Reynwood’s Reviews: The Queen of Attolia


Title: The Queen of Attolia

Series: The Queen’s Thief

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 of 5

When Eugenides, 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…

My thoughts:

Amazing! Incredible! As riveting as everyone says it is!

Too enthusiastic? Not sorry, it was just that good . . . even this second time around. Instead of just Eugenides’s point of view, we get to see the events scroll out from the perspective of several different characters this time, giving more depth to both the story and the cast ─ as a whole as well as individuals. We get to see how Eugenides, our indelible thief, gets himself in a nasty pickle (again), unwittingly drags four countries into war, struggles with his fears, and masterminds a solution that rocks the world (at least that’s how it felt. I’m glad no one was watching me as I read the last few chapters ─ talk about embarrassing. But that’s a sign of good story telling, when the reader gets so invested in the people and events).

I really appreciated the strategy and politics involved as Turner navigated a three/fourish-way war, it kept me thoroughly engaged as both a reader and writer, who is always seeking to learn how to improve my own craft. This is a great sequel, and I am very excited to begin the next installment.

Megan Whalen Turner is the author of short stories and novels for children, teenagers and adults. She has won the LA Times Book Award for Young Adult LIterature, a Boston Globe/ Horn Book Honor and a Newbery Honor. She won the Mythopoeic Award and was shortlisted twice for the Andre Norton Award.

Check out her page on Goodreads, or visit her website for more information on her great books, awards, and other neat stuff!

Today’s the last day to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Adventures in Isle – including a series bookmark – so don’t miss it. Also, today is also the last day to snag a FREE ebook copy of Adventures in Isle over on Amazon – no limits! Except maybe the sky, but since we’ve been going beyond Earth’s atmosphere for so long maybe that’s not so restricting anymore. The moon! The stars! We’re really getting out of hand here!

(Ahem!) Anywho, check out both!

On Characters: “. . ., I Choose You!”

Good day to you, readers, from the far hidden corners of the realm! Has the undulating weather of this March made you mad, yet? Bonkers? It certainly feels indecisive, doesn’t it? Warm and even balmy to overcast and blustery in a matter of hours, and then back again ─ if spring came as abrupt and resolutely as winter does, how different might things be? Ah, but there’s no sense in complaining, as it doesn’t serve to change a single thing.  All we can do is take it as it comes and trust in the Lord to carry us through!

Anywho, today we’re continuing on the theme of characters. The question I have here is:

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Well I (personally) resent that question ─ we don’t play favorites in this house! So I’m going to ignore that one and move on to the next:

If you could spend time with a character from your book, whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Tough. Question. To narrow down the vast spectrum of characters I have thus far, I’ve decided to limit this inquiry to within the context of the Journey Taken. Although, having made a list (roughly 200+) that doesn’t make it a whole lot easier. That said, I thought about ignoring this one, too, or putting it on the back burner for later, because I couldn’t possibly choose. That’s like picking a favorite, right? And I’ve already said we don’t play favorites in this house. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think it an interesting question, so I gave it some consideration ─ just whom would I like to spend a day with? And it happened that, as I was thinking, my thoughts kind of muddled from ‘who I would rather spend a day with?’ or ‘what I would do with this person if I had a day to spend with just them?’ into ‘what would they do, if they had a day to just chill, do whatever they want?’

Intriguing idea, no?

Well, I think Iris might like to go out to the town and spend the day looking at all the wares, maybe do some shopping. She probably wouldn’t mind having Jonquil along, too. Jonquil, on the other hand, if he had a choice, would most likely want to get away from town, probably go on a meandering hike type thing alone in the woods by himself with no one around to disturb his exploration, hunting, and nap in a spot of sunshine. Teryn would probably wander around town, too, until she found an alehouse and/or archery range. Maybe dominate the archery range and then hit the alehouse. Fwip would tag along, though for different reasons. His day of just doing whatever he wanted would leave him a wealthier man and lot of others less so. Keeping him otherwise occupied would protect the more honest side of the economy, I believe. We all know Thock would keep an eye on him, and outside of making sure his younger brother doesn’t get himself into horrible trouble, I don’t think he’s ever given much thought to what he would like to do given a day to do anything he wanted. He’s a very focused man. Sergil might just relax and knock a few back at the alehouse (and preferably not the one Teryn’s patroning), but he’d most like to spend his day with Lyla, whatever it is she might be doing. To not be rushed away and hounded by world-shattering responsibilities would be a dream come true, he might say. And Lollen? Pft. Well, Lollen would only be found at the library, tucked behind a mound of manuscripts. It’s how he grew up, after all, and old habits, old inclinations, die hard. As for Raleigh and Xanthus, Raleigh might not know what to do with himself for a while, actually. For so long his life has been directed by others that the freedom of choosing what to do with his time would baffle his brain. He’d then proceed to scramble for a way to spend his day (every idea likely involving work of some sort. Helosite leisure time, when it rarely shows its face, is usually spent doing something else productive). Although, deep down, buried under all that indoctrination and learned habits, some time with Robin, Ryner, and Xanthus, unbothered, would be his favorite. A day where he could be with them and forget what all he’d been through and bask in the company of his loved ones without the nagging possibility of being pulled away for some task elsewhere. Xanthus wouldn’t mind doing any of that, either. I don’t think he’d know what to do with himself, overwhelmed by the possibilities of what all he could do and all the things he didn’t think he could do. His first reaction would be to find a familiar face and stay with them. But if asked, and after some intense consideration, he’d spend his day with Raleigh, and probably wouldn’t mind having Robin and Ryner along, too. At least for now, until he learns more about himself as a person ─ and a free person at that.

So if you asked me who I would spend a day with (in the context of TJT), I still couldn’t tell you. So let me turn this question around and ask who would you like to spend some time with? And please, let me know in the comments!

Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to enter for a chance to win a FREE copy of Adventures in Isle! The giveaway ends the 27th, so there’s only a few days left! Each copy comes autographed and with a series bookmark.

And now, starting today and running until the 27th as well, you have the opportunity to own free of charge an ebook copy of Adventures in Isle! Already have one? Why not tell a friend? Books are best shared, so spread the word!

On Characters: Real or Figmentation?

Greetings, readers! March is already well underway (practically half over already!) and I find myself constantly boggled by how the time flies. For the next couple of weeks here we’re going to focus on characters, answering a couple of questions about their development and working with them and all that great stuff.

This week’s topic is (drum roll, please) . . .: Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Answer: No and yes, but then yes and no. Confusing? I agree. Allow me to explain.

When I first began this TJT project, most of the characters were actually based off characters from the story that inspired TJT. But a good deal of them I made up on the spot and as I went. I made no conscious effort to model my fictitious creations after real-life individuals (living or dead). However, the longer I worked with them and the more they developed and the more I got to know them, I began to see some parallels in people I know. Of course, every last one shares at the very least one trait with myself. As their author that’s pretty inevitable, even we as humans share that image with God, our maker and author.

I saw in Iris long ago quite a bit of myself (and a whole lot of what I wish I could be (she’s far more kind and compassionate and much less squeamish than I am)) Since then I found myself asking the question of ‘how would I react in that situation?’ How she interacts with the company is pretty heavily based on how I might (or think I might) behave in the same environment.

Jonquil is very similarly so, but I discovered one day that he shares a lot of traits with my elder brother. The anxiety, the reclusiveness, the lack of appreciation for heights (which I LOVE), among others. While the two are very different, I couldn’t help but notice the synonymous personalities, and, for me, it just makes the two that much more endearing.

Sergil is not so much like me as he is my father. He might even look a bit like my father (if dad had a once-broken nose, brown eyes, and longer hair . . . so maybe not so much). Both spent some time in the armed forces (although my father (thankfully) never saw war) and have that kind of discipline. Neither are exceptionally deep when it comes to expressing their emotions to others, and they like to get things done ─ sitting around waiting and doing nothing is most certainly not on their list of favorite things to do. (Not to make my dad sound like a stiff person, because he’s really not at all).

These three expressed the most noticeable congruencies with real people around me, which just goes to show the influences people have, that they can weasel their way into character development without mine or their intent. My characters all started out purely from my imagination, but the imagination is fed from the people and relationships and environments and experiences surrounding us. It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw that said ‘Be careful, or you’ll end up in my novel’ ─ which I think is great and totally true.

So, no, my characters are not based off real people and yes, they’re entirely from my imagination, but then, yes, some of my characters are influenced by real people so, no, they’re not pure figmentations. Does that make any sense? I guess this just goes to show that my character development process is still unripe!

The Goodreads Giveaway for Adventures in Isle is still underway, with only two weeks left, so don’t miss this opportunity to enter for a chance to win one of seven autographed copies, each with their own series bookmark!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Thief


Title: The Thief

Series: The Queen’s Thief  #1

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

“I can steal anything.”

After Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, the chances of escape look slim. The king’s scholar, the magus, needs the thief’s skill for a seemingly impossible task ─ to steal a hidden treasure from another land.

To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.

My thoughts:

I picked this jewel up at a library book sale one day, thinking it might be interesting. Little did I know what I was getting into! Every time I read this (and it’s been several, by now) I can’t help but admire how Turner tells the story with such an ease that takes you along page by page. It’s one of those, “Oh, just one more chapter” kinds of stories, and ten chapters later you realize it’s one in the morning. I couldn’t bring myself to put it down (yet again). A good story is a good story no matter how many times you read it.

The narrative itself is written in first person (which, I unreservedly admit, isn’t my personal favorite POV) but even so I enjoyed it. We read from Gen’s point of view, and even though we’re privy to his thoughts, we still don’t get the full scope of what’s going on until the end. We’re still able to learn about Gen bit by bit throughout as the event progress, and I liked that.

The story flows smoothly from one part to the next in a style I can appreciate as both a reader and a writer, and you just can’t help falling in love with the characters. Ambiades is a total snot, Sophos is adorable, Pol’s steadfast devotion is admirable; I found the magus to be a little layered, not especially endearing at first, but once you get to know him he’s actually a pretty nice guy. Gen . . .  Gen is a piece of work. He admitted himself that his own tongue has gotten him into most of the fixes he’d suffered, and his wit certainly is sharp. He’s got a strong will, but not always as selfish as he’d like us all to believe.

You can’t help but like him.

With such a great cast of characters on a quest that turns into a bit more than any of them bargained for, The Thief is a tale well worth the read time and time again.

Learn more about Megan Whalen Turner on her website or Goodreads page, and don’t forget to grab a copy of The Thief to read for yourself!


Let the Adventures Begin

Hey, y’all! How’s everyone’s March so far? Over here we’re waiting for a sap season revival so we can make some more maple syrup (so good). I was supposed to be here a couple days ago (sorry) but a technical goof on my part postponed what all I have to announce. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

With the onset of March, this month we’re ‘celebrating’ volume 3, Adventures in Isle!

The cover didn’t receive such a dramatic change as the previous two, but I did update it a wee bit, having it brightened up and the text layout switched up a mite. I like it better, and (more importantly) it’s more symmetrical with its forebears.

The updated interior is also pretty sweet, and you can now get this 425 page beauty for your very own collection:

Also, the Goodreads giveaway for this volume is already underway, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to vie for a chance to win a free copy! There are seven available ─ all signed ─ and each comes with a super cool series bookmark that will only increase the awesomeness of your reading experience.

And with that I must say adieu for now ─ there’s a lot of work to do in preparation for next month!