A Conspiracy of Kings
Warning: Spoilers for the previous books in the series (and probably for this one too)
In this book we get to know what happened to Sophos, whose fate has been mentioned and speculated in the previous book. And since it is Sophos himself who tells it, we see who he really is, not just the innocent blushing boy from The Thief. And since that book his life has not been easy. First his uncle, the King of Sounis, decides that the magus is not a suitable tutor (for his purposes, of course), then comes exile to island of Letnos and a whole string of tutors who are bad, drunk, silly, idiot or any combination of those.
But that is not the worse part, when Sounis dies, Sophos becomes king, and everyone knows he is spineless and gullible, so everyone wants to be the one pulling his strings. First comes abduction and betrayal, then Sophos manages to escape only to become a slave, and then he has to escape again, while trying to decide whether he actually wants to be king.
This book is divided in four parts, two of those narrated by Sophos (and it takes a while to become apparent to whom he is telling his story), and the other two, when the gang (as I call Gen, Attolia, Eddis and Sophos) is all together. Sophos's story is brilliant, poignant, and very true to his character. One cannot help but feel for him. But there is also his relationship with the other characters. Attolia, the one he has had less contact with was actually surprising – I could see the beginning of a friendship there. With Gen, it was heartbreaking, because he is no longer just a rowdy boy thief, he is king, of a rival country, one that is at war with his. And since this is Sophos story, we don't get much of Gen's inner feelings, only glimpses, and at first he comes across way too cold.
And then there is Eddis, who once proposed marriage to him, only now there are a lot more political trappings with that marriage. For once, I wished Megan Whalen Turner focused more on the love stories of her characters (a character in The King of Attolia says "the love of kings and queens is beyond the compass of us lesser mortals", and it's certainly true for this series). Even more, because in the light of the ending, Eddis's feelings don't sound as true as they could have (I know they are true, but still...).
Overall it was a very good book, mostly because of Sophos development (who, in my mind, already is Sounis), who is a great character, and thus making up for the fact that there is less Gen (and less than stellar Gen). But I expected more of the ending. It wasn't bad, but I was under the impression this was going to be the last book of the series (now I know there are plans for two more, yay!), and as such it lacked the grand finale vibe. Still, it was a decent ending, with a promise of more adventures to come.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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