Overall Impression: FEELS. SO MANY FEELS.
(To read my review of the previous book from The Traitor Spy Trilogy, The Rogue, click here.)
Don’t you just love how majestic and powerful this cover is? The whole thing is so slick and bold, I really love it! When life is stressful or getting a little overwhelming I always know that I can turn to Trudi Canavan to brighten my cloudy day. The Traitor Queen was no exception to this and felt like a breath of fresh air. This is the last book in the Traitor Spy Trilogy which takes place 20 years after the events in The Black Magician Trilogy. I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with how Canavan tied everything up in this last novel. Once again I find myself feeling sad because I have to say goodbye to so many of my favourite characters all over again!
Please note: For those of you that haven’t read the previous Black Magician Trilogy or the The Ambassador’s Mission, this review will contain spoilers about previous plots and characters from those books. However, this review will not contain any major spoilers for The Traitor Queen.
Events are building to a climax in Sachaka as Lorkin returns from his exile with the Traitor rebels.
The Traitor Queen has given Lorkin the huge task of brokering an alliance between his people and the Traitors, and Lorkin has had to become a feared black magician in order to harness the power of an entirely new kind of gemstone magic. This knowledge could transform the Guild of Magicians – or make Lorkin an outcast forever.
The Traitor Queen picks up right where The Rogue left off. Tensions within Sachaka are mounting and Lorkin has been given the difficult task of promoting communication between the Guild and the Traitors with the hopes of forming an alliance. Plans go array however when Lorkin is sentenced to prison by the Sachakan king for refusing to share information about the rebel group. Trapped by complex politics and duty, Lorkin must now decide where his loyalties lie.
Ambassador Dannyl begins working on a way to free Lorkin, which causes tension between Dannyl and his powerful Sachakan friend. It is becoming increasingly clear to both of them that war is on its way, and they are on opposite sides of the chess board.
Meanwhile, Black Magician Sonea and her assistant, Regin are granted permission to leave the Guild and travel to Sachaka. Sonea’s mission is twofold; to reunite with her son, Lorkin and to cement an agreement with the Traitors about a possible exchange of magical knowledge that may have the power to transform everything the Guild has been taught to believe in.
Back in Imardin, Cery the thief, his daughter Anyi and his bodyguard Gol have been forced into hiding by the rogue magician Skellin, who is slowly taking over the underworld by controlling shipments of a drug named roet. With the help of young novice turned Black Magician Lila, will the group finally be able to banish Skellin and restore order to the city?
Phew, that was difficult to summarise, there is a lot going on in this book!
As with all of Canavan’s novels, her writing really impressed me. She somehow manages to balance every day realism with a completely magical world. Her writing is so detailed and specific that it feels as if Kyralia could be a real place, that it may exist just over the next horizon. Her ideas are innovative from her explanations of how magic works to creating realistic political conflict where she has created her own rules and regulations. It’s the little things that make her world special. I love her word choices and sentence structures although some may call her style a little meandering, to which I would agree. She’s not a fast paced writer but she is thorough and thoughtful without going over the top. I never feel like she is pushing too hard to be insightful or dramatic, her style is natural and that is one of the many things I love about it. It only took me a few sentences to be enveloped into the magical world she had created. I especially like the way Canavan crafts romances between characters which was particularly apparent in this book. It’s so minimal and yet it works. Relationships develop through mutual love and respect rather than lust. They sneak up on you quietly, barely making a sound and sometimes take three novels to even materialise. I love the subtly of her writing. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a good dramatic romance, it’s one of the many reasons I read so much YA . However, it seems as if these kinds of relationships are in every book I pick up these days, and it’s important to have some light and shade. Plus, by Canavan making you wait so long the romances are all the more satisfying/squeal worthy when you get to them!
The plot of The Traitor Queen was so much better than the previous books, mostly because STUFF ACTUALLY HAPPENED. My biggest complaint about this series so far has been its slow pacing. Both The Ambassador’s Mission and The Rogue spent far too much time switching back and forth between characters’ story lines with not a whole lot happening. While I still enjoyed the stories enough I did get frustrated. Thank goodness, I didn’t have this problem with The Traitor Queen, I’m not sure my poor Trudi Canavan loving heart could have taken it! This book hits the ground running with a brilliant first chapter that thrusts you straight into the middle of the action. I still found the point of view changes a bit frustrating at times but in this book it was for a good reason. I would get so invested in the story line I was reading but then Canavan would make me switch to another one. Then just as I was immersed in that she would switch it again! It was like a clever form of literary torture, dragging the tension out for as long as possible until the reader is ready to burst with the desperation of wanting to see how it all ends. I did feel that some of the story lines were rounded off better than others, for instance the culmination of hunt for the rogue magician Skellin was a little anti-climactic for me, but in contrast the that the storyline with the Traitors had me glued to the pages with an intense stare. As for the last couple of chapters, I would have yelled at anyone who dared to interrupt me! The end of this novel turned me into an emotional mess, it had me grinning uncontrollably, giggling (and I NEVER giggle) and also brought a tear to my eye. The epilogue tied everything up brilliantly but also left room for more books in the future if Canavan ever decides she wants to write them.
As for the characters, I warmed to Lorkin even more in this novel. I wasn’t that bothered by him when he was first introduced and he has been a bit of a slow burner for me. While I still feel he is less rounded than many of the other characters (which is a little worrying considering I would say he is the main character in this series) he gained some more personality in The Traitor Queen. He is forced to mature and make a lot of difficult decisions which made me respect and admire him more as a character. He is certainly not the overconfident naive man he used to be and I have enjoyed following his epic adventure from start to finish. Lila also surprised me in this book, I found her frustrating in The Rogue but she seemed to gain more common sense in this novel. I loved her sense of loyalty and the way she embraced her new role within the Guild with a level of pride. Anyi has fast become a favourite of mine, I love her spunk; she doesn’t let others intimidate her and she has an ability to project confidence even in the most awkward situations. I loved watching her relationship with her father blossom in this installment which made for a lot of fun scenes. Ashaki Achati has become a favourite of mine too, I loved his playful interactions with Dannyl and his wit and humour always put a smile on my face.
As always, I was happy to be reunited with many of the original characters from The Black Magician Trilogy who feel like old friends to me now. I will forever love Lord Rothen with his fatherly wisdom, Cery the slum thief whose morals somehow stay intact, Regin, Sonea’s childhood bully who I remarkably ended up liking as a character a lot and of course, Dannyl, the lovable scholar who gets along with everyone. Special mention has to go out to Sonea, who will probably always be Canavan’s best character. I love her strength, her wit and how cool she is in tough situations. She’s just so damn awesome! I have followed her journey for six books now and it has been fascinating to see her grow and change.
I would recommend this book/series to fans of Canavan’s previous The Black Magician Trilogy. While The Traitor Spy Trilogy is not as strong and takes a while to gain momentum it is a still a must for any fan who will love being reunited with some of their favourite characters and will enjoy the further resolve to their stories. Laughter was had, tears were shed and I was reunited with so many of my old, wonderful friends. Hopefully this will not be the last I see of them! The author has expressed an interest in returning to this world again some day in the future if the whim takes her, and I’m sure all her fans will be eagerly anticipating that day.
And if you haven’t read The Black Magician Trilogy yet, what the heck are you waiting for?!?! How many times to I have to say it?! READ. THE. TRILOGYYYYYY. DAMMIT. 😀 (The use of the smiley face is an attempt to make me sound slightly less threatening and obsessed.)
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Development: 4/5
Would I recommend this book? To fans of The Black Magician Trilogy.
Overall Impression: 4/5
Book Cover: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12970162-the-traitor-queen