A Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner, was published in 2010 by Greenwillow. It is the sequel to The King of Attolia.
Spoilers for the series in general.
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.
So, I didn’t enjoy A Conspiracy of Kings quite as much as I enjoyed the previous three books. I thought the middle, while having some good moments such as Sophos knocking Gen down (quoted below) and the interactions with Gen and Irene, dragged on and took away a bit from the engaging set-up of the first Sophos-narration and the pure awesomeness of the second Sophos-narration. I also thought the book took its time getting to that pure awesomeness and so I spent most of the middle part of the book really impatient. Also, I felt the reveals weren’t quite as good as in the previous books.
Yet the last part of the book is so awesome that it almost makes up for the middle. Seeing Sophos grow and come into his own as king is delightful, and his interactions with Helen, Irene, and Gen are so on point and well-crafted that as soon as I put the book down I wanted to read it again. Turner crafts a fantastic story, and while I want the next book to come out, I also want her to take her time so that the next story is just as fantastic as the four that have come before. But, really, I just want the next book now.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Some small violence, war, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade (but a mature MG)
Sounis knew that his mind sometimes worked like a pig stuck in mud, but at other times conclusions seemed to strike like lightning, one bolt after another. He realized that Eugenides was growing more remote, not less, and almost in the same instant that he would never see any sign of his old friend if all he did was wait patiently for it. If the king of Attolia was more than just his ally, there was one sure way to find out. He stuffed the bread into his mouth and dropped his practice sword. He slid one foot around Eugenides’s ankle, and using both hands, as well as his greater mass, he sent him flying.
It was immensely satisfying. Eugenides crashed into his attendants, who went stumbling in turn, a mass of windmilling arms and falling bodies as they tried to catch the king, who was making no effort to save himself.
I didn’t think A Conspiracy of Kings was quite as good as the first three books, but despite the slow pace of the middle, I still immensely enjoyed the novel as a whole, especially seeing Sophos’s growth, his awesome “I am the king” moment, and his interactions with the still amazing and clever Gen (and Irene!). I am super excited for the next book, and I am hopeful that since it’s been 5 years, there will be information about it soon.
You can buy this here: A Conspiracy of Kings