Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

The Queen's Thief, Book 2
(Book 1: The Thief review)

Tags: YA, fantasy, politics, war

Perhaps because I found The Thief so fun and heartfelt, and was enthralled by numerous others’ lavish praises on the sequels, that I had extremely high expectations for THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA. It pains me to say that I didn’t like THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA as much as I did The Thief, but it’s still a good read in fantasy literature that will appeal across age ranges.

THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA is altogether different from The Thief. It’s told in third-person instead of first. Eugenides seems older; the events and the premise of this book are a lot darker, dipping into the disturbing at times. THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA focuses a lot on the political tensions between the kingdoms, to the point where long sections of the book are dedicated entirely to dry accounts of political and military events. While I go gaga for books that are smart, yet interesting to read, I couldn’t help but feel that all that information could have been presented to readers in a more engaging way.

Maybe this decision to report war news in such a dry way was a deliberate decision on Turner’s part. In any case, it also affected by connections I had with the characters. Which is to say, I felt that the characters saw me, but instead of coming over to chat, decided to head to another room on the other side of the soundproof glass, where they continued to be aloof and secretive and unfriendly. Not quite how I wish to interact with characters.

As for the romance…eh. Well. It’s not as if there weren’t hints as to what would happen, and the turning point was kind of cute in a romantic-movie-swoon kind of way, but the characters’ aloofness throughout the story up to that point took away from the impact of that scene, at least for me. I hope they’ll be good for one another, even though I can’t quite see how that will happen from the rest of the book, but hey, it would go beyond my realm as reviewer to question the decisions of the characters and author, so I’ll just leave them to do their thing.

THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA didn’t sweep me off my feet as The Thief did, but perhaps I was in the wrong mindset when I read this book (ten years too late, perhaps?). I’ll still continue with the series, though, since it’s gotten so many rave reviews from every reviewer I respect. Perhaps, however, by toning down my expectations, I will get more out of my reading experiences.

Cover discussion: I love all of the covers in this series. They're very distinctly related to one another, and have just the right touch of glamor to hint of court intrigues.

Greenwillow Books / Jan. 24, 2006 (reprint) / Paperback / 368pp. / $6.99

Personal copy.


  1. Yes, I definitely agree with you on this. Loved The Thief best, and maybe this one wasn't quite up to par, but it was still a delight. I think I need to reread this series!

  2. I did enjoy this one, but The King of Attolia was really my favorite of the series.

  3. QUEEN was my least favorite of the series, too, though I still loved it bunches. I agree with you that I was not invested in the romance here. Actually, I fell in love with them as a couple in KING -- and enjoyed QUEEN a lot more upon re-reading. :)

  4. The Queen of Attolia is my favorite book in the Queen's Thief series so far. This is one of the first books I enjoyed reading about political intrigue. I agree there were parts where it was dry and a little hard to relate to things, but I respect everything Megan Whalen Turner does as an author and I think the distance and everything made sense by the end. If the distance bothers you, I can say that there will be more of a payoff later in the third book as Turner begins to close the distance between the characters and reader. You just have to trust Turner and believe that all the things you may be doubtful about now will get better, because they will. :)

  5. Oh I just want to hug you right now, because I preferred The Thief to QoA too, and I really feel as if we're in the minority. I did really like QoA as well, but it didn't hold the same surprise for me. My favorite in the series, actually, is A Conspiracy of Kings. I hope you keep going, and perhaps like you said with tempered expectations you will enjoy it more!


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