The fourth book of the Queen’s Thief series changes main characters again. This time, honors go to Sophos, returning from a primary character role in The Thief. The first section of the book is entirely arranged as him telling what has happened to him recently. Unlike most places where this is used, the point at which the tale is being told is about a third of the way through, but even though it breaks up a bit at that point, the storytelling doesn’t entirely stop, though much of is generally in the present again.

As I expected, the wider stage of politics is more of the driving force of this book. Sophos is the heir-presumptive to Sounis, a country currently tearing itself apart in a civil war, invaded by Attolia (two books back), and a target of Mede ambitions. The novel does an excellent job weaving a plot from rich material, and even better, works through Sophos’ insecurities, and how he motivates himself to get going. (“Now the choice was mine, and once it was made, I would have no right to blame anyone else for the consequences. Loss of that privilege, to blame others, unexpectedly stung.“)

It should be a fine place to enter the series fresh. Turner is obviously making sure these are all separate stories that can be enjoyed independently. However, having read the earlier books will certainly help here, and I certainly recommend starting from the beginning.

I think this is my favorite of the series so far. The return to the wider stage of The Queen of Attolia is welcome, and the examination of a man who would be king is well done. There is still a habit of purposefully leaving a couple things out of the narrative purely for a late reveal, which tends to irritate me a bit. However, it’s a bit more natural, and certainly not the gaping hole The Thief had.