Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Traitor Queen


Book Title: The Traitor Queen
Author: Trudi Canavan
Series: The Traitor Spy Trilogy #3
Date Started: October 26th 2014
Date Completed: November 1st 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery
Rating: Four stars

This novel was a great end to the Traitor Spy Trilogy and I really enjoyed it, but it definitely isn't as good as its prequel series - the Black Magician Trilogy. Though this series is much more focused on the political side of the world, since the characters are all older, I think the threat lacks a little bit and there's a restricted sense of adventure. But it was still great.

Tensions between Sachaka and Kyralia are higher than ever, and with the revolt between the Traitors and Ashaki across the sea, and the battle for power in the city's underworld, Sonea feels another war approaching. She must travel to Sachaka to try and bring peace, or at least a promise of safety for her people, as well as her son who has decided to join the revolution and consequently has strained the ties between the Guild, the Traitors and the king.

Canavan was one of the first high fantasy authors I ever read, and I've adored her writing ever since. She's got an amazing talent at wrapping numerous stories together into one big story, but still letting each have its own personal significance. I also love the personalities and experience put into the narrative even though it's told through 3rd person. To have such a complex world and variety of beliefs and cultures, you've got to be able to support it with a complex narrative - and Canavan does this and more.

From the previous books right up the beginning of this one, you can tell that something serious is building up in Canavan's world. The characters are tense and wary, the ties between the Guild and the foreign countries is weakening, Skellin's reign of power over Kyralia's underworld is becoming stronger. This was brilliant because no time had to be wasted really to build anything up - events could start happening right away.
I have to admit, this didn't happen quite as I expected it to, as it still took quite a while for things to pick up, and consequences were considerably less impactful than I thought. However, there was still a background of tension and implications throughout the whole thing. Especially in the political portion of the book. I absolutely love the politics for Canavan's world. While it's still complex and echoes both the corruption and success of existing or past governments, it's shown from quite a few different angles, as each character's position is explored.
This is another thing that's just amazing about these books: the intertwining stories. It's not as rare as it used to be, but I've read very few books that master the knack of switching between narratives so smoothly and in a way that the reader can click back to the different people and their situations. The way each story usually quite forcefully impacts the others definitely helps to keep track of things.
The ending, as you've probably already gathered, was a bit anticlimactic for me. I still thought it concluded everything very nicely and had enough action to keep me happy, but it just didn't reach the same scale as I've seen Canavan achieve before.

My favourite thing about this sequel trilogy has to be seeing all the old characters again, and where they've progressed from. I really wish some of the older friendships were included more (especially Sonea and Rothen's) but I appreciate that the story does make this hard.
Sonea continues to be my absolute favourite character, and she's such a great heroine. I've loved reading how she's matured since the last trilogy, but also how, due to her background, she does tend to look at everything around her in a very different way, and at times still seems quite young. But, particularly in this novel, we really see her take on her responsibility and protectiveness over Lorkin. (Slight spoiler ahead) I also really loved her growing relationship with Regin. It was so nice to see how they'd grown as people into liking each other after their past, and having a romance that wasn't from a teenage perspective, but also wasn't driven by sex or situation.
Lorkin is another character I have a fondness for. Though I admit I didn't find his chapters too interesting most of the time, he's a great character and watching his methodical mind working all the time wherever he is is a great link to his parents.
I was really happy that Dannyl was included in more than just the politics this time, as well as not just with his lovers. He was forced into a few situations that were out of his comfort zone as the war started, and I think the way he dealt with them, and with both Tayend and Achati was really interesting. And he's just a lovely, lovely person.
Lilia and Anyi's parts of the book were, unfortunately, the most boring to me. I think the biggest problem I had was the rest of the book is very serious with much older characters, so when we jumped back to an equally serious situation, but with younger characters, I just found it slightly hard to adjust fast enough. I did, of course, love Rothen and Cery's inclusions in these parts however, and I think I would've got along with their story earlier on had they both been featured more.

Being a high fantasy novel, Canavan's stories rely a lot on background knowledge and the gradual understanding of the world. So, at times, the pacing can maybe seem a little slow, but as you progress on you realise that actually everything's very important. And, personally, I love the depth of the world in this story so I'd happily just read about it for a whole novel without much need for anything else.

The Traitor Queen didn't disappoint me, but it was slightly underwhelming considering what I've read before from Canavan. However, I still enjoyed it enormously, and it did conclude the trilogy nicely. If you like fantasy, world-building, intertwining stories, fictional politics, magic, a little bit of action and light romance then the Traitor Spy Trilogy is brilliant. But 100% read the other books first, particularly the Black Magician Trilogy (the series this is a sequel to) or I think it'd be quite hard to understand and you'd get less out of it.

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