Eugenides..Eudgenides..how do you even say that name aloud? (I’ve been saying U-Gen-Ne-Dees.)
Anyway, I just finished The Queen of Attolia and by the end of the book I was just… in a trance (possibly because I was reading through it all day). And then, I flipped to the front cover and began ruminating on the significance of the picture. Then, I realized what an idiot I was! I was thinking in my head, “Yeah, this is a great book! But… what does the image on the front cover have to do with it? Why is that lady (whom I was assuming to be Attolia), removing some silvery magical liquid out of a bottle….” I think I was still suffering from the aftermath of watching the midnight screening of HP and re-reading of Half-Blood Prince late into the night. Inadvertently I must have been thinking of the pensieve where you can view people’s memories. I couldn’t face palm myself enough; the “bottle” is not a bottle and the magical quicksilver liquid is not magical quicksilver liquid. It’s a HOOK. It was a revelation to me last night.
So, now that I have shared this painful realization with you, let’s start talking about the actual book shall we? For starters, I am really enjoying Meagan Whalen Turner’s style of writing. She doesn’t describe things excessively, preferring to leave hints and clues through dialogue and the way the characters react and interact. This is just how I like it! Working against these minimal direct-descriptions is the fact that she writes very well, so your eyes just move across the page faster than your brain can actually digest what you’re reading. I re-read some of the parts that I thought were such astounding surprises, and realized that the text was sprinkled with clues. But, you’d have to be very aware of the clues in order to pick out what is actually happening, despite what the characters are saying or doing. It’s all lends to the atmosphere of intrigue.
This story is based around several warring nations: The Medes, The Attolians, The Eddisians and the Sounisians. The fantasy world is sort of based on the ancient civilizations (I’m thinking of the Greeks and the Romans). There are gods and goddess involved with the plights of the mortals, sacrificial rituals, centurions, megarons… but there are also guns and cannons!
And the dialogue! So rife with hidden meanings. Especially from Eugenides. He can be infuriatingly cryptic and tangential. I think part of what makes this story so interesting is that even though the focus point of the story is about Eugenides, you never really know what he’s thinking. He’s a real trickster. One moment, he’s moaning from the pain of his wound in a very private scene, and the next moment someone enters and he throws out a witty remark and gets them while their guard’s down.
I share in Attolia’s frustration at whether or not to trust Gen. He’s a thief after all! But, I think that tension in the relationship is part of what makes the (still unsettled) romance so heart tingling. Especially because Attolia is the last person to trust anyone at all, since she’s grown up having to lead an entire kingdom amidst an environment of corruption and power hungry barons. The way she disposed of anyone who contended with her rule was quite bone-chilling. But, it was very poignant that only Eugenides, the Thief, could steal away her most private possession, despite her defenses and without her knowing it.
Her majesty, the Queen of Attolia. Or Irene (but you’ll be risking your head to address her so informally). She’s such a great character! A very strong woman, who keeps her emotions out of the business of running her kingdom. Her courtiers are afraid of her because of her stony face and her quickness to act on something she doesn’t like. But she is one self-isolated and truly lonely girl! The novel gives very nice glimpses into her mind and the story of her transformation from the “shadow princess” to the “stoned faced queen” is very sad yet proves how strong she is.
I am so in love with Eugenides. He’s a puzzle to everyone at the court and that’ s part of why the Eddisians loves him. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t read The Thief (which is the first novel in this trilogy), but it took me a long while to get used to Eugenides. I couldn’t quite understand why he was so valued and why Attolia and Sounis, the Queen and King of neighboring kingdoms, were afraid of him. I think I may get a better clue as I read on (the last book in the trilogy is The King of Attolia). I love the relationship between Eugenides and the magus, and Eugenides and Attolia. While all these great political schemings take place in which much is at risk, Attolia needs someone to pull her out of it and Eudgenides just might be the one, except that he’s a little afraid of her, too. That just makes it a whole lot more interesting. Anyway, I don’t think I’ve revealed anything that you can’t already guess from reading the synopsis on the back of the book, so this is hopefully spoiler-ish free.
I’m reading The King of Attolia right now because I can’t wait to find out more about what happens between these two.
Thanks to Angie from Angieville for clueing me in on this novel (and, who is also, as a matter of fact, in love with Eugenides…he’s just so charmingly rakish yet he’s got such moments of insecurity that you can’t help but love him and root for him!)
And surprise surprise! I just went and googled Megan Whalen Turner and looks like she’s written yet another Attolia Book: A Conspiracy of Kings!
Rating: 4.5/5 Foiled plans