Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Conspiracy of Kings

by Megan Whalen Turner
Read: December 25-28, 2012
Published: March 23, 2010 by Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins 
Source: Library book
Category: Fantasy 
Series: The Queen's Thief book 4

NOTE: A Conspiracy of Kings is the fourth book in The Queen's Thief series. If you have yet to start the series, see my spoiler free thoughts on the first two books, HERE. My review for the third book, The King of Attolia is HERE

Sophos, under the guidance of yet another tutor, practices his swordplay and strategizes escape scenarios should his father's villa come under attack. How would he save his mother? His sisters? Himself? Could he reach the horses in time? Where would he go? But nothing prepares him for the day armed men, silent as thieves, swarm the villa courtyard ready to kill, to capture, to kidnap. Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears without a trace. 

In Attolia, Eugenides, the new and unlikely king, has never stopped wondering what happened to Sophos. Nor has the Queen of Eddis. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again. 
Across the small peninsula battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Darkening the horizon, the Mede Empire threatens, always, from across the sea. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Sophos, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the Magus and Eddis, sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever. (from Goodreads)

I know that many people do not love this book as much as the previous three, because the focus of the story shifts from Eugenides to Sophos. But for me, A Conspiracy of Kings is where Megan Whalen Turner's vision for her Queen's Thief series reaches new heights of brilliance. What Turner does not do is follow a set form for her stories, instead she employs whatever means she feels is necessary to unfold her tale. Eugenides narrated The Thief in first person; The Queen of Attolia switched to third person limited and rotated between Gen and a few other characters, while The King of Attolia was mostly written in the point of view of Costis, a palace guard. Each perspective adds another layer of complexity to this world and the people that inhabit it. Especially the character of Eugenides. That is no truer than in A Conspiracy of Kings, where the series returns to first person, and we finally learn what has happened to Sophos since we met him in The Thief

I enjoyed getting Sophos' story. He is so very endearing and much more open and transparent than the ever whiney and crafty, Gen (my love for Eugenides knows no bounds, btw). Poor Sophos can't catch a break. All he wants to do is sit in a library and learn, but he is first in line to the throne in Sounis, and his father has very specific ideas about his education. Unfortunately, none of those ideas involve books. When armed men swarm the villa where Sophos lives with his mother and sisters, his life veers even more off course. 

In A Conspiracy of Kings, we get to see Sophos grow into a man, and in true Turner fashion, the process is painful at times. But it also gave me a great sense of pride in Sophos. What is fantastic about this book is that as I followed Sophos' journey, including his triumphs and failures, I could tangibly see him begin to understand his own strength and power. As he started to believe in himself, he became a great leader. And he did it all without loosing the person that he was to begin with. I am constantly in awe of Turner’s ability to develop her characters through moments that are both small and subtle and vastly important.

However, A Conspiracy of Kings is not just Sophos' story. Although the majority of the book is about him, it is also another piece of an enormous puzzle that Turner is constructing out of these characters and their world. Even in this book, it is clear that Gen is at its heart. What is most fun is seeing Eugenides, Irene, Helen and Sophos all together.  Each is amazing in his or her own right, and they are all very different from each other. But I can’t even describe the force that they are together. Book by book I've soaked up the new perspectives I've gotten of each of them, and especially Gen. I cannot wait to see what they accomplish next.

Cliffhanger Scale: Low (But huge hints of what is to come.)
Love Triangle Factor: None


  1. I think that was this books saving grace for me - that it all just went back to Gen. I adore Sophos, but he's no Gen and I did find parts of his tale to be a little boring at times. I loved seeing Helen, Irene, Sophos, and Gen together though, especially how distraught Gen was that he could no longer treat Sophos as a close friend. Wonderful review, Lauren! I can't wait till the next book now!(:

    1. I think it really helped me to go into this story knowing that it would focus on someone else. Although, I will admit to falling in love with Sophos along the way. I also think that the fact that we only got small moments with Gen made them much more meaningful. One of my favorite parts is when Gen and Helen are together on the balcony after Sophos' has left. Such a tiny scene, but big FEELINGS of longing in there.

  2. Ah!!! I agree with you about this one Lauren, I'm sure I've told you (repeatedly) that this is my favorite book in the series. I just LOVE that it's a story being told, but in a way that you don't even realize it for huge chunks of the book. Eddis is my favorite...I get Irene, and I respect her and her relationship with Gen, but I LOVE Helen Sophos. I like the sweet openness, it's just such a relief at this point, you know?

    1. I'm glad you love this book so much! And I agree that it is nice that there is more of an openness, as you said, and also a vulnerability between Sophos and Helen, that Gen and Irene don't possess. Oh and the voice changes do work really well here, I agree. I didn't realize until mid-way what was going on. Loved that method.

  3. I really need to read MWT--so many of my friends love her books, and so does Elizabeth Fama, whose book I adored! Thanks for the great review.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. This is an amazing series, Wendy! I cannot say enough great things about it. And I will tell you what Elizabeth Fama told me when I was struggling with the pace of book one, THE THIEF. This series gets BETTER with each book (She is absolutely right about that), so KEEP READING. The first book has a lot of background in it that is essential later on. THE KING OF ATTOLIA, which is the third in the series is my absolute favorite. But I love them all.


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