The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner, was published in 2006 by Greenwillow. It is the sequel to The Queen of Attolia.
SPOILERS for The Queen of Attolia.
By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making. Attolia’s barons seethe with resentment, the Mede emperor is returning to the attack, and the king is surrounded by the subtle and dangerous intrigue of the Attolian court. When a naïve young guard expresses his contempt for the king in no uncertain terms, he is dragged by Eugenides into the center of the political maelstrom. Like the king, he cannot escape the difficulties he makes for himself. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but he discovers a reluctant sympathy for Eugenides as he watches the newly crowned king struggle against his fate.
Unlike with The Queen of Attolia, I had no problem adjusting to the yet-again different viewpoint because this time I was prepared for it. I also thought it was an excellent strategy on the part of Turner, because now the reader gets to experience Gen’s awesomeness from fresh eyes. We get to see yet again why Gen is The Best and it is just as good a revelation as it was in The Thief and again in The Queen of Attolia. It’s also quite delicious to sit there and smirk at silly Costis for thinking Gen is incompetent, and it’s ultimately heartwarming to see Costis’s gradual change.
This is, so far, my favorite book in the series and it’s all because of all the heartwarming moments between Gen and Irene. It was fabulous to see their relationship after their marriage, and fabulous to see it from an outside point of view. I also like the depiction of an older woman/younger man relationship that is not seen very often in YA. The coolness of the queen in response to Gen’s ridiculousness, while it seems like indifference to those like Costis, instead shows how Irene grounds Gen and serves as his anchor. She responds exactly how she needs to, when she needs to. Also, both Irene and Gen are killer snarkers, and I always love that.
Some of my favorite moments between the two:
–“I love every single one of your ridiculous lies.”
–that dance. With the hairpins.
–“I never took you for a fishwife.”
“Lo, the transforming power of love.”
–“The queen is fine!”
Lest you think my opinion of the book is based solely on my squealing over Gen and Irene (only 90% of it is), some other things I enjoyed were Gen proving himself as king, and even while being incredibly clever and awesome, still making mistakes; and that moment on the balcony with Eugenides the god and Costis’s realization that “The only real thing in the universe had been there on the parapet with the king.” Powerful stuff, that.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Some small violence, war, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade (but a mature MG)
Softly he said, “I thought that being king meant I didn’t have to kill people myself. I see now that was another misconception.”
Teleus and Costis stood like garden statuary.
“Where are my guards, Teleus?” He was still speaking softly. Three men dead and he wasn’t even breathing hard, Costis noted.
“WHERE ARE MY GUARDS?” the king shouted.