The King of Attolia (book 3), by Megan Whalen Turner

I strongly suspect that a few people who read my reviews have been waiting for this review for a long time. It’s the third and, viagra so far, malady final book in the Attolia sequence; the first is the Newbery Honor Book The Thief and the second is The Queen of Attolia. Ms. Turner has also written a short story collection, cheap Instead of Three Wishes, and a short story in the first of the Firebirds anthologies. She earned a B.A. in English language and literature from the University of Chicago in 1987, and started publishing shortly thereafter.

I’m afraid that any information would be spoilerish for those who haven’t read this volume, so I’ll cut the plot. Eugenides, formerly the Thief of Eddis, is now the King of Attolia — or at least the husband of the Queen of Attolia. All are convinced that he is foppish, resistant to taking on responsibilities, not in love with the queen, and not very bright, and Costis, a member of the army of Attolia, is no different. One day, he manages to punch the king, and rather than being expelled from the guard, he is assigned to be a personal guard to Eugenides. From then, he becomes involved in the king’s life, and starts to realize that all is not as it seems . . .

The pacing of this book is rather slow; there’s a really long buildup to an intense and awesome payoff. I almost got discouraged in the first 40 pages or so because Eugenides wasn’t around quite enough, but I was still intrigued enough to keep reading. I would definitely say to any potential readers that the book is absolutely worth the slow-ish beginning, and that when one gets further in, one will realize where Ms. Turner is headed. I’m not even sure that ‘slow’ is the right way to describe the beginning; it’s more stately than anything. It moves along at exactly the pace that it should. There are events that happen and are moderately exciting, I should note, but they aren’t whiz-bang-y.

The characters are complex and subtle and multi-layered, much as they were in previous volumes. How can one dislike Eugenides? Costis grows and changes in surprising ways throughout the course of his tale, and the little that we see of Irene (the Queen) also reminds one of how much one loved her in the previous volume. We see a good deal of old characters; Sophos even shows up, although not in person, and the magus appears in a few scenes. Although I perhaps might have wished that we saw more of the characters from the first two volumes, I can absolutely say that this was a much better book for getting tastes of what I wanted, rather than everything.

This story has a significant amount more depth than the other volumes, though. So much is going on behind the scenes, and all is not revealed even at the end. I feel like it will take at least one more reread before I actually can grasp more than just the barest of what happened. That’s not to say that books one and two are very straightforward, but I am still rather in awe of this third volume. Any readers who haven’t read the first two books in the series will most likely not understand much of the political subtlety of the book. Those volumes also come highly recommended, as well.5/5 stars.

4 thoughts on “The King of Attolia (book 3), by Megan Whalen Turner”

  1. I love what Turner did in this book. By making it from Costis’s POV, she brought a lot of freshness and unpredictability to this book. I really hope that Turner continues to write, even if it is not in Gen’s world (although I might be a little sad).

  2. Woot! You read it! Is it not one of the most awesome books ever? 🙂

    I’ve reread it so many times and it’s never got boring-I keep catching things that I missed the first time round.

  3. jmc: AWESOME!! I am SO THERE.

    Bonnie L: I’d pretty much read anything she’ll write.

    RR2: I knew you’d be excited! Yes, it was very, seriously awesome. (Note the 5 stars above.) I need to own a copy (I borrowed my MIL’s) so I can reread it a few times.

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