A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. ★★★★
A Conspiracy of Kings is the fourth book in the Queen’s Thief series, and I would suggest you at least read books two and three beforehand – The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. While plot of the fourth book mostly stands alone, there’s a lot of background politics going on that it would be useful to have read some of the previous books for.
Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, reappears unexpectedly in Attolia. Where has he been all this time? A Conspiracy of Kings tells the story of Sophos’s adventure and the beginnings of his rule as king.
The series is often classified as YA, but aside from the shorter length and the lack of “adult content,” it’s not very different from most non-YA second world fantasy novels. Actually there is one major difference: there’s no magic as such in this series. However, the gods of the kingdoms to appear to actually exist to some extent and the main characters may have meaningful dreams or receive divine assistance.
The overarching story of the series has been the Mede Empire threatening from across the sea. Due to the existence of the Great Powers on the continent, the Medes cannot attack Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia directly unprovoked. But in A Conspiracy of Kings, the Medes have taken advantage of a rebellion within Sounis to play for power.
Sophos has always been more interested in poetry and philosophy than ruler ship, but the events of A Conspiracy of Kings will force him to take responsibility and make some hard choices. To what lengths will he go to protect his country from the Medes?
While The Queen of Attolia remains my favorite novel in the series, I thought A Conspiracy of Kings was definitely a solid installment. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes thoughtful, character based fantasy.