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Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: A Conspiracy of Kings

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief #4)
by Megan Whalen Turner

Plot Summary:

Sophos, under the guidance of yet another tutor, practices his swordplay and strategizes escape scenarios should his father's villa come under attack. How would he save his mother? His sisters? Himself? Could he reach the horses in time? Where would he go? But nothing prepares him for the day armed men, silent as thieves, swarm the villa courtyard ready to kill, to capture, to kidnap. Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears without a trace.

In Attolia, Eugenides, the new and unlikely king, has never stopped wondering what happened to Sophos. Nor has the Queen of Eddis. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again. Across the small peninsula battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Darkening the horizon, the Mede Empire threatens, always, from across the sea. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Sophos, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the magus — and Eddis — sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.


What I'm really loving about The Queen's Thief series is how the author makes each book a different experience.  A Conspiracy of Kings takes on a different narrative style, a different narrator, and brings the reader more into the political world of Sounis.  Although my favorite character, Eugenides, features less in this book, I was glad to read more about Sophos who was a great character in the first book, and becomes much more mature and hardened in this, without losing too much of his idealism and enthusiasm for learning that really made me love him in the first book.

I'm generally not a fan of heavy politics in stories, but Megan Whalen Turner manages to make it intriguing and gripping (just like in the second book The Queen of Attolia) especially when the ambitious barons directly antagonize Sophos.  It's also interesting how important it is to have read the first three books to really understand how important the actions of the regents of the three nations are.  And the way the history of these nations are continually developed through each book made me feel like I really understood the world and how it works.  It's fantastic storytelling!

Where I was a tiny bit disappointed was in how the pace sometimes flagged - especially with how Sophos in captivity.  Those scenes were important for Sophos in many ways, and it helped to build Sophos into an even stronger, more sympathetic character, but I found myself really looking forward to when Sophos would find a way out.  Towards the end though there are fantastic, tension-filled scenes as Sophos fights for Sounis, and it's again highly impressive how invested I was in the political maneuverings of these nations.

There's an understated romance weaved into the story which I really enjoyed.  Which surprises me because I usually go for more demonstrative romances, but it is really done well in this book - especially in the way the narrative flows - because even though we don't see our hero and heroine together a lot, you know by the way Sophos speaks that he is always thinking of her.

We see more of characters I've fallen in love with from the previous books, and more action, adventure and mishaps to keep every installment exciting, so I really hope there will be another book out in this series soon!  Because I adore the series and the author so much!



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