Monday, January 24, 2011

In which I rhapsodize about Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia books

Apparently, I waited the perfect amount of time to reread the Eugenides books by Megan Whalen Turner because, after four years, I remembered pretty close to nothing about them except that they were awesome.  It really was like reading them again for the first time, and they were incredible.  What a treat after four years!

What I remembered
  • The Thief: Gen goes to steal a legendary gem.
  • The Queen of Attolia: The Queen of Attolia cuts off Gen's hand, and he comes to terms with it eventually and then proposes to her.  I thought that was the whole book, but it's only about half of it.  I can't tell you how surprised I was about how much stuff happened after that . . .
  • The King of Attolia: Gen has become the King of Attolia, and he eventually wins over the Queen's supporters in his own special way . . .
Seriously, that's all I remembered.  I reread all of them in preparation for reading A Conspiracy of Kings, and it was good that I did because I didn't remember anything about the main character Sophos, and the fourth book wouldn't have been nearly as good without knowledge of him and his relationship to the various rulers in question. 

Oh, it was so wonderful.  And awful too, because those kinds of things shouldn't happen to anyone, and some of those choices were just awful.  I'm so glad I'm not royalty or involved in politics and high-level decision making.  The responsibility is terrible.  I had such mixed emotions watching them grow into their roles because of what they had to sacrifice.

Beautifully crafted Attolia books

One of the things I've liked about this "series" is the craft that goes into each book's point of view, meaning that it doesn't exactly feel like most series that turn on a single, charismatic character to lead the show.  Book one unreliable narrator Gen gives a masterful performance in first person limited.  Book two includes more points of view, but Gen is still central.  The third book is told through an entirely new (and initially completely hostile) character, and the only glimpses we get of Gen are from this new narrator's less than fair observations.  The fourth book is third person limited Sophos (and it is on this POV that the plot turns, once again).  I just admire how perfectly the POV matches the story.  Beautiful! 

And the world-building! Oh, the politics, the tragedy, the relentless character-development, the slow-burn tension, and the incredible excitement!

And then there's Gen

I adore Gen.  The fact that he can be so interesting even when he's really a peripheral character speaks of just how wonderful a creation he is.  I hope he will forgive me for forgetting all the awesome parts of the first three books.  They were just as amazing this time around.

I would love another book (I feel like there might be one more here), and I am totally content to wait another 4 years for it.  By then, I'll have forgotten everything, and I'll get to read it all again for the first time.  I can't wait to meet Gen and company once more.

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