This is the fourth book in the series unofficially known as "The Queen's Thief". Sophos, who is heir to the country of Sounis, hopes that he will never have to fulfill that role. However, his father has tried to prepare him for the throne, providing tutors who have instructed him in swordsmanship and battle strategy, as well as book schooling. One day, his villa is attacked, and Sophos is kidnapped and his estate is burned. He is sold into slavery, working for a power-hungry baron. After Sophos escapes, he discovers he is now King of Sounis. Unfortunately, the Mede Empire would like to rule all of Sounis, Attolia, and Eddis. It falls to Sophos, now called Sounis, to provide a solution that will allow his people to live in peace and freedom.
A Conspiracy of Kings was a fabulous adventure, filled with action, intrigue, romance, and even some mythology references. The plot is extremely complicated, filled with subplots and many characters. I had to keep a running list of characters and refer to it frequently! The descriptions of the characters, battles, and scenery were stunning, filled with minute details and nuances. It was interesting to see how Sophos matured from an unwilling heir into a true leader, outwitting the scheming barons. There is a surprising and unexpected twist at the end of the book!
Although this book could be read as a stand-alone volume, it would be advisable to read the preceding volumes first. Since I had not done that, I had to do some research in order to figure out what had happened previously in the series. Additionally, it took me awhile to figure out that once someone becomes a ruler in his country, he takes the name of the country. Hence, Sophos becomes Sounis because he was the King of the kingdom of Sounis.
A Conspiracy of Kings was on the "2010 Booklist Top Ten Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels for Youth" and was named a "2010 YALSA Best Fiction Nominee for Young Adults". I highly recommend it for middle school, high school, and public libraries.