October 04, 2010

Book Blurbs of September, Part I: Megan Whelan Turner

I swear these are going to be shorter writeups this time. Just this batch and maybe a couple more, until I'm caught up on reviewing library books. I'm short on time lately, so I've decided to set myself a challenge of three sentences per book: two that include my take on what it's about, and one sentence of evaluation. Verdict. Opinion. Whatever. So here goes. All of these books were checked out at the Stanislaus County Library.

The Thief by Megan Whelan Turner is the story of a practiced, boastful thief named Gen, recently released from prison into the custody of the King's Magus and forced to help him steal a treasure from the neighboring kingdom, perhaps right under the very noses of the gods themselves. The imaginary setting calls to mind the ancient Mediterranean, and the backdrop to Gen's story of adventure is one of complex and shifting political intrigue. Though Gen was an unreliable narrator and that was a little off-putting at times, because it created distance between the reader and the story even though it was told in first person, the tradeoff is found in each successive intriguing revelation about the mysterious Gen and his traveling companions.

Buy The Thief from an independent bookstore near you!

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whelan Turner is the second book in the trilogy following the story of Gen; named for Eugenides, the god of thieves, Gen really comes into his own in this novel with respect to his cunning deceitfulness and political machinations, and his character is developed a bit more deeply. Gen, who is the Queen of Eddis's Thief, embarks on a strategy to prevent war with neighboring Attolia by bringing the two queens together, pitting his loyalty and familial bond with his Queen against his complex feelings of both fear and love for the Attolian Queen. This novel is even more about strategy and political intrigue than the first book, and is sure to appeal to readers who prefer their fantasy to be more realistic than magical.

Buy The Queen of Attolia from an independent bookstore near you!

The King of Attolia by Megan Whelan Turner, the third and final volume of the trilogy, is still the story of Eugenides, but it's told through the eyes of a humble guard in the ranks of the Queen of Attolia's army. Like most of his fellow soldiers and guardsmen in the castle, Costis resents his new King for being an outsider who has stolen the Queen's heart and her kingdom, but he ends up learning a lot more about the King AND the Queen than he bargained for when he ends up in the direct service of the King himself. This was my favorite book of the three—the author did an excellent job of showing Gen through the eyes of another character without compromising the importance or the enjoyment of either character's story.

Buy The King of Attolia from an independent bookstore near you!


tanita davis said...

:) Trying to catch up before Cybils, I get on reading jags like this, too. My write-ups will be shorter than yours - in the realm of BOOKMARKS.

Charlotte said...

King of Attolia is my favorite book of the series, by far--which makes it tricky to recommend them. I liked the Thief just fine, thought Queen was an excellent book, but LOVE King! But you have to get people to start with Thief....

aquafortis said...

Tanita: Yes, I limited myself to three sentences but they still ended up being LONG sentences...

Charlotte: I agree--the writing in KING really sings, to me, and it was just so absorbing. I enjoyed the other two, and they provide necessary parts of the story, but KING was the standout book for sure. :)