The King of Attolia

This is the third novel in Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series so if you haven’t read the first two (The Thief and The Queen of Attolia) but you plan to then stop reading now to avoid spoilers! If you have read the first books but not the third, these are the reasons why you should continue the series:

The second novel ends with Gen, the thief of Eddis, becoming king of Attolia and the third novel is all about his new life and all the complicated situation he’s put himself in. Unlike many men, Gen never wanted to be king of Attolia, all he wanted was to be with the queen. Being king was something he had to accept if he wanted to marry the queen and now Gen needs to learn to live his new life in a new country surrounded by people who hate him. The Attolians doesn’t accept him, the Captain of the Guard is a constant thorn in his side and his attendants do everything to make his life hell. Political controversies brew in the Attolian capital while Gen drags a random soldier from the royal guard into the political craziness. But it’s not a random soldier and Gen is not doing it for his own amusement. As always, the former Thief of Eddis has a secret agenda with everything he does.

It took me over three months to read this book but that is because a number of reasons, one of which is not, however, that I didn’t like the novel. It’s the opposite, actually. I really enjoy this series and this might well have been the best of the three novels. As always, Whalen Turner is an excellent writer and Gen is just as perfect as always. He is a great main character, he can make you laugh, he can make you angry and he always makes you question how it is that he seems to know everything about everyone. Most importantly, he grows very much in every book and it’s really nice to see him evolve throughout the story. His tentative and sweet love story with the queen is also lovely, mostly because it’s important for him but it’s not mentioned very much. There are no love-dovey scenes between them because the book, the entire series, isn’t about their relationship. It’s about them as people, about their country and about their neighbouring countries. The love story is subdued and it makes it even better and even sweeter.

In this novel we meet a new character in Costis, the guard Gen promotes for seemingly no reason. At first Costis, like most people, dislikes Gen but the more he’s around the new king the more he starts to respect the former Thief of Eddis. Costis brings a new and interesting perspective to the story and with him comes the possibility to see Attolia in a new and different light. We also get to see Gen from a new perspective and Costis is, in my opinion, a great addition to the novel. He has his own side story but the main focus stays on Gen and Attolia’s monarchy.

What I like the most about this series is the fact that nothing is ever as it seems and Gen is so good at tricking people in his surroundings, however, he manages to trick the reader as well. He keeps surprising me and I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble he gets into next and how he’s going to try and get out of it. Whalen Turner's story about the Thief of Eddis is certainly one of the best fantasy novels out there and you should definitely give it a chance!

Obsidio

A bit over four years have passed since I first heard about Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff's first collaboration, The Illuminae Files. It's been three years since I read the first novel and about five days since I finished the last. I needed some time to process it all before I sat down with my review but now I'm ready to write about this last piece of an incredible ride across the universe. If you’re interested in the series but haven’t read the first two books, turn away now because this will not be spoiler-free.

In the first two novels, Illuminae and Gemina, we meet Kady, Ezra, Hanna and Nik who all got their own problem. The planet that Kady and Ezra lived on, Kerenza IV, got attacked by BeiTech and they’re escaping on a space ship trying to get to Jumpstation Heimdall, where Hanna and Nik live. They, in turn, have no idea what’s going on at Kerenza until BeiTech sends a crew of assassins to kill all residents on the Jumpstation and shut it down so no one outside of the Kerenza part of the universe will ever know what BeiTech did. The four teenagers work together to save each other, and the universe, but once Heimdall is destroyed they have no other option than to travel back to Kerenza IV and hope that there’s something left of their home.

Obsidio picks up right after Gemina ends and we finally get to see what happened to the planet after Kady and Ezra left it. Kady, who believed her cousin Asha was killed in the initial assault from BeiTech, has no idea that her cousin did, in fact, survive. She’s working as a pharmacy intern but she’s also a big part of the local resistance. BeiTech wants fuel for their portable jumpstation, Magellan, and they’ve kept a few of the locals alive to achieve this goal. Those who weren’t seen as valuable ended up dead. Asha knows her people need to do something or everyone’s going to die once BeiTech has enough fuel to finally leave the planet. She’s in the middle of trying to figure out a way to save her friends and family when she meets Rhys Lindstrom, a very handsome young man who’s something of a tech genius and who works for BeiTech. He also happens to be her ex-boyfriend. All the while, the 2000 survivors from Kerenza IV and Heimdall are onboard the Mao speeding toward the planet and BeiTech gets closer and closer to have a working jumpstation again. Asha needs to find a way to take BeiTech down without her ex-boyfriend getting in her way.

This novel is told like the first two, as a file with documents from chat logs, radio transmissions, video surveillance footage and so forth. I love the way it’s told but the second and third book have a lot of video surveillance footage compared to the first and that’s something I didn’t quite like. I would’ve enjoyed more chat logs and such, it was a little boring to just read the video footage but besides that the layout of the novel was great.

The third book introduces two new main characters in Asha and Rhys and there’s nothing wrong with them in particular but while the first two novels mainly focused on Kady/Ezra and Hanna/Nik and their respective storylines, Asha/Rhys had to share half the novel with the story that took place on the Mao. They’re so new and got so little chance to develop that they didn’t feel quite as real and believable as the other main characters. I wasn’t completely sold on their story-line either. They used to date three years prior when Asha lived elsewhere. When they broke up Asha realised how bad they were for each other and accepted that they shouldn’t be together because of that. Yet somehow, on a speck of ice far from the core system, right between dead bodies and evil soldiers, sparks fly between them. I was supposed to root for them just as much as I did for Kady/Ezra and Hanna/Nik, but I didn’t. They were a good example of an unhealthy relationship and it brought the novel nothing good that they fell for each other again.

Seeing the other main characters were fun and it was also interesting following them during the aftermath of everything that happened at Heimdall. I remember saying, after I read Gemina for the first time, that I thought Hanna got over her boyfriend, Jackson, very quickly to move on to Nik right away. It didn’t bother me quite so much the second time I read Gemina, but those old thoughts popped back up during Obsidio. Hanna is trying to recover from the loss of her father, accepting that she’s now an orphan and that her boyfriend of six months lied to her every single day of their relationship. Her grief regarding her father was addressed in the novel and it felt real, yet despite that I still couldn’t get on board with the fact that she opened her heart to Nik so quickly. It made her, known as a tactician, feel not quite as intelligent as I knew she was.

As I mentioned, about half of the novel took place on Kerenza and the other half on the Mao. It was fun to see both sides simultaneously, but it was harder to connect to Kerenza and the people left on the planet. It also felt like the storyline on the planet was rushed and it made it even harder to connect to what happened there. My two biggest problem with the novel, however, was this:

Throughout the two first books, Kaufman and Kristoff have surprised readers with plot twist after plot twist and I expected something extraordinary from Obsidio but I didn’t get it. Instead it rather felt like they reused things they’d already used before, making it very easy to predict what would happen. There wasn’t a moment when I was chocked and that was a big disappointment. I was prepared to be shaken to my core, to be heartbroken, but I was neither. It was a huge let-down since Illuminae and Gemina took my breath away time and time again.

The other problem was that everything was so convenient. Things just happened to fall into place, everything just worked out like it was… written in a novel. I know it’s not actually real but I’m supposed to feel like it is. I’m not supposed to see the writers behind the words, see how they pull the threads and that the characters are nothing more than puppets. But whenever something happened things just… fell into place. Everything was just solved. I was never afraid that they wouldn’t make it and the authors gave me more than enough crumbs to figure out who would survive the finally battle well before the end. It almost felt like the authors were rushed when writing this, like they just wanted it all to end. It was the thing that made me most disappointed, how the novel seemed to lack that perfect balance between action and character development that the first two novels had. Did I like Obsidio? Yes, I absolutely did. Did I love it? Sadly not. I will certainly read it again, but it will have to wait. It wasn’t the amazing end I hoped for, but it was a solid one nonetheless.