieval Bookworm – No grade but very positive review
Angieville – No grade but very positive review