Mar. 27th, 2017

[identity profile] live-momma.livejournal.com
This week we’re reading from the beginning of the Prologue, "The queen waited..." through the end of Chapter 5, "...knowing himself entirely guilty of what the king had not condescended to assume him of."

Prologue + Chapters 1-5 of The King of Attolia
These discussions are spoiler free for the new short stories, “The Wine Shop” and “The Knife Dance,” as well as the “Thick as Thieves” arc.

There will be spoilers for books 1-4, so if you haven’t read all the published books yet, proceed with caution.

Prologue
The prologue gives us four little snippets, each is Turner giving the reader hints about the main players in this book.

In the first Attolia waits for Attolis on their wedding night. We get a glimpse at the difficulty of their union, but also this: "Today she had yielded the sovereignty of her country to Eugenidies, who had given up everything he had ever hoped for, to be her king." And with that one line she reminds us that Eugenides never wanted to be king, as demonstrated in the final scene of Chapter 19 of QoA.

The second shows us Ornon's schadenfreude at the new king's "fetters". He seems almost sinister. In case you'd forgotten, Ornon almost succeeded in making Eugenides "safely dead" in Chapter 2 of QoA.

The third introduces us to Costis, a responsible guard whom the captain, Teleus, respects. They both believe the king to be "Attolia's most dangerous enemy." We find out later (Chapter 14) that Eugenides intended to "change the mind of the man next to {Teleus}." This is the first peek at their minds.

And the final tells us that Relius fears the king and wants to limit his powers. Which is ironic since the king doesn't want to rule and the king is the one who saves him from the queen's punishment.

Chapter 1 - Wait until your father gets home!
While Eugenedes and Costis wait for the Queen to come home from hunting to issue a punishment, we learn that Costis's best friend is Aristogiton called Aris and that Costic came from a land-owning (petronoi) farm family, but that Aris's family are landless okloi. We are introduced to Laecdomon (whom the king could do without) and Legarus the Awesomely Beautiful guard and Sejanus. We learn that the king is most unkingly in dress and manner and that he has not lost his ability to enrage people.

    "He said the only thing worse than being wrong in a family argument was being right."

    "You don't walk like a king, you don't stand like a king, you sit on the throne like...like a printer's apprentice in a wineshop."


Chapter 2 - Now you've done it!
The queen comes home, and the king neatly chains Costis to Teleus. Costis is volun-told to be the king's sparring partner, and Teleus agrees to start doing his job. When the king lets Costis see a glimpse of his real self, Costis thinks he's still dissembling.

    "Unkingly, in so many ways, My King. Not the least of which is listening to your guard tell you so."

    "A snake," repeated the queen.
    "A black one. A friendly one."

    "I didn't know, Your Majesty." It wasn't an excuse. It was an admission of failure.

    "Were you lying?"
    "I never lie," he said piously. "About what?"


Chapter 3 - Making your life miserable.
Teleus makes it clear that he expects better things from his men, even if he doesn't actually respect the king, and Costis skips his first sparring match (but not the second) and gets his first taste his new responsibilities. Aristogiton is pretty sure he delivered the note to release the hounds, the king continues to sneak about in his own palace (which no one realizes, even when they see him!), and Costis has not lost the respect of his fellow guards, which baffles him, and the king promotes him to lieutenant.

    "So, so, so," said Aris, "at least my honor will be intact."

    "Shall we begin with the first exercise?"

    "Your guard is low," Eugenides said calmly...

    "When breakfast was over, the king stepped around the table and bet to kiss his wife's cheek."

    "I was listening," the king said, aggrieved. "I closed my eyes to listen better."
    "What did you hear?"
    "I'm not sure," he said. "That's why I was listening so closely..."

    "Out on the steps, Costis stopped to look at the schedule. He stared at the sheet in consternation. The king hadn't needed to hang him; he would be dead of exhaustion within the month."


Chapter 4 - Keeping your life miserable.
Sejanus leads the pack in bullying the king, and the king picks on Costis in turn. Costis receives mysterious study guides. The king gets a lesson in wheat, makes a joke, and sits alone in his room.

    "Sejanus liked his jokes. Costis was growing tired of them."

    "Thank gods I didn't ask about fertilizer," he said.


Chapter 5 - Secrets.
This chapter is very long! Relius witnesses the king's reluctance to rule but misinterprets it. The king visits Artadorus in the middle of the night, and he, too, misinterprets it. Sejanus continues his quest to irritate the king, and the king does the same to Costis. Dite writes a song about the King's Wedding Night, the king loses his temper over it, and Costis earns a day off to recover.  Ornon is no longer pleased that the king is not. The undersecretary for provisions to the navy nearly takes a very short trip to meet Eugenides's cousins, the queen offers the king some wine, and the king requests a dance instead. Eugenides tells Dite that the queen cried on her wedding night, which makes Dite his friend. Costis tells the king he would never reveal confidential information, then does so with both the queen and Baron Susa, and the valet tells him what he overheard Sejanus and Baron Erondites discussing in the baths. The assistant to the Ambassador from Eddis maneuvers Eugenides into building a bridge. Relius is arrested.

    "Don't give up hope just because chances are slim."
    "For the assassination or the heir, Your Majesty?" asked Costis.

    "He wondered how the Attolians thought Eugenides had managed to become king if he was the idiot they assumed him to be. Perhaps because they had never seen him as the Thief, with his head thrown back and a glint in his eye that mad the hair on the back of a man's neck rise up... As a ten-year-old boy, the Thief of Eddis could stop a grown man in his tracks with a single look."

    "Don't be afraid. Before I stole Hamiathes's Gift out from under your nose, these were the only dances I knew."
    "I am not afraid," she said coldly."
    "Good," said the king. "Neither am I."

    "Spare me," said Attolia, "and my court, from dancing on the roof."
    "It probably only works in Eddis."

    "I would never stoop to revealing information I knew was private."
    "Not even if you don't like the person whose privacy you are protecting?"
    "Especially not then."

    "Costis walked on through the palace and down to the Guard's barracks, knowing himself entirely guilty of what the king had not condescended to accuse him of."


Closing thoughts:
If this book is Costis's Hero's Journey, Chapter 5 brings us to #6 TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES. Everyone is being positioned for the main action. Relius's arrest is less important than his absolution later on. Costis is still only beginning to empathize with Eugenides, who is actively avoiding being the king. He would still much rather be the queen's husband and Thief.


Next week we will continue with KoA chapters 6-10 lead by [livejournal.com profile] agh_4!
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