This book moves away from Gen’s point of view even more and gives us a whole book with Sophos. The first time I read it, I really wasn’t a fan; Sophos was too often passive, too prepared to just let things slip by and become a slave, for rather nebulous reasons about it being easier. It actually worked better for me this time; I knew that the action was coming, so that probably helped, and I do love the interaction between Sophos and Eugenides. Once more it shows the difficulties for Gen in becoming a king: the fact that he can’t just have simple friendships, but must decide how to play at politics with his friends to his own and his queen’s advantage.
The first part still is rather wishy-washy, with Sophos just slipping into slavery and making no apparent effort to get out of it. As a narrator, he just doesn’t have the tenacity of Gen, and big chunks of the book are spent away from Gen, unlike in The King of Attolia. Still, this time I did think that the interaction between the two was worth the price of entry, and Sophos’ relationship with the queen of Eddis is also kind of, well, adorable.
If Costis’ narration in the previous book bothered you because it wasn’t really a book of action, there is more action here. Sophos has a kingdom to win back and defend, and he’s very much active in doing so. And we see more development of the relationship of the kings and queens of the area to their gods: Sophos learns something of what drives Eddis, revealed previously to Gen and the reader.
Overall, it’s a weaker book than the others, but it stood up surprisingly well to the reread.