by Megan Whalen Turner
Reviewing this book is going to be annoying, for the simple reason that I can say even less about it than I could for The Thief without revealing huge massive spoilers for both books. Nonetheless, I will make a valiant attempt.
When The Queen of Attolia begins, Gen is hiding in Attolia’s palace. I can’t tell you why he’s there, but I can tell you that it doesn’t end well. Not. at. all. Which leads me to part of why I love Megan Whalen Turner so much–she does terrible things to her characters. I know that sounds awful, but I mean it. She really makes gutsy moves. Something really awful happens to Gen in the first part of this book and (okay spoiler ahoy, and I’m sorry but I have to say it) it never gets undone. Oh, Gen learns to live with it in his own…Gen-ish way, but Turner never takes the easy route, never has Moira come down from the clouds on a band of sunlight to fix things (in-joke, for those of you who are already fans).
Gen from The Thief is a wonderful character. Funny, horribly flawed, and always hiding something from someone. Gen from The Queen of Attolia is that character grown up in amazing ways. He’s still funny, he’s still horribly flawed, and he’ll never stop hiding something from someone. And yet, my heart breaks every time I read this book because of how wonderful he is and difficulty of the choices he is faced with. There’s another amazing characterization in Queen that I can’t really talk about because it would be too spoilery, but I will say that Turner had to walk a very fine line and, in my opinion, she absolutely delivered on it (I know others who do disagree with me somewhat on that count).
In short: I love this book beyond measure. If you have not already read The Thief, go and do so at once. Or I’ll send the dancing bears after you.
“You would only come sneaking back through my palace, leaving notes beside my breakfast dishes.” p. 20
“The magus was reminded of a bear, chained in a pit, albeit a small bear.” p. 87
“‘I came to steal his magus.’
‘You can’t,’ said the magus in question.
‘I can steal anything,’ Eugenides corrected him.” p. 106
“Nothing I’ve ever learned from a priest makes me think I know just what the gods are or what they can accomplish, but, Gen, I know my decisions are my own responsibility. If I am the pawn of the gods, it is because they know me so well, not because they make up my mind for me.” p. 171
“She sat perfectly still, looking at him without moving as his words dropped like water into dry earth.” p. 360
Book source: my personal library
Megan Whalen Turner’s homepage
A great interview with Turner! (note spoilers)