Our favorite one-handed thief is back in The King of Attolia. Having managed to steal the heart of Attolia’s queen, he is newly crowned king of a kingdom that resents, mocks and underestimates his capabilities. After punching the king in the face and knocking him to the ground, Costis is certain he’s caused the ruin of his family and brought a death sentence on himself. Instead, he finds himself promoted speedily about the ranks to the king’s personal guard. Told from his perspective, this is a story of political intrigue with twists and turns that keeps the reader on his toes just as much as Eugenides keeps poor, confused Costis on his. And just like Costis, we get a front-row view of Eugenides’ schemes to gain power in court and earn respect and his rightful title of Annux in the court’s eyes.
I love this book. It’s always hard for me to decide on a favorite between QoA and KoA. I know a few people who weren’t as crazy about KoA and complained that it was dry because of the court politics and intrigue. I have to say, if KoA is boring, I don’t think I’ll find a book by Megan Whalen Turner to hate! Eugenides has been acting like an adult and has been treated as an adult for some time, but again, I am reminded of how young he actually is – if I do my math correctly, he’s probably about twenty, if that, in KoA. I love to see him maturing and growing into his rightful position of king. And I love the themes of this series which some have dubbed “The Queen’s Thief”: in each book, Eugenides uses his talents as the Thief to, well, steal. In The Thief, we have the theft of Hamiathes Gift. In QoA, we see Gen stealing something more subtle: a queen’s heart and a place in her kingdom. And now, in KoA, we find him stealing, quite adeptly, a kingdom’s loyalties for himself and his queen.
I love, love, love it. Megan Whalen Turner is genius.
And just because, I have to quote a couple favorite sections – I think I have the spine of my copy worn open to some of these parts!
The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen’s shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day…
Phresine, the queen’s senior attendant, watched them from behind the throne as her queen danced like a flame in the wind, and the mercurial king like the weight at the center of the earth…
He looked back. The queen was settling on the edge of the bed, ungainly with hesitation and at the same time exquisite in her grace, like a heron landing in a treetop.
“Then come out,” said the king, helping him, “knowing you’ll never die of a fall unless the god himself drops you.”