Book Review: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Greenwillow

385 pp.

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In The King of Attolia, Eugenides has to figure out how to be king, when all he wanted was the queen. (Unfortunately, the queen and the gods are not letting poor Eugenides off the hook.) The Queen of Attolia’s subjects aren’t very enthused by the idea of Eugenides being their king and proceed to cause him a great deal of grief. The palace staff and even his attendants are harassing him, the nobility is on the very edge of insurrection, and there are conspiracies and assassins everywhere. On top of all that, Eugenides must also get used to being married to the woman he loves, who is also the Woman Who Did Very Bad Things to Him in A Very Public Way. (Eugenides and Irene have an extremely complicated and slightly frightening relationship.)

Our protagonist this time around is a young soldier named Costis who makes the mistake of being extremely rude to Eugenides. And by rude, I mean he punches him. This is of course a very bad treasonous thing to do, but for some reason, Eugenides decides to make Costis his personal assistant instead of having him hanged. Costis wants to follow around behind Eugenides about as much as Eugenides wants to be king, but neither of them are getting out of it.

It’s always interesting to see a character from another person’s viewpoint, and it’s particularly entertaining in this case, because Costis’ lack of information and his interpretation of what he does know is often very funny. As an example, Costis believes that Eugenides kidnapped the queen and somehow pressured her into a marriage. What Costis is conveniently not remembering is the part where the queen killed her first fiancée and then had the next guy who tried to force her into marriage killed. Therefore, it can be safely said that the queen is married to Eugenides because she wants to be. (It takes Costis a while to figure this out. One of the things I like about the book is how the writer uses the characters cultural expectations against them, without making them look too stupid.)

Through the course of the story, Costis slowly gets his opinion changed about Eugenides, and Eugenides manages to get used to his new job (though in typical Eugenides fashion he does this in the most roundabout and sneaky way possible). There are many twists and turns in this book, and no wasted space or scenes. I liked the political intrigue, and the way that Eugenides manages (in a backward sort of way) to win over Costis and the people who are supposed to be working for him. I also liked the interactions between Eugenides and the queen. (I especially liked the parts where we can see that True Love or the nearest approximation thereof does not cure Eugenides of his post-traumatic stress, and likewise, does not cure Irene of being…Irene.)

This was another really great book in the series. Turner writes interesting, complicated characters with wit, sympathy and humor. I enjoyed reading this book a great deal.

   

  

  

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Filed under book, fantasy, Megan Whalen Turner, non-earth, Review: Book, young adult

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