6/30/17
THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA
by
Megan Whalen Turner

The Queen of Attolia is the second book in the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. 

Did I say I would review the rest of this series? Yes. Did I say I would do it in a timely fashion..... no. 
I tried to write this without spoilers but I couldn't really think of much to talk about, so beware. I shall be stealing the blurby-whatsit from the back of the book (again).

The short version of this review is that I like this book. It is worth reading on its own, but is much more enjoyable if you have read The Thief



When his small mountainous country goes to war with the powerful nation of Attolia, Eugenides the thief is faced with his greatest challenge. He must steal a man, he must steal a queen, and he must steal peace. 
But his greatest triumph – as well as his greatest loss – can only come if he succeeds in capturing something the Queen of Attolia may have sacrificed long ago. 


Setting

I have already blabbed about how much I like the historical-fantasy-realistic feel of the book, in my review of The Thief. The Queen of Attolia puts you in the middle of a war, which means more details about the placement of cities and fortresses, and the strategic properties thereof. It is all quite interesting, and you can tell that Turner has really thought about where things would be built and why, and what sort of areas would be attacked first etc.. My copy didn't come with a map (I think more recent ones do) but I didn't really feel that I needed one. 

Plot

The plot is satisfyingly (english?) intricate, and well-paced. The military-strategy side of it is very interesting, at least to me. Easy to follow without being simplistic. The power-struggle (sort of) between Eddis, Attolia, and the Mede ambassador (Nahuseresh) was quite clever, and I was nicely confused during the first read. The Eugenides/Attolia thing was....not as good. Gen's side was okay. He found her beautiful, and through watching her realized that she wasn't just a murderous tyrant. But I never really bought her side. She kind of hate/respected him, and cut off his hand. She was cold and unpleasant, though human. All that is okay. I could even see how she could come to like him as a person, but her loving him never made sense to me. Even in the next book (King of Attolia) where you see more of their relationship, it seemed very off to me. It's all very well to laugh about "if I ever betrayed my spouse she would murder me in my sleep" but it doesn't help me like them together. Maybe that's just me. 

Characters

Gen: (stealing my comments from previous book review) I'm very fond of Gen. He is small, grumpy, and sarcastic. Very talented and clever, and kind of annoying (in a good way?). He is very childlike in a lot of ways, but also mature beyond his years. He grows up a lot in this book (not necessarily in the best of ways or under good circumstances) and his genius self really comes out. His plot to steal the queen is amusing. Amusing is probably not the best of words. But I laughed...so.... Clever people amuse me. Gen is very smart, but also young. That really comes out in this book. He is so untouchable, and yet so vulnerable. His love for Attolia is rather adorable, if slightly disturbing. 

Attolia: As a character, I like her. Her coldness, the horrible things she has done, her upbringing. It all fits together and makes sense. Her envy of Eddis's loyal courtiers and loving people. All this I like, but I still do not accept her loving Eugenides. By the next book, it is fine, but I remain unconvinced by her love in The Queen of Attolia. It is so sudden, and so random. Perhaps I balk at a love between two people who have pretty much never spoken to each other. Attolia has never interacted with Gen. She knows basically nothing about him as a person. They have no relationship. At one end of the book, she is severing his hand and sending him back to Eddis, thinking he will probably die from infections and sickness. Then at the other end, she loves him...but nothing really happened between them in that time. 

Nahuseresh: The Mede ambassador, seeking to marry Attolia and gain control over her country. I like him (as a bad guy, not as a person). He ends up failing as a result of pride-induces blindness, but he isn't just portrayed as stupid. On the contrary, he is quite astute, diplomatic, and manipulative. Perfect ambassador material. He is the younger brother of the heir to the Mede empire, which makes him powerful but not powerful enough for his own desire. In this book, his plan is to control first Attolia, then Eddis and Sounis, and make them part of the Mede empire. All very loyal to his emperor, but a big part of his motive is a desire for personal power. If he succeeded, he would rule a decent size country, far enough away from Mede that he wouldn't be completely under his monarch's thumb. 

Objectionable Content

Um. Someone's hand gets chopped off? Is that objectionable? Perhaps for a very young child, that could be disturbing. Oh, there are a few uses of the word 'damn'. That isn't really objectionable, but I believe it is one of those things people expect to be warned about in reviews. 

In Conclusion

While I did not enjoy The Queen of Attolia as much as The Thief, I do like it. It is well written, with good characters and a good storyline. As I mentioned before, it is better read after The Thief, but it does stand on its own just fine. 
 The Author

You can find my other reviews at: writeornotwrite.blogspot.com/reviews

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