This is the second book in Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series, aka the series of sequels to The Thief that I didn't know existed until very recently. It seems to take place not too long after the thief, and spans a couple of years, but the feel is very different from the original book.
First, this book switches to a third-person point of view, instead of the first-person one used in The Thief. The new point of view is necessary so that the plot can feature periods focused on the titular Queen of Attolia, the Queen of Eddis, and sometimes a few other characters when they're not in the direct presence of Eugenides. This has the side-effect of not everything being from Eugenides smug perspective; one my least favorite parts of The Thief was how bratty Gen was and how much I wanted to smack him across the face because of it. That's also greatly lessened here because the book starts with some events that give Gen a serious case of PTSD for the duration of the book, though of course the characters don't know what PTSD is.
The other way in which the book is vastly different from the first is the theme. The first book, while it involved political wheeling and dealing and deceptions, but it was first and foremost and adventure story. That's not the case here. This is definitely a political story rather than an adventure one. There are still adventurous parts carried out by Gen, but they mostly take a back seat and definitely aren't described in the same level of detail as his theft of Hamiathes' Gift in the first book. Instead, the focus is on the brewing three-way or even possibly four-way war on the continent int he story, and how the Queen of Attolia is getting her country further and further entangled while trying to keep her head above the water. While this is interesting, combined with the more violent content it means that this is aimed at a decidedly older audience than The Thief was. It's a strange disconnect and I think it could be very off-putting to someone expecting something similar to the first book in coming to this second one.
I think those two big differences were either beneficial to (the first) or neutral to (the second) the overall "worth" of the book. However, there was one thing about the book that I didn't like. Ultimately, what's at the heart of the book is supposed to be a love story. However, I didn't buy this for one second. It's no more a romance than Love In A Time of Cholera is a romance. It's more a story of obsession than one of love and feelings, and it leads to a very strange-feeling ending. There's an attempt to back-fill the gaps here by saying it's been going on for longer than this book, but it's not a very convincing one, not in the least because it still only fills in one side of the story. And then there's another attempt at, "I didn't know I loved you until..." But there's really no reason or opportunity for these two characters to fall in love, particularly after what they've done to each other. Ultimately, this felt like an attempt to add another dimension to appear to older audiences, but I don't think there was enough of a foundation there to build this aspect on.
Overall, I liked this book, and it seems like the third book is going to narrow back down from this large, three-kingdom scope to a narrower one again, focusing more singularly on Eugenides. I'm looking forward to reading it--so this book kind of feels just like a stepping stone to that one. But still decent!
3 stars out of 5.