KING OF ATTOLIA, by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow/HarperCollins 2006).
Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, is now married to the Queen of Attolia. Goofy and apparently ineffectual, he is despised by the Queen's guardsmen and courtiers. When Costis, a guard, punches him in the face, Eugenides punishes him by assigning him to be his personal lieutenant. In that office, Costis comes to realize that not all is as it seems. Political intrigue and subterfuge abound as the King and Queen attempt to unite their fractious, short-sighted barons to face the threat from the neighboring Mede Empire.
KING OF ATTOLIA is a sequel to THE THIEF (HarperCollins 1996) and QUEEN OF ATTOLIA (Greenwillow/HarperCollins 2000) and is probably best read after those. As in the two preceding novels, in KING OF ATTOLIA, Turner offers well-rounded, genuine characters who are much more than fantasy archetypes; a realistic pseudo-Byzantine world; and provides a fascinating plot evocative of the Great Game and the Balance of Powers.