2/19/2011 ** Ugh! I had just written what felt like a fairly well crafted response and then somehow lost it with an ill-judged backspace.
This book is told from the viewpoint of Costis, a soldier in Eugenides guard. After really enjoying Gen's flippant, youthful attitude in The Thief, I was a bit taken aback at the statecraft and politics that permeate this book, as well as the cold demeanor that Gen seems to have grown into. He seems unhappy and ill-suited to the role of king. At times I wanted to shake him; however, as Turner has done so well in the other two books in the series, things do become clear in the end. Gen continues to scheme and present different faces to different people.
I commented to Mike, my husband, that I thought that The Thief would appeal to different readers than The Queen of Atolia and The King of Atolia. The 2nd and 3rd books in the series would seem to appeal to more mature, sophisticated readers, where The Thief might appeal to the same kids who read the action/adventure books about Percy Jackson (Riordan). Mike disagrees and doesn't see the jump in level quite so much as I do.
I will be taking The Thief to my fourth grade classroom, but will probably keep the King and Queen books at home for the time being, not because they have anything inappropriate, but because I'm not sure the interest is there and I'm running out of shelf space at school!