The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Summary from Goodreads:
When Eugenides (yoo-JEN-ə-deez), the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.
...at what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago...
I read The Thief, the first book in this series, late last year. I mentioned in my review that I liked it but I wasn't jumping up and down about it. But I knew that I had to pick up the second book in the series because for one, the entire blogosphere seem to be buzzing about MWT for the longest time and second, I liked The Thief well enough to warrant getting The Queen of Attolia and I am very very glad I did.
I have always loved Eugenides. He is such a witty, smart, cocky, and devious character. But in QofA I got to see a different side of him. Here, he shows so much vulnerability which I found quite surprising. He did all the things I never expected him to do. Like beg, grovel, feel confused, depressed, lose faith, and be in love. This is one character development I never saw coming.
But here, the limelight isn't only on Gen alone but he shares it with two strong female characters like The Queen of Eddis and the Queen of Attolia. These two women who seem completely different from each other yet so much the same. They both radiate strenght and power but differ in principles and ideals. And how they came together was quite interesting and I realized that these two aren't really that far off from each other after all.
The excitement of the story seems to have increased by leaps and bounds from the first installment. The political intrigue is heightened. The dialogue is all the more witty. The twists and turns are very much unexpected. I never saw any of them coming. Not a single one.
The back stories about Gen, the Queen of Eddis, and Attolia were also such a treat to read. The world building is all the more excellent with the distinct culture and history of the three territories of Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia given much more attention. I also love the original myths found in the story. Particularly the one of Horreon and Hespira which is sort of a presentiment of the fate of Gen.
I think that this book is terribly smart and that MWT is a genius! I am most definitely a fan. My only complaint is that I'm not a fan of the cover of this particular edition that I have (see photo above). That and the fact that The Thief, the first book in the series is a bit sleepy, thus there is a big chance many will no longer pick up the rest of the series and miss out on the awesomeness of it all. :D