As I mentioned in my review yesterday, as soon as I finished The Queen of Attolia, I immediately started the sequel, this book. I was a little disappointed with the ending of Queen, but I had heard from many other reviewers and bloggers that The King of Attolia was the best installment in the series. So, despite my disappointment with the second book, I went into this one with high hopes.
For the most part, they were met. This book is very good, and I agree that it's the best in the series so far. There will be spoilers in this review, so skip to the end if you haven't read this yet.
Part of my problem with Queen was that I wasn't a fan of the third-person omniscient narrator. I thought Turner did a little too much head-hopping and didn't do so very smoothly, which left me a little frazzled and annoyed at times. In this installment, we still have the third-person narrator, but for the majority of the novel, it's limited to the character of Costis. It does jump to Eugenides and Attolia, and other minor characters from time to time, but when this change in POV happens, it's a lot less slippery than Queen.
The great thing about having the POV mostly anchored on Costis is that he has a very different perspective on Eugenides than we have. He absolutely hates Gen, and for the most part, finds him absolutely useless. We as readers know that Gen isn't like this, and that he's actually very clever and probably has something up his sleeve with his negligent behavior (and he does, of course), but it's awesome watching Costis discover this for himself, and to find himself, reluctantly at first, admiring and respecting Gen.
Another great aspect of this book's plot is the romance between Gen and Attolia. I'm a little shocked to be saying this, especially since I was so peeved with Gen's admission of love to Attolia in Queen, but watching the interactions between these two has really changed my mind. I'm STILL peeved at that part in Queen though; it was still from left-field, for me. BUT, Turner definitely made up for it by how she developed this sudden romance between this unlikely couple in this book. You can definitely see that these two have feelings for each other, and because we get to see them DO things for each other, and BE together, it feels a lot less jarring than in Queen, when one of the only interactions the two had together was Attolia cutting Gen's hand off.
Overall, this is a much more quiet book than either The Thief or Queen. There's still some political intrigue, but for the most part, the plot stays within the walls of Attolia's castle as we watch Gen slowly gain respect at his court and eliminate his enemies within it. However, when I say "quiet", I don't mean "sluggish" or "slow". It's a very, VERY good story, and I find that I've become very attached to the characters that were presented in the first two volumes. I also found myself really liking Costis; he has good reason to dislike his king at first, but he's not stupid, and he comes to see a completely different side to Gen that very others get to see. Watching that relationship between the two of them was a delight to read about.
Final Verdict: I can see why so many people considered this installment in the Queen's Thief series to be the strongest; it's really a very good book. The POV was a lot more grounded in this book than in it's predecessor, which was a great improvement for me. Also, the use of the POV from Costis' perspective was a great tool and was used to its full effect here, as it presented a completely different perspective on Eugenides, but Turner had enough faith in her readers to realize that the picture Costis was painting of Eugenides was obviously more than met the eye. Like its predecessors, the writing is strong, and simple enough for middle graders, but mature enough that adults can appreciate it as well. I really can't wait to read A Conspiracy of Kings, which just came out in paperback and I'm going to be buying very, very soon.