Since first reading The Thief back in May, I've really fallen pretty hard for this series (even if I was a little angry at The Queen of Attolia for its big revelation -- but I've more than come to terms with that). So, I read The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia back in August in preparation for the paperback release of A Conspiracy of Kings. As soon as I had the money, I bought it and it went right on my TBR, to be read after I had got some book club picks out of the way. As soon as I got to this title, I devoured it.
This book does NOT disappoint. I enjoyed every minute of it.
So while the first three books in the series focus primarily on Gen, this book took a noticeable shift and changed the focus to Sophos. I was excited for this shift because I had been curious about what had become of poor little Sophos; it's mentioned in The Queen of Attolia that he's been missing and I was curious to know what had happened to him. This book answers all those questions.
Sophos' story of being captured, sold in slavery and rising again is a riveting one, to say the least. Sophos experiences all kinds of character growth and makes many realizations and makes a lot of hard decisions and I was rooting for him all the way. I was also surprised by heart-warming Sophos' time as a slave made me feel. They may have been slaves, but these were mostly good people, and Sophos was finally somewhere where he could be accepted for what he was, and what he could do (perform poetry) instead of bearing the burden of expectation constantly. Watching him make the decision to go to his father and save him felt like a really hard decision and *I* didn't even know what I wanted/thought Sophos to/should do.
What I liked best about Sophos is his self-deprecation; his character so easily could have been annoying; he starts out as a bit of wuss and he hates shouldering the responsibility of being the heir and being a disappointment to his father, so he could have easily been a whiny/angsty individual, constantly lamenting his less than ideal fate. But he never ever does this. Like I said, he's self-deprecating; he knows that he isn't very kingly or tough, but he's OKAY with that. It's everyone else that isn't, and he does his best to cope with it. I loved him for that.
I think what I loved even more though was the friendship between Gen and Sophos. It started out a little rocky, but we as readers have a pretty good idea as to how Gen operates, so I was positive things were going to work, and of course they did. Watching the two reunite and reignite their friendship was awesome, and watching Gen and Attolia guide and support Sophos made me all warm and fuzzy inside.
The last thing I want to mention is Turner's use of perspective. As usual, Turner has done an amazing job with the narration. The story is divided into sections where Sophos tells his story to Eddis (I never did figure out it was her she was telling his story to until it's revealed to us -- for the longest time I thought it was Gen until I found some instances where that couldn't be the case), and the semi-slippery third-person Turner uses (though it was a lot less slippery in this novel than it was in Queen of Attolia for instance). It just worked really well.
Final Verdict: I love this series to death, and this installment only reinforced those feelings. Like the other installments, this book is about the characters, Sophos in particular, and I loved his story. All the other characters are just as rounded out and developed as ever, and revisiting them was also a delight. The political intrigue that is rife in this series is very present here and is of course well done. I've read somewhere that Turner has two more books in this series planned, though when they'll be released is anyone's guess (she takes awhile to put books out), but I'll be more than happy to read them whenever they do hit the shelves. In he meantime, I'll hopefully find time to re-read these books, because I really really want to. The characters are so subtle, and I'm sure I've missed a lot on my first read-throughs.
Cover Commentary: I love all of these covers. They all have a beautiful painterly quality that I love, and even though we never see their faces, I think they depict the characters really well. The spines also all look really nice on my shelf together. :)