The King of Attolia: A Review

It is not easy to become the king of a country already fond of its queen, especially for a foreigner who kidnapped that queen and may or may not have forced her hand in the matter of their marriage. How can any man truly become a king when no one sees him as a sovereign? Not that it matters. With such tenuous foundations, sovereignty is not enough to ensure loyalty anyway.

Being the Thief of Eddis was always enough for Eugenides. He didn’t want to become King of Attolia. He didn’t want the crown at all. He wanted the queen. Even more wondrous, Attolia wanted him. But one cannot marry a queen without becoming a king.

The union requires a careful dance of shadows and unsubstance, but under it all, there is still a marriage of two people. But there is also more. An unlikely pair and, for Gen at least, unlikely monarchs, their marriage will not be an easy one. Each move will require careful calculation. Especially when a rash young guard is dragged into the middle of the kingdom’s political machinations.

Much like Gen himself, Costis wants nothing to do with the royal court or Eugenides’ efforts to avoid all royal responsibility. And yet the more time he spends with the young king the more Costis understands all that Gen has lost in his pursuit of the throne–and what made the sacrifice worthwhile. Together these unlikely allies might even teach the Attolian court a thing or two about what it takes to be a true king in The King of Attolia (2006) by Megan Whalen Turner.

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The King of Attolia is the sequel to Turner’s Newbery honor book The Thief which first introduced readers to Eugenides and his world and its followup The Queen of Attolia. Readers of Turner’s earlier books will quickly recognize references to characters from other volumes and past events (others might be well advised to re-read the earlier titles to get a better sense of the big picture of the series).

Written with shifting viewpoints, readers learn about Gen’s changed circumstances through Costis’ eyes. In this way, it is easy to see how little the country thinks of their new king and also, thanks to moments from Gen and Attolia’s perspectives, how greatly they underestimate his cunning and his ingenuity.

As much a coming of age story as the story of a man learning to be king, The King of Attolia is another fine installment about the inimitable Thief of Eddis. Somewhat lighter on action and war-making than the first two books in the series, this one makes up for it by providing more insight into the ways of Attolia and her relationship with Gen. Richly told and expertly written, this story  lays fine groundwork for the next installment in Turner’s wonderful series A Conspiracy of Kings.

Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad, Plain Kate by Erin Bow, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, The Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers,Soundless by Richelle Mead, Sabriel by Garth Nix, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater