Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Castle Intrigue Genius ~ The Queen's Thief

Over the last year I've realized that my favorite genre may be "castle intrigue." This is my own term for it-- is there an actual term for this genre? You know, set in a land with royalty and peasants. Where the characters scheme and plan and grab for power. As I studied my completed books for 2013, I was surprised to find 20 castle intrigue books.
So far my favorite castle intrigue series is The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

For this post I have organized abbreviated reviews for the first 4 books of the series. Turner has indicated that two other titles are in the works.

Book One: The Thief
For a book called The Thief, there just wasn't much thieving. The first half was excruciatingly slow, full of traveling, camping, and stilted dialogue. Once the thieving started the story got more interesting, but I consistently struggled to imagine the action and events. This was a 2 star book for me until the last 40 pages which included a satisfying twist.

Book Two: The Queen of Attolia
Wow! Where book one, The Thief, annoyed me with its slow pacing, little action, and even less thieving, this one, was SO much better. It was a little slow to get going, but that's because the characters are all playing various long-cons, which means the last third of the book is fever-pitch awesome.

Book Three: The King Attolia
I'm so glad that I continued this series! Books 2 and 3 are so strong. I love the way the king and queen manipulate people's perspectives, lure them into false confidence, and get them to show their hands. These two characters make a better team than I had imagined. The intrigue here was less about power and more about gaining loyalty. It was a cool change of pace, and totally appropriate for a new king.

Book Four: A Conspiracy of Kings
Although the sneaky maneuvering of the previous books isn't as prevalent in this installment, I continue to be impressed by Turner's ability to create distinct voices for her characters. This one uses a totally different voice/narration style. It didn't quite grab me in the same way as the others, but the style totally fit this novel's central character. The intrigue and scheming were front-and-center, just the way I like it! Please publish a fifth book!

The scheming in this series is so stinking fun! It reminds me a lot of how the show, Leverage, is organized - with a major long-con that is revealed at the end of each episode.
If you're interested, I recommend that you at least read the first 2 books since book one is only meh. Still, that first book is critical for understanding the rest of the series. So don't be afraid - dive in, muddle through The Thief, and LOVE the rest.

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