Discussion Post: The King of Attolia (Queen’s Thief #3) by Megan Whalen Turner

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

The he drags a naive young guard into the centre of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his face, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.

So the back kind of tells too much, but then, if you’ve read the series in order (instead of starting with the third book because the library didn’t have the first two, as I did), there isn’t anything terribly surprising in what is revealed.

Also, Costis! Naive, wonderful Costis.

Remember to warn of anything spoiler-y, etc.

Week 1: chapters 1-3

Week 2: chapters 4-6

Week 3: chapters 7-9

Week 4: chapters 10-14

Or, more realistically, read it all in one week and then read it all again in time for the last week’s discussions 🙂

  • I really love the slow reveal of the world through Costis’s perspective. And that it’s from the Attolian perspective, after two books from (basically) Eugenides and his country’s perspective.

    • Janet

      YES. The glimpses into the Attolian perspective and the world of the Guard are delicious. And I love Costis. He’s sweet and naive and he has no idea how the world really works but he really does mean well and SPOILERS he’s going to grow up.

  • I find it hugely satisfying to see a favourite character through a new character’s eyes. (LM Bujold does this several times with Miles Vorkosigan, and it’s always fun.) But then, you’re right, Costis himself starts to grow on me, and I end up caring as much about his arc as I do about figuring out what Gen is really up to.

    • Janet

      Does even GEN really, entirely, know what he is up to? Or maybe he does, but is resisting it as much as he runs toward it.

      • That’s the great thing about this book: Gen the schemer gets caught by his own scheme. I love the scene with the king’s attendants (trying not to be spoilery here!) where you see what his plan was all along, but I think I love even more the conversation with Costis on the top of the tower where he admits that he hadn’t really thought the whole thing through and now he’s stuck with his own success.

        (The next bit is slightly more spoilery (thematically, but not plot-wise), for those who are still on whatever chapter we’re supposed to be on this week!)

        Everytime I read it I get something more about what Gen is going through, how much he hates being king, how ironically trapped he is by his own power. He says it right at the start, when he tells Costis “my pardon is not a matter of civil pleasantry.” He really can do whatever he wants, but the consequences of his actions have far more repercussions than they ever did before, so that’s really what he’s trapped by.

        Going through that first scene again to find that quote, I’m struck by how little MWT tells us about her characters’ emotions. There’s the word “anguished,” then a few pages on there’s “contempt” in the guard’s look, and another few pages later Costis feels “shame.” Other than those three words, we get only descriptions of actions, thoughts and circumstances, and we have to extrapolate the emotions each character must be feeling, given their circumstances and their actions. Very masterful.

        • Janet

          Ooooooh you’re so right! (*goes goopy-eyed at the book all over again*)
          And that opening scene. MWT does that bit where she says almost nothing about the characters’s emotions but makes their actions clear as day – and makes the reader fill in any blanks, or not – especially well again when *some spoilers, but you’ve read the whole thing, right?* Costis is cast adrift and spends his evenings in town at the pub, completely miserable.
          So is this technique one she developed particularly strongly over the course of the series and particularly in this book (growth as a writer), or does it lend itself better to some narrative voices better than others (third person POV with Costis as focal point more than first-person young Gen)?

        • Janet

          And also, about Gen being stuck with his own success and power, and both resisting and using it – wait, no. That’s a discussion for the next book. Argh.

  • Janet

    So, I maaaaaay have Check, Please! on the brain from reading it so much lately, but does it seem to anyone else that Costis starts out like Chowder? Just a little?