I must say that I was a bit disappointed with this installment of the Queen’s Thief series. I just feel that the writing, here, wasn’t as tight as its predecessors… that Turner wasn’t as careful in the crafting of her novel. But that doesn’t mean the book was completely deprived of good parts, as there were some elements that were in fact rather well done.
I do like that Turner changes her narration in each of the books in the series. In this installment, she resorts to a split narrative, rather reminiscent of the kind Dickens used in his novel, Bleak House
: third person omniscient storytelling interlaced with sections of first person narration. I like how this method gives the reader more insight into the protagonists, allowing for more development of character, as well as providing a wider view of the world in which we’re reading. Sophos does have a good narrating voice and I liked that it juxtaposed Eugenides’s narration in The Thief
. But in terms of this novel, Sophos’s open and honest nature actually makes a good contrast to the omniscient sections of the text, which highlight a certain underhandedness in the court diplomacy that’s described. Thought this was handled well.
Nevertheless, I found myself developing a love-hate relationship with parts of Sophos’s sections. Part of me liked that these sections read like an old couple’s fond reminiscences of things past: “Ah, yes. I remember it well.” In that sense, it made me smile. But, on the other hand, I also found that it detracted from my reading experience. It made the reading somewhat jarring, especially when, as a reader you’re expecting to have a smooth read. For instance, at the end of first section Sophos begins to reference “you” in his narration. Initially, it made me stop and question my reading, wondering to whom is he referring. His audience the reader? Eddis? Though I did immediately figure it out. Another thing that disappointed me about this storytelling device is that Turner is not really consistent in her usage of it, as some sections either begin or end without these references. That inconstancy made me begin to question if Turner really needed to include this.
Another thing that bothered me, in terms of the plot, was the fact that some of the events described are clipped, and not fully explained. For instance, at one point in the story there’s an arrest, the person being accused as a traitor to the king. The king visits said prisoner, then leaves. The next chapter has the prisoner back at his old post almost as if nothing had happened. There’s never any real description of his ever being pardoned, though I can somewhat understand why he's back, considering the saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer.”
That said, overall the book is rather entertaining, but for me it missed some of the beautiful crafting that made the preceding novels something special.