Part of my 2nds, fantasy, and speculative fiction challenges.

The second book in the fantasy YA series.

Eugenides has been skulking around the palace of the Queen of Attolia. He’s the young royal thief in the court of the Queen of Eddis. He has been in and out of the Queen’s residence several times and the Queen is furious. Finally, he’s caught.

Eddis sends an ambassador to Attolia but doesn’t really expect that Attolia would just let Gen go. At most, Eddis hopes that he can die quickly because Attolia has a reputation as a cruel queen. However, after keeping Gen in jail for some time, the Queen of Attolia decides to just cut off his right hand. Afterwards, she returns Gen to his Queen.

Gen is feverish and sick for a long time. When he recovers, he’s depressed and tries his best to just stay in his room, which happens to be also the castle’s library. But his Queen and his father continue to intrude on his misery.

Without his right hand, Gen feels that his life is over. Even the most mundane tasks, such as eating and dressing, are now hard. When he’s forced to appear in public, people walk on eggshells around him, which only makes things harder.

However, when the war between Attolia and Eddis escalates Gen is needed again.

The plot has some very interesting twists and is centered on political intrigue. I have to confess that I didn’t guess at all where it would end up going. Like in the first book, some information is kept from the reader. I found it a bit frustrating especially when it was something that the view point character, Gen, knew well. However, the new info should make rereading interesting.

Most of the noble characters are referred to by their station and not by their names. The kings and queens are referred to by the name of their land (Attolia, Eddis, Sounis) and some of the other characters by their job; the magus, the minister of war, the ambassador… I liked it. It definitely felt different from other fantasy and more history-like.

I continue to enjoy this fantasy world which is based on the ancient cultures (and the geography) of the Mediterranean instead of the tired old pseudo-Middle Ages. One of the myths told in this book is based on the story of Persephone and one of the major goddess is Hepasthia. Also, the countries here feel smaller. The Queen of Eddis knows most of her underlings by names and most of them are related to her by blood of by marriage. Attolia feels a bit larger, though not as large as most fantasy countries.

Even though two of the countries are led by Queens, the culture isn’t woman-friendly. In fact, the Queen of Attolia has had to cultivate a cruel and cold image so that she’s been able to keep her throne. She’s the other view point character in book.

Weirdly enough, this second book felt more like YA because the other characters commented on how young Gen is.