The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: A-

From the front flap, edited for spoilers:
When Eugenides outwitted the Queen of Attolia, she lost face. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered… she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

The Queen of Attolia is the sequel to The Thief, set in the same world but without the same narrator. Strenuously avoid reading the description of this book on Amazon, for there is a spoiler right there in the first sentence. I was its victim, but thankfully, the event it describes happens fairly early on so I didn’t have to spend the whole book wondering when it was going to occur. Suffice it to say, Gen does a lot of growing up in this book.

He’s still as likable as he was the first go around, but with this volume, I’ve also grown to like the Queen of Eddis quite a bit. A rational, competent, female leader in trousers who spurns offers of marriage and earns her court’s loyalty by ability rather than by scheming, Eddis (the monarchs go by the names of their countries) is an excellent character.

Although I enjoyed The Thief, The Queen of Attolia is much better, in my opinion. It’s become more of a game of political intrigue, and I prefer that sort of story much more than one with lots of traveling. Essentially, there’s a power struggle between three countries in one part of the world, and they need to get their acts together to avoid being overrun by an Imperial power from another coast. Although Gen’s is primarily the main point of view, there are passages in each of the countries allowing us to get a glimpse of the motivation and rationale of all parties.

The Queen of Attolia is fast-paced, clever, and entertaining. I especially found Chapter 16 to be amusing. I am really quite surprised that my local library is shelving it in the Juvenile section rather than YA, as I’m not sure very young kids could really grasp the importance of, say, buying up a whole bunch of surplus grain as a political maneuver.

The one downside I could give it is that sometimes the story jumps forward to show Gen doing something, having made a decision he was struggling with previously, but without showing how he finally came to make his choice in the matter. In most cases, the story manages to loop back around and give a bit of explanation, but it can leave one in a state of not understanding his motivations for a time.

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  1. I also enjoyed this book too. Though not as much as I liked Thief and King of Attolia. I like Attolia’s character. She is a strong, decisive ruler who is confident in her abilities. I didn’t really Attolia’s decisions in this book. She should be a strong enough ruler that she wouldn’t have to do something she is not comfortable with just to prove her authority and not lose face in front of her subjects. And what Eugenides went through in this book did force him to grow up a lot. I feel it was a humbling experience for him.

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