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