A week ago tomorrow, an advance reader's copy of A Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner (Harper Collins, 2009, YA, 312pp) entered my life. In keeping with the season, I was very thankful.
Here's how my reading went: "Sophos!" (huggles Sophos) "Magus!" (hugs Magus) "Eugenides!" (too shy to hug Gen) "Attolia!" (too shy to even call her by her real name, let alone hug her) etc etc.
Needless to say, I love the characters Turner created in her Queen's Thief series (The Thief, Queen of Attolia, and King of Attolia), and reading the fourth book about them was a pleasure, although not unmixed with anxiety about them.
In large part the anxiety comes from problems facing the three contiguous countries involved--Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis. Somehow these traditionally waring realms must join together to face the threat of the Medes, a nation more powerful than any of them separately, that has fixed its greedy eyes on them. In the meantime, the Queen of Eddis has been warned by the gods that a volcanic eruption will destroy her city.
And young Sophos, heir to the kingdom of Sounis, is in rather dire straits, and it is unclear just what will happen to his country (and to him).
And that's all I'm saying about the plot, because I don't want to spoil it.
I will say, though, that Turner has produced another masterfully intricate book, one that demands re-reading and discussing and careful analysis of just about every word. Her incredibly intelligent writing challenges the reader to exercise her* own intelligence, and that's a lovely thing. I need to re-read it a few more times so as to get it all fixed in my head!
I do want to share one non-spoilery quote from the Magus with you all, because it is something that he might have posted to Sounis, the livejournal fan community for these books. It is just the sort of detail we delight in noticing (generally in retrospect):
"That lying little monster complained about everything: the food, the horses, the blankets, the company. He even found fault with the stories I told by the fire, but I cannot recall that he ever once complained about the climbing." (page 117)
To which the next character replies: "So many things are obvious in retrospect, aren't they?"
*It strikes me that every passionate MWT fan I know is of the female persuasion. My own dear husband, currently reading the book, admires them a lot too, but can't be called passionate. He had forgotten who Sophos was (shock horror).
I feel that it would be too greedy to keep my ARC when I know so many other people want it. I'll be buying the hardcover of course when it comes out in March (word on the street is that there will be a map!). So, please visit the next post down so as to find out how to enter to win my ARC.
(disclaimer: ARC received from the publisher, for which I say "Thank you so much!" And now I guess I will have to keep blogging another three or four years, so that Harper Collins will consider me worthy of an ARC of book 5....or, alternately, I could become a Harper Collins author ha ha)