There has always been something about these books that bothers me and makes me unable to rate them 5 stars. At first, I didn't know exactly what it was, but after the third instalment I realized what my problem was. I LOVE foreshadowing, and being able to engage with the story and guess what might happen next, even though I may be wrong. The problems with these books, for me, is that it is almost impossible to predict what might happen next. The twists are so out of the blue, that I am often confused and have to go back and re-read what happened to make sure I didn't miss anything. Despite the explanation after the fact, I still found this extremely irritating.
However, the characters and political intrigue in The King's Thief made it a 4 star read for me. Eugenides, the newly crowned King of Attolia, is still as cunning as ever. He continues to make life difficult for those around him (and for himself), while contending with assassination attempts, unruly attendants, and somehow maintaining a sense of humour. For the majority of this book, he reminded me of himself in The Thief: whiny and self-deprecating. But Eugenides surprises us once again by demonstrating his resourcefulness and intelligence. Insights into his relationship with the Queen of Attolia were masterfully done. The relationship didn't dominate the story, like so many relationships do in ya novels, but we still had some very sweet glimpses of their feelings for one another.
Eugenides' new pet guard, Costis, was a delight to read about. His exasperations with the king balanced nicely with his growing admiration. The relationship between then two was always interesting and intriguing: why did the king suddenly decide to keep Costis by his side? I loved Costis' reactions to what was going on with the king, from anger at his attendants for treating him badly, to mild exasperation at the king's self-deprecation, to grudging respect of his intelligence. Costis' feelings were very realistic, and often reflected the way I was feeling about Eugenides at the time, making the story more real for me.
The political situation in Attolia and Sounis, and the impending invasion of the Medes was also very interesting to read about. The way Eugenides plays Attolia's barons made for an extremely interesting read. Power plays within Attolia, Sounis, and the Medes Empire are coming to fruition. It will be interesting to see how these play out in the final novel. And, of course, I'm determined to read the fourth book quickly to see whether (view spoiler)