For August, I’m participating in Read My Own Books Month, hosted by Michelle at That’s What She Read.
Source: Gift from Brittney
Read: For my book club retreat this Labor Day, where we will discuss the entire series at a cabin while drinking wine.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
*** Contains spoilers from book #1 ***
Synopsis (from Publishers Weekly): As it opens, Eugenides the thief has fallen into the clutches of the queen of Attolia, who still seethes from his besting of her (relayed in The Thief). Unwilling to execute him, lest she start a war with the queen of Eddis (Eugenides’s cousin and ruler), she orders his hand cut off. The drama is high, and the action grows only more engrossing. As Eugenides tries to reconcile himself to the amputation, war breaks out, involving Attolia, Eddis and Sounis, tiny countries modeled on ancient Greece and other Mediterranean nations. For the most part, Turner eschews battle scenes, although she executes these with flair. Instead, she emphasizes strategy, with brilliant, ever-deceptive Eugenides a match for Odysseus in his wiliness and daring, perpetually catching readers by surprise.
Overall Impression: I’m not sure why I can’t seem to see what so many people love about this series of books. Reading The Queen of Attolia on the heels of A Game of Thrones probably wasn’t the best idea. The latter was so deep and so sweeping and so epic that it made the former feel…flat. I couldn’t picture TQoA very well in my head and I didn’t follow the wars — the movements of troops, the different allies, or the places of battles. Keeping things straight felt futile. More than anything, I felt like the plot, characters, and setting of TQoA were mostly just a product of telling and not of showing. Some of it felt like info-dumping — just a lot of text to get certain key plot points out of the way so she could get to the ending. I also had a hard time keeping places and people’s names straight, especially when places and people’s names had the same name.
So obviously I thought it had its flaws. But it wasn’t completely bad — I really enjoy Eugenides as a character — he’s broken but still plans and plots to create the best bits of the book. Plus he’s witty and snarky and kind of a jerk…but you like him anyway. I thought the end of the book was much better in the show-vs-tell department, though I am not sure I fully understood the motivations of the main characters.
I’m only starting the third book in the series because of our retreat. I’m not sure I’d soldier on if I was just reading for pleasure.
Positives: A mostly likable main character — I’m can’t think of another character quite like him.
Negatives: A lot of explanation and a lack of action (not just war-type action…just people doing anything). I found the plot points hard to follow sometimes.
Other books I’ve read by Megan Whalen Turner: The Thief (review)
Other blogger opinions:
Dear Author: “The Queen of Attolia makes a good continuation to The Thief, but it is clearly aimed at a somewhat older audience than the earlier book.”
A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy: “This book shows the chess game going on behind the war; but be very clear. This is no game to those involved.”
Presenting Lenore: “Turner excels at literary sleight-of-hand – focusing your attention on something else entirely while she sets up major twists right under your nose.”