BLACKPLUME

lover of written words

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

on April 9, 2012

“If I am the pawn of the gods, it is because they know me so well, not because they make my mind up for me.”  

Revenge

When Eugenides (yoo-JEN-ə-deez), the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes’s Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered…she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

…but
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

…at what price?

When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago…

Awards: Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL); Bulletin Blue Ribbon Best of 2000 Award; and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (2011)

Personal Thoughts:

It’s been awhile since I last read the first book of The Queen’s Thief series, The Thief. But today I finally get the chance to get back to the series again by picking up the second installment, The Queen of Attolia. I tried start reading this book last year right after I’m done reading The Thief but when I found out from the few pages of my reading that my favorite character, Eugenides doens’t doing the narration anymore I decided to put it down knowing I will miss Eugenides’ cunning and witty point of view. Which turned out to be a mistake on my part because The Queen of Attolia is better than I expected. In fact much better than the first book.

After stealing Hamiathes’s gift from the previous book, Eugenides is set to do a more difficult task of his career. For those who don’t know, Eugenides is a thief and not an ordinary one as he is a Queen’s thief. He works for the Queen of Eddis who is also his cousin making him part of the royal family of Eddis. Not the typical poor-ragged kind of thief and he also works with his God. Eugenides has a reputation of stealing anything, name it he can steal it. Now his task is no more than ordinary, he needs to steal a man, a Queen and peace for his country and maybe for other countries as well.

The story is more focus on the political situation of the three kingdoms — Eddis, Attolia and Sounis. With the raging war between these three kingdoms, Turner gives us a chance to step to the darker territory of her fantasy world. We are not on a travel adventure anymore like the first book, the game is more intense and the stakes are higher in here. The characters needs to play the game with more wits and skills. And surely they did. They make smart decisions, deceiving moves and risky tactics that keeps me absorbed from start to end. They are smart characters unwitting each others with their daring moves and cleverness. Sometimes I got lost with their decisions questioning their motives and their alliance but in the end they all prove their stand. They surprised me even I already anticipated the twists and turns. Turner surely knows how to surprise her readers of this series. Her storytelling is  brilliantly deceiving as always.

Even the story isn’t told in Eugenides point of view he still remains the main character of the story. The third person point of view doesn’t make him any less than what he is from the previous book. Though I admit, I still missed the liveliness of his talkative narration in The Thief. In this book, Turner shows a different side of Eugenides. His character grows a lot from a young boy who doesn’t take most of the things seriously to being a young man who is willing to sacrifice his own life and happiness for his country. And all those happens without him loosing his snarky, and stubborn side. After the incident that happened to him in the kingdom of Attolia he deals with depressions and fears, and I sympathize for him. But because of that incident he also become more aware of his own vulnerabilities and limitations. He learned to use his other talents and rely on his cleverness. His complexity never failed as he works his way to almost every situation he find himself into.  It is really amazing how Turner developed Eugenides character.

The other characters also gain much more depth as the story focus more on them. Reading the Queens of Eddis and Attolia’s narrations gives more shape to their characters. It is easier to picture them now compare to the previous book. Between the two Queens I am more fond of Queen Eddis than Queen Attolia. I admired Queen Eddis’ leadership skills, war skills and her compassion. She seems the only one who can really understand Eugenides. I like their relationship as cousins which sometimes feels more like a best friends. Her trust to Eugenides cannot be question even to the point of making a blindly decision because of him. And what she did after hearing Eugenides capture is simply daring and admirable though risky.

As for Queen Attolia, well honestly I didn’t like her for the most part of the story especially what she did to Eugenides’ hand. At first I can’t believe it really happened that I have to reread that part until it sinked in to me. That event is really shocking for the first part of the book. I feared for Eugenides everytime he’ll meet Queen Attolia. Even I trust Eugenides I still dreaded his meetup with the Queen. With the Queen Attolia’s ruthless background I can’t forced myself to trust her fully even how much I believe that there is something good in her. Mainly because I am aware that the author is known for her surprising twist and turns in this series and I’m a bit afraid that any moment I will get another shocking event from The Queen of Attolia. But in the end she turned out to be one of the most complex character of the book. She is just a victim of her environment who learned to fight and survive for her country’s sake. I’ve learned to respect her as a Queen, respect her decisions and admire her strength and sacrifices for her kingdom.

Eugenides and Queen Attolia are proofs that Turner can really create multi-dimensional and smart characters. They are much more than what they seem, even their voices are deceiving. I love clever characters like them who managed to pull surprises without being forced or sounding faked.

There are some reoccurring characters too, like the Magus and a few mentioned of King Sounis and his heir Sophos but they aren’t much a big part of the story which makes me missed them especially Sophos. From the ending of the The Thief I did anticipate to see Sophos again in here hoping that the author will weaved a storyline for him and the Queen of Eddis. Though with overflowing interesting plot lines I can’t really ask for more. The story is overflowing already. It is full of intrigue and surprises that keeps me absorbed all through out.

The world building from the surrounding fantasy and mythology were all well developed and rich. The story of God and Goddesses still exist though they don’t play major roles in here compare to the previous book. With the political intrigues, war, and alliance issues the mythological aspect decreased though the faith and beliefs of the characters to their Gods is clearly emphasized in the end.

Loaded with clever and multilayered characters, surprising twist and turns, intense and right paced plot, The Queen of Attolia is an intricate tale of fantasy and adventure. Turner conceived a well executed and thought-provoking story that readers will surely enjoy. This is a much more complex story from the a series that I am beginning to love.

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5 responses to “The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

  1. I’ve heard a little bit about this series of Megan Whalen Turner and I’m glad to know more about this through you. I think there was a time when everyone was just deeply crazy about this series, and I totally missed that time. Will be on the lookout for this one. Thanks for adding this to the AWB Database. 🙂

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    • blackplume says:

      I’m a bit late with the craze too 🙂 Though I’m glad to finally pick up the rest of the series. I just finished the fourth book last night. Now, I’m waiting for the release of the next installment. I hope you get the chance to read this one too. I love to know your opinion.

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  2. I haven’t heard this book before but your review makes me want to grab a copy and read this book. But since it is a series I guess I need to start with The Thief first? Or can I skip that one?

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    • blackplume says:

      Hi Iz,
      Don’t skip The Thief! Read it first so you get the chance to meet the witty side of Eugenides and understand the mythology of the series. The first book also provides the introduction of the fantasy world which is really important for you to familiarize with the settings and historical background.

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  3. […] character really grows a lot from a daring and adventurous boy of The Thief into a haunted man of The Queen of Attolia and now into a worthy leader as a King of Attolia. He never failed to surprised me with his […]

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