2/5/2011 ** I vaguely remember reading this book back sometime shortly after it came out, because I'd enjoyed The Thief so much. I also remember that I hadn't liked it as much as I'd liked The Thief, but now I'll have to change that opinion - it's an excellent book, but I see very different kids enjoying it.
In The Thief, Gen succeeded in retrieving a prized historic artifact from Attolia's land and giving it to his Queen of Eddis. Now, he's been caught creeping through Attolia's palace again, with the swift thieves' retribution meted out. The rest of the book traces Gen's feelings of depression as he deals with the aftermath - his personal loss and the outbreak of war among the three nations on this Greek-like peninsula.
Where The Thief is very much an action-adventure/mystery that many kids, especially boys would eat up, this sequel seems geared for much more mature readers, requiring more reflection to appreciate the tension. There is suspense, but the suspense is focused on the political situation, the delicate balance of waging a war while also providing food for the nation's populace. There is a striking difference in the way that the two queens rule and maintain power. Gen's own sense of helplessness and despair and Attolia's guilt at the punishment she ordered are crucial as Turner explores the subtle love story between them.
Where The Thief ends at a satisfying point, not even leaving a hint of a forthcoming sequel, this book clearly leaves the story half told, leaving me in suspense about how Gen and Attolia will face the future: I started The King of Attolia today.