27 July 2011

Recent Reading

King of Attolia by Megan Whelan Turner
The third and -I believe- final book in this series.
This volume is told mostly from the POV of Costis, a guardsman who punches his new King in the face for. His punishment is to be the King's personal guard -surely preferable to the torture or death that the Queen would have administered. At first Costis is constantly annoyed by the behaviour of this foreign interloper who has married his Queen and seems completely unsuited and uninterested in court life. However as the story progresses Costis sees new sides to the King and realises that he is not the idiot he seems.
If you have read the first 2 books it is very clear that Gen has become King almost as an afterthought (his plan was to marry the Queen -the rather surprising love of his life). However now that he is King he clearly has some sort of plan. There are several amusing bits, among all the intrigue and it was a good move having honorable, innocent Costis as the main viewpoint character. Any other character would have too much involvement to be a trustworthy, especially Gen.
I liked this book better than the 2nd one (The Queen of Attolia), which was darker and felt very different to the 1st (The Thief).

A Kiss in Time by Alex Finn
This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty written for a teenage market. The story is told in 1st person POV by Talia, an 18th century princess in a small European country, and Jack a modern American teenager.
Talia is Sleeping Beauty and has grown up constantly supervised and warned against cursed spindles -she has also grown up rather spoiled. Jack is sent to Europe by his parents and resents the 'educational' trip that has been forced on him, as a result he also acts kinda spoiled. At first the characters are not particularly likeable, although it is clear that both are reacting against their circumstances.
There's some amusing clash of cultures moments when 18th century thinking meets the modern world. Talia's amazement with almost everything is an excellent counter to Jack's bored cynicism and being treated like an ordinary girl is exactly what Talia needs. As the reader learns more about them both Jack and Talia become more likeable. The main threat is provided by the wicked witch Malvolia who, despite the unfortunate name, is actually just a fairy who was treated very badly centuries before.
This is a nice story, a fairly quick and entertaining read. It uses the Sleeping Beauty fairytale as a starting point, but then become much more about the personalities of the two leads.

Alex Finn is also the author of Beastly, which was recently made into a film. I'm reliably informed by a member of the teenage reading group at work that the film is pretty different to the book.

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