purplecat: (books)
So finally I get to the King of Attolia. [livejournal.com profile] ladyofastolat and [livejournal.com profile] bunn are right. This is better than the Queen of Attolia. Although it is still written in the third person there is a much tighter focus on one main viewpoint character, a guard called Costis, and the book benefits from this. I still think the Thief is the best of the three. The King of Attolia engages much better than the Queen of Attolia but it has some structural problems avoided in the first book.

cut for spoilers, mostly for fear that I'll spoil the previous two books, though I'll try not to )
purplecat: (books)
[livejournal.com profile] ladyofastolat warned my that The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner was very different from its predecessor, The Thief and it is. "Darker" was the word she used, and its that too. It is still a good book which I would recommend but if I had to chose only one of the two I would pick its predecessor.

The Thief had one central twist which I think was well foreshadowed (though most others say it came out of the blue at them, but then I'd been warned there was a twist which maybe set my brain thinking along the right lines). The Queen of Attolia I would say has several twists, some of which I saw coming, or at least, as with The Thief answered questions upon which I was already pondering and some of which did indeed, come right out of the blue. This of course makes it kind of hard to review. What to reveal and what not? So I'm going to put in a spoiler section, I'm not going to reveal much but there is some stuff that doesn't get revealed until about 50 pages in.

mild spoilers )

Partly, this is a coming of age story. I had not really appreciated how young Gen was supposed to be in The Thief and part of the darkness of this story (leaving aside the brutality of its opening) stems from its sense of a loss of, if not innocence, childish enthusiasm and its examination of how childish passions change as they lose their child-like qualities.

I think, when I read the first book, I mentally labelled the prose as "simple". I now think "deceptively simple" might be a better term. It is, I've decided, both elegant and succinct. This is a description, early on, of the throne rooms of Eddis:

The original throne room of Eddis was smaller, the original throne simpler than the ceremonial throne in the dining hall. Carved from stone and softened by embroidered cushions, the old throne was quite plain. Being a plain person, Eddis preferred it to the gilded glory of the new throne. She ruled her country from the smaller throne room, and saved the glories of the Greater Hall for banquets.

This passage, which ostensibly simply describes Eddis moving from the banquet hall to a secluded area where she can speak to her ministers. Is also being used to tell us about Eddis herself, and give us a feel for the history and culture of her country. I also love the repeated use of the word throne, and the alliteration of "gilded glory", "plain person" and "glories of the Greater hall". This style makes reading the book feel effortless while actual packing a lot of information and nuance into the words.

I definitely recommend this book. It's different from its predecessor but its clearly about the same people and if you were interested in them before you will be gripped by their continuing story. But its not got quite the knock-em-dead wow factor of The Thief

The Thief

Nov. 6th, 2007 08:33 pm
purplecat: (books)
[livejournal.com profile] ladyofastolat recommended The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner a few months ago. The recommendation came with dire warnings: "do not read ahead", "do not even read the back". This was a huge trial since I am an inveterate skipper ahead which I know makes me a bad person but actually doesn't seem to spoil my enjoyment much. In fact, since I tend to worry about characters I like, skipping ahead can reassure me they're going to be OK. Having read it I don't think such exaggerated care is necessary - certainly the back of the book didn't give away anything that the intelligent reader wouldn't have worked out by about half way through. Skip ahead at your peril though. I wouldn't exactly say the book has a twist since it raises questions as it goes along and the "twist" leads on logically from and makes sense of all those questions.

Read more... )

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