December 26, 2008

building safety nets under my feet

Posted in books tagged , at 4:53 pm by placeinthestars

I have been completely enthralled and engrossed in Megan Whalen Turner’s Eugenides trilogy: The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia.

I bought them for my niece for Christmas a couple of years ago, on the recommendation of…someone, and a more recent post on the subject reminded me of them, and so on Christmas Eve, while waiting to open gifts, I started reading. And basically didn’t stop, except for when people were here or I had to go be elsewhere (which was a lot, or I’d have been done sooner. sigh).

I highly recommend these books – they are a lot of fun. If you know me at all, you know I really liked the pseudo-Greek-ness of them, and also the roguish thief angle, but they also include such awesome characters as the Queen of Eddis – who is very awesome – and the Queen of Attolia, who is very awesome and also one scary lady.

The first book, The Thief, is a lot of fun, and also very clever in its use of first person POV, which lets us get to know Gen while also knowing that there are things he’s holding back and keeping secrets, and the payoff for that is excellent, if not actually as surprising as it’s probably meant to be.

The stakes are higher, and the tension ratcheted up in the scond book, the Queen of Attolia, which I found even more compelling than The Thief, and I stayed up half the night reading it; again, the use of POV is very clever, making us slowly aware of the games Attolia is playing, and also, slowly sympathetic to her, which, given that she cuts Gen’s hand off, is really quite amazing. I maybe cheered a little when she put in Gen’s ruby earrings. Also, I really loved Eddis (and her exchange of names with Attolia was wonderfully done), and her relationship with Gen.

My one complaint would be that I feel like a lot of this book was telling – all the troop movements and reports on what was going on in the farflung battlefields; it was way more interesting to me when the characters were onscreen and interacting with each other. Still, I enjoyed it a lot and totally recommend it.

And again in The King of Attolia, we get the clever use of POV – we are never inside Gen’s head in this book, which is the one flaw, I think – but we see him from so many different points of view – most importantly, Costis’s – that it almost doesn’t matter (I say almost because I really like Gen and would have liked more of his interior monologue rather than always seeing him from the outside). I liked Costis, and it didn’t really bother me that I felt like I knew way more about what was going on than he did, mostly because I’d had the first two books to give me a good sense of who Eugenides is, so I knew that nothing was as it seemed, that it was all feints and stratagems. I was also happy to see that Gen got what he wanted – Attolia – and finally stepped up to his responsibilities as king. I am slightly less sanguine with the idea that he had to be the sovereign, that the king is in the end a more powerful position than the queen (though I understand why, intratextually, it seemed to be that way, given the political situation in Attolia), but the book ended before that could really become an issue.

Anyway, I highly recommend this trilogy. I think this series totally gets better and more compelling as it goes on, which is rare in trilogies/series, and I really liked the characters, especially Gen, Attolia, Eddis, and the magus.

And I have heard that there will be a fourth book in the series next year. Woo! I can’t wait

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