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Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen of Attolia

August 3, 2008

97. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (2000)
Queen’s Thief, Book 2

Read my review of the first book in the series, The Thief

Length: 362 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy (sort of; although there’s very little fantastical that goes on in this one.)

Started: 02 August 2008
Finished: 03 August 2008

Summary: A few years after the events of The Thief, and Eugenides has taken to sneaking in to the castle of the Queen of Attolia to taunt her. His capture by her soldiers is the spark that lights the fire of war between the three main countries of their world – Sounis, Attolia, and Eddis. If Eugenides wants peace, he is once again going to have to do the impossible… steal a Queen.

Review: There are plenty of books out there that book award committees and readers alike love but that I just didn’t like. That’s fine, different strokes and all that. But never before have I had the experience of hearing so many positive things about a series that I actually went out and bought the whole thing new (which… I never buy new books), and then reading it, and being completely unable to understand what the heck everyone was raving about. I just don’t get it; I looked and could not find a single other negative review of this series, or this book in particular, but I was severely underwhelmed. Eugenides shows up pretty regularly on people’s lists of BookBoyfriends (not as often as Edward Cullen, but that’s another rant), but I just find him whiny and mopey. People go on about the fantastic character development, but I thought Turner’s shift to third-person narration (The Thief was first-person) actually kept everything at a distance, not allowing you to get close to any of the characters, whether they were growing or not.

That dispassionate nature is really what bothered me about the book as a whole. The writing isn’t so much telling a story as flatly relaying events, very much “The army moved here. Eugenides did something. The Queen felt a certain way.” without ever making the emotions needed to carry the story feel real, and, what’s worse, without ever making me care. To be fair, books that focus on political maneuvering and strategy (which this one did) are rarely favorites of mine, but to also be fair, there is a way to write that kind of fantasy so that it at least holds my attention… and this wasn’t it. Also, the supernatural/religious parts I most enjoyed in The Thief were almost completely absent in this book, so there wasn’t even that level of interest. It wasn’t egregiously and offensively bad, or anything so dire, it just left me very, very “meh”-ified. I am clearly in the minority, so obviously there’s something in this series that most people love, but for the life of me I can’t tell you what it is. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you, like everyone else in the world, liked the first book, then I am no help to you in regards to how you will like the second. If you are the only other person in the world who was underwhelmed by the first book, I will say that it doesn’t get any better in the second, and the third will probably be going back to the bookstore unread.

I do love the cover art, though.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

First Line: He was asleep, but woke at the sound of the key turning in the lock.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. hope permalink
    September 8, 2008 12:01 pm

    I was surprised that you didn’t like this one, just because I know other people who have. But then, I looked at your booklist and saw that you only gave Howl’s Moving Castle three stars. If you didn’t enjoy that off-kilter-I-have-no-idea-what’s-going-on feeling of HMC, then I guess it makes sense that you wouldn’t enjoy this one. QofA isn’t like Howl, but with both of them, the authors throw a lot of stuff at the reader and then leave the reader to figure it all out. Stuff tends to happen under the surface, and you have to read between the lines. I think the reason some people like the book is that they like what their imagination puts into it as much as what the author wrote.

  2. September 8, 2008 12:12 pm

    hope – I gave Howl’s Moving Castle 3.5 stars – which usually translates as “I liked it but it’s not destined to become a favorite.” on my personal rating scale.

    I was also surprised how disappointed I was with Queen of Attolia – I was expecting to like it a lot more. I honestly don’t think that it was the incomplete parceling out of information that put me off – I’ve read and liked plenty of other books where the reader is expected to pay attention and figure out what’s going on behind the words the author gives you – but rather something about the writing and the characterizations in QofA just felt flat to me. Ah, well, to each their own.

  3. hope permalink
    September 17, 2008 11:18 am

    Hmm. I’m coming back here, probably to no purpose, but I realized I was unclear. I meant: if this book pushes your button, you will download into it all the cool you have ever associated with any trickster hero. But if it didn’t push your button than you are stuck looking at the text going “Where is the cool? I just don’t see it.” The “cool” isn’t in the book, only the trigger is, and if it’s not your trigger, it’s just not.

    Books with broader appeal push lots of different buttons. That’s why they have that broad appeal.

    I think these books push a few buttons really really well, and so the people who like them, often love them. I also think The Thief button is co-morbid with HMC. But no matter how much some people love them, I think their appeal is still pretty specific to a particular audience.

    Which is just a long-winded way of agreeing with you. To each his own.

  4. September 17, 2008 5:38 pm

    Your button-pushing theory is an interesting way of looking at things, and is as good an explanation as I’ve ever heard as to why some books just don’t work for some people when everyone else loves them.

  5. July 20, 2009 9:31 pm

    Haha I actually enjoyed The Queen of Attolia! But, that’s the thing with books, everyone has their own favorites and no one has the exact same list of favorites!

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  1. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner | Emily and Her Little Pink Notes

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