Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia Series
Attolia series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia) and I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about them. In short, I thought The Thief was well-wrought and compelling. I found The Queen of Attolia almost unbearably boring (it got interesting for a bit around page 150 and then again at the end) and I only finished reading it in the hope that it would get better. I liked The King of Attolia, but the only reason I read it is because I already had it checked out of the library.
The books of the Attolia series are set in a "Byzantine-like imaginary landscape." Attolia is one of three competing nations that fight amongst themselves in the shadows of the vast Mede empire.
The Thief is a well-deserving Newbery Honor Book. Gen, short for Eugenides, is the titular character and the novel's protagonist. He's a thief whose boast that he can steal anything from anyone is challenged when he's expected to steal Eddis' national treasure. While The Thief does have a strong storyline, it is really character-driven and the cheeky Gen is an interesting and sympathetic character. I loved the revelation at the end of the book and the fact that I hadn't seen it coming.
As mentioned above, I did not care for The Queen of Attolia. I didn't have a problem with the story's horrific beginning. Overall the pacing of the story is quite slow and despite expectations (based on The Thief and on what happens to Eugenides at the beginning of The Queen of Attolia) much of the novel is not focused on Eugenides, but rather on the political situation and maneuverings between the various countries. There are spots of interest and excitement, but if I hadn't enjoyed The Thief so much I probably would have given up on The Queen of Attolia.
Overall I thought that The King of Attolia was much better balanced than the The Queen of Attolia. While The King of Attolia is about Eugenides, he's not really the protagonist of the novel. Much of the novel follows Costas, a member of the Attaolian King's Guard.
While Eugenides is the driving force of the series, he's seems less and less present in the later books. In The Thief readers see everything from Eugenides' perspective and the series progresses we see him and his perspective less, focusing more on others' perceptions of and misconceptions about him.
I'd put myself on the waiting list for the fourth book in the series (A Conspiracy of Kings) before I started The Queen of Attolia so I may read it when my name gets to the top of the queue, but I may not.