Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Review

And not after all that anticipation I bring to you my very important opinion of the book Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whelan Turner.

It was great.

Oh, wait, you want more specifics? Are you sure about that you could be opening a never ending gush here. OK. Specifics it is. Without spoilers. O dear. I shall try.

As usual for Megan Whelan Turner there are a lot of things that aren't stated outright in the narration but are revealed later. For example that one significant detail in Sophos's dreams and what he plans to do at his final confrontation with his would be usurpers. Most of them are pretty easy to guess at though. There isn't any "OH MY GOD WHAT!?!!" moment of revelation but it is still fun to be kept on your toes and be left to figure things out for yourself.

Sophos's character was a very interesting perspective to see the story from. He's much more honest than Eugenides for one thing --though one might argue not quite as clever. But not to be underestimated either. In the space between this book and The Thief --the last time we saw Sophos (or should I be calling him Sounis?)--and even more during the course of Conspiracy of Kings he goes through a lot of changes. There is no mistaking him for the same boy who slept late and let Gen steal his food but he also becomes quite fierce. On more than one occasion he is called 'lion'. He still blushes. I love that he still blushes. It is a true mark of Turner's genius that she is able to grow him up without loosing that sweet self-conscious boy that he was. It is the extreme contrast of him being entirely one thing but also entirely the other that makes him such a multi-layered human being, struggling through different stages of his life. I think this contrast in identity is what makes all her characters seem so real instead of characterized plot points.

The book is partly told in first person and partly in third. I love how the voice is so different for both but also consistent for Sounis' (shall I call him Sounis now?) character. Turner is not afraid to play with the format but the switching of narrative isn't a gimmick either. It contours to the needs of the story. In the beginning if we have been reading the other books we want an immediate connection with Eugenides and even promise of the role he's going to play before we're ready to plunge into what has been happening to Sophos -sorry I mean Sounis-- all this time. There are also some things that need to be to be expressed from inside the minds of other characters toward the middle of the story. Having him relate where he has been to another character is the obvious solution.

The story is exciting and intriguing and it ends happily (oops is that a spoiler?) but even though Sophos gets everything he's after I'm left feeling a little sad for him. He's just so convenient to everybody. His dad, Eugenides, the magus, Edis. They don't ask him if he wants to do things for them. He does of course but they don't ask. I don't know what that will do to their relationships in the next books. (there are supposed to be two more but, alas Ms. Turner takes so long to write her books)

In conclusion. Read this book. It is fabulous.

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