{Young Adult] Review – THE KING OF ATTOLIA

2 07 2006

Title: The King of Attolia

by Megan Whelan Turner

Publisher & Imprint: Harper Collins / Greenwillow Books

Pub Date: February 2006

Price: $16.99

ISBN: 0-06-083577-X

Primary audience: lovers of medieval fantasy, fans of intrigue

Notable aspects: plot, characters, strong ending, sensitivity

Review: I have to admit that I’ve not reread The Thief since its original publication, and I’ve never had the opportunity to read The Queen of Attolia.  Even so, I am delighted to report that this sequel needs neither to support it as a splendid book in its own right.  In fact, my lack of knowledge of the characters of the King and the Queen was not dulled in the slightest, because this time around we are seeing them through another’s eyes.
 
Those eyes are those of Costis, one of the Queen’s guards who is biased against the King, who he perceives to be an interloper.  Due to an incident where Costis is disgraced, he is assigned to personal duty to this new King, whom he first despises, then is confused by, with the final result being respect and devotion.
 
The long-term reader of Megan Whalen Turner’s books *knows* that the King and Queen are Gen and Irene, *knows* that they truly love each other despite the courtly games they play.  Costis, and thus the first-time reader of this novel along with him, does *NOT* know these two in the guise of mind-mates.  Seeing the King and Queen through his eyes, and watching the court intrigue unfold and flow around them, makes for a dramatically different story than the usual fantasy tale.
 
This is a very mature story with subtle themes; although traditional “mature” material such as marital relations is not explored here, there is much in the dialogue and descriptions that will go over the heads of younger readers, not because of “inappropriate content”, but because of a lack of life experience.  The dialogue, especially between characters who must speak in code to one another for fear for their lives, is *so* realistic, with so many undercurrents, that it requires multiple readings to truly “get it”. 
 
That being said, this book is a marvelous whirlwind, extremely rich in characters and descriptions, and one that I will not only treasure reading again and again, but which is prompting me to seek out the first two books to see the “other” sides of Gen and Irene.

Reviewer’s name & bookstore: Patty Cryan, Mike’s Comics, Worcester, Massachusetts

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