The King of Attolia: Recommended with a caveat

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsYA young adult fantasy book review Megan Whalen Turner The Thief 3. The King of AttoliaThe King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Gen is now The King of Attolia, married to the woman who he has loved since childhood, who also ordered his hand cut off when he was caught snooping around the castle. At the end of the last book, The Queen of Attolia, he offered to marry the Queen to seal a peace treaty between her country and his native Eddis, keeping secret from almost everyone that he has been in love with her since his youth. Now he is king of a country that considers him an enemy, and his marriage a political sham rather than a love match.

The King of Attolia is told from the point of view of Costas, a soldier in the Guard who is assigned to be an attendant to the new king. He starts out considering Gen a weak, lazy, inadequate excuse for a monarch, and slowly comes to see that the king is putting on a front to draw out his enemies so that he and the queen can consolidate their power. When he stumbles onto a foiled assignation attempt, he realizes that he needs to drawn the king’s powers out into the open so that all will recognize his authority.

I’ve read many reviews of The King of Attolia which are written by people who loved it and think it’s one of the greatest love stories they’ve ever read. It is a moving romance, except for one big thing: I just can’t believe that these two people have been secretly in love with each other since childhood. I didn’t believe it at the end of the last book, and the incredulity was never remedied in The King of Attolia.The Queen's Thief (6 book series) Kindle Edition

While there are some genuinely touching moments, and I appreciate the difficulty that Gen undergoes in having to take responsibility and be king, my problem is that I can’t appreciate the pathos of his situation because I can’t believe in his reason for sacrificing his own happiness. This is one of the few series for which I can say that I think readers who skip the first two books may enjoy the third more — just because they don’t have to believe the complicated back story between the two main characters.

This causes difficulty for rating The King of Attolia. It’s a really good story in and of itself, so it doesn’t seem fair to ding it for things beyond the covers of the book. However, it’s difficult to have a moving romance when the reader can’t believe that the characters are actually in love with each other. I will recommend The King of Attolia, but with the caveat that if the end of The Queen of Attolia irritated you, The King of Attolia will not fix that.


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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