Reviewed March 30, 2010.
Greenwillow Books, 2010. 316 pages.
2010 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #1 Teen Fantasy and Science Fiction
I've been waiting eagerly for this book, the fourth about The Thief Eugenides. When it did arrive last week, sure enough, I didn't stop reading until I finished, even though that severely cut into my time to sleep. I will probably reread it soon to savor it more slowly and catch the things I missed that I'm sure Megan Whalen Turner inserted all along. She has a way of writing books that get richer every time you read them.
Again, I can't say too much about the plot, because I don't want to give away all that happens in the earlier books. This definitely is a book you would enjoy more if you read the earlier books first. Or at least you'll definitely enjoy the earlier books more, because this book refers back to almost every surprising plot point in The Thief and The Queen of Attolia.
I was fully expecting to be championing this book for this year's Newbery Medal, but now that I've read it, I think it's probably not enough of a stand-alone story to win. However, rabid fans of the earlier books (like me) will gobble it up and be excited that she's definitely setting the stage for further exciting drama and conflict with the Medes. I strongly suspect that Eugenides will be up to some further scheming in future books, and I only wish that Megan Whalen Turner could write such brilliant books just a little bit faster!
I like that this book featured our old friend Sophos from the first book, The Thief. In A Conspiracy of Kings, Sophos must grow into his heritage. He's the heir to the throne of Sounis, but the book starts with his kidnapping. There are powerful people who would like to make him a puppet king with the Medes pulling the strings. Can Sophos find a way to escape that fate? Can someone who preferred poetry to swordplay and who blushes easily and can't lie convincingly seize and hold a kingdom?
In the first chapter, Sophos writes:
I was crossing the courtyard of the villa, and it was as if one of Terve's lessons had come to life. He may as well have been there, shouting, "You are suddenly attacked by fifteen men; what are you going to do?" Only they weren't a product of Terve's imagination; they were real men, cutting down the guards at the front gate and streaming into the courtyard of the villa.
If you haven't yet read these books, full of adventure, danger, plots and counterplots, and wonderfully flawed heroes and heroines -- order a copy of The Thief right away and get started!