A Conspiracy of Kings
Megan Whalen Turner
Adventure/Alternate History/ Fantasy
You’ve been forewarned—I’m going to gush, rave and sing praise about this book! First off, I loved the first three books in the Queen’s Thief Series. In fact, I thought each one got better and better. I’ve reread all of them multiple times too, and that’s saying something when I have a bookshelf full of books waiting to be read and a list that’s even longer. Now, I know this review is supposed to be about A Conspiracy of Kings, but please forgive me when I mention the first three books as well. There is so much that pulls the four stories together, I can’t help but bring them up from time to time.
A Conspiracy of Kings is the story of Sophos, King of Sounis. While the Queen and King of Attolia and the Queen of Eddis play large roles, Sophos takes center stage in this novel. It has everything an adventure novel should: secrets, spies, sword fights, a wise magus, kings and queens, villains, betrayal, heroism and a sweet romance.
While I’ve looked forward to this novel for what seems like years, I was afraid that I would have a hard time becoming a champion of Sophos, since I love Eugenides so much, but that fear was unfounded. Sophos is his own man, with his own faults and strengths. He falters and learns from his mistakes as he grows from an insecure youth to a man worthy of ruling a nation. He’s a character worthy of our attention and one who easily gains our sympathy and has us rooting for him to succeed with each challenged thrown at him.
What I loved about this novel and the previous three is the pacing. There is always something happening, and the story never drags. The action begins in the first pages, and it never stops. Each scene pulls you into the next, building moment as it progresses.
Every adventure needs some romance, and oh, do these books offer up the sweetest most satisfying romance. A simple look or the gesture of brushing back a strand of hair had me sighing contentedly. Megan Whalen Turner is a master of portraying an understated romance that flows seamlessly throughout the story and yet never overwhelms it.
She also does something very unconventional that I’ve never seen in a series before, but that I think enhances the stories. She changes between first person and third person point of view in her books. The Thief is told in first person, The Queen and King of Attolia are told in third, and then A Conspiracy of Kings is told in both first and third (with another little twist I can’t mention that you’ll just have to read to find out! But I have to say, once I figured out what she was doing, it really did work for me).
If you haven’t read the first three, start with them. Each book does an amazing job of standing on its own, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of the stories and appreciate all the little things Megan Whalen Turner does to tie all the stories back to each other. If you haven’t already figured it out, I adore the series, and recommend it to everyone. Go read them and discover what you’ve been missing out on. Now that I’m finished writing this, I think I’m going to go read it again and catch all the little nuances I missed the first time because I was reading too fast as the story pulled me through its pages!