The Queen’s Thief Series

I recently reread the series in anticipation of reading the new book (I figured I’d need a refresher). And then I thought I’d update my thoughts on each book. Plus: pretty covers!

The Thief
by Megan Whalen Turner
First sentence: “I didn’t know how long I had been in the king’s prison.”
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Original review (also reread review)
Content: There is some intense moments, and it gets a bit slow for impatient readers (I haven’t been able to convince any of my kids other than M to read these). It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

Quick thoughts: Ah, Gen. Seriously. I adore this one. And it works as a stand alone. Even if you don’t read the rest of the series. Read. This. One.

The Queen of Attolia
By Megan Whalen Turner
First sentence: “He was asleep, but woke at the sound of the key turning in the lock.”
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Original review
Content: There is some graphic(ish) violence and trauma. It’s in the YA section (Grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

Quick thoughts: I think I liked this better this time around. I didn’t remember hardly anything about it, and the trauma happened much earlier than I thought it did. I don’t know if I buy the love story part, but it’s not gushy. It’s very plain, an aside to the actual story — how Eddis can end the war(s) she didn’t mean to start, and how the countries of Attolia and Eddis (and Sounis) can keep the Medes off their shore. It’s a political book, but one in which people are underestimated and use that to their advantage. That said, I found myself unable to put it down.

The King of Attolia
First sentence: “The queen waited.”
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Original review
Content: There is some violence, and it’s long. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

The thing that struck me this time around is that Turner tried to make the reader believe — as the Attolians did — that Gen was a fop and a waste as a king. It really is about Gen coming to accept his role as king — a throwaway line the Eddis ambassador says to the queen: “He didn’t marry you so he could become king. He became king so he could marry you.” While this is Gen’s story, it’s also Costis’s — how his derision of the king (the book opens with Costis punching Gen in the face) turns into loyalty, respect, and love. Turner masterfully gives us just enough information for us to guess at what is going on, without it seeming obvious. It really is a delight rereading these.

A Conspiracy of Kings
by Megan Whalen Turner
First sentence: ““The king of Attolia was passing through his city, on his way to the port to greet ambassadors newly arrived from distant parts of the world.”
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Original review
Content: Like the others, it’s very dense and political. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

I knew this was more Sophos’ story than Gen’s, but I had forgotten how much. The thing is: the plot blurb on the back isn’t correct. It’s 1/3 Sophos’ telling the Queen of Eddis the story of his year after being kidnapped (which happened during the King of Attolia, if I remember right; there’s a brief mention of it in passing), a little more than 1/3 of Sophos being re-acclimated to royal life and the compromise swearing loyalty to Gen as Attolis. And then the last bit is Sophos becoming king in his own right. It’s political and twisty, with lots of machinations and back-handed dealing. And it’s brilliant. Really. I love the subtle details: how the book switched from first person to third person and back. And the small things, like the way Turner uses names. And, at the center of it all, sits Gen, who is wonderful and infuriating, and definitely worth swearing fealty to. I liked this one the first go-around, and I still think the first half of this series is stronger, but I found myself enjoying this one all the more for having read the others in quick succession.

Thick as Thieves
by Megan Whalen Turner
First sentence:  “It was midday and the passageway quiet and cool.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Original review
Content: The main character is an adult, and there is some violence. It’s in the YA section of the bookstore.

This one is the outlier of the series. Gen is really not there for most of it, with the main character being the slave of a former Mede ambassador (back in The Queen of Attolia). He was a minor character there, so it might seem, at first, a bit weird to have a book entirely from his perspective. But. He’s a fascinating character and over the course of the book his relationship with “the Attolian” (from The King of Attolia) grows. It’s an interesting narrative all the way through, but it’s the end that really makes this one worth it.

All this to say, if you haven’t given this series a try, you really should!

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