THE KING OF ATTOLIA by Megan Whalen Turner
This is the third in the young adult series that started with THE THIEF.
Eugenides is now married to the Queen of Attolia and is despised and resented by his attendants, the court, the Queen’s Guard, and everyone else in Attolia. The reader, knowing Eugenides a lot better than these characters, waits eagerly for them to find out their mistake. This takes a while as Eugenides has a number of schemes on the go, most of which depend on his being underestimated. He is also extremely reluctant to become King in truth as well as in name, so avoids behaving in a kingly manner. When one of the guards, Costis, is provoked into hitting him, Eugenides, instead of condemning him to death, takes him into his personal service.
Most of the story is told from Costis’ POV, and the change in his view of Eugenides is very well done, although the reader can sympathise with him as he wonders how it is possible to dislike someone yet be so devoted to him at the same time. The glimpses of Eugenides’ often stormy relationship with his wife are brief but significant.
An excellent book. I do hope there are more in the series, which seems likely as a couple of minor plot points are left dangling, and there is still the threat of the Mede invasion.—Margaret
SWORDSPOINT by Ellen Kushner
I re-read SWORDSPOINT to refresh my memory before tackling the sequel, PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD.
I’d forgotten how much I love Kushner’s prose. SWORDSPOINT has one of the best opening scenes ever, beginning with fairytale delicacy (the snow, the single drop of blood) and then turning it around into—not gritty realism, exactly, but more bawdiness and cynicism than you usually get in a fantasy novel. I love Richard and even have a fondness for Alec, though I usually have a very low tolerance for interestingly “wounded” aristocratic woobie-types. (Hmm, that almost describes Felix too…)—Danielle
- See our previous thoughts on SWORDSPOINT here.