01/04/2012. Contributed by Sarah Bruch
pub: Orbit. 509 page hardback. Price: GBP16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-591-0.
This first novel in ‘The Traitor Spy Trilogy’ follows on from ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’, twenty years into the future. The reader encounters a very different magic guild peopled with the novices we got to know in the previous trilogy.
Trudi Canavan has split this novel into two main stories, one happening in Kyralia focusing around Sonea and Cery. The other story is in Sachaka and looks more closely at Sonea’s son, Lorkin. Both these stories are interesting in their own way. Lorkin has been invited to become an aid to the ambassador to Sachaka (Dannyl). While in Sachaka, we learn more about the Sachakan people and those living around them, for example, the Traitors. Dannyl and Lorkin are set the task of investigating the magical history of Sachaka along with becoming friendlier with the Sachakan nobility. This gives Canavan a great opportunity to give her readers a great deal of information. Meanwhile, in Kyralia, excitement is created around the deaths of several high profile thieves, putting Cery and his various family members into danger.
This book shows the reader a great deal more about the Sachakan people, showing them as a very interesting culture rather than the faceless enemy as in previous books. We learn about their slave culture, how their hierarchy works and also a little more about the different magics they can use. The Traitors are also shown in an interesting light leaving the reader wanting to know more about them and I’m sure we will learn more in subsequent books. I certainly want to learn more about how their city actually works.
Throughout the book, we hear from many different voices in many different places. Canavan has a habit of swapping between different characters and scenes very quickly in the middle of a chapter repeatedly. I found this to be a little disconcerting and didn’t enjoy this, I prefer a little more of an obvious break between different voices. However, I did enjoy the fact that the different voices gave a more interesting and rounded feel to the story rather than centring on just the one person.
I enjoyed seeing how all the novices had turned out after the previous trilogy, however, it did have the feel of a Harry Potter Turns Thirty. This should be something readers look forward to, but it is slightly disappointing on the whole. This book certainly feels like a young adult fantasy novel with no swearing and very few highly chaste sex scenes. The humour and the moments of peril are so slight they hardly register within the rest of the book. This does have the effect of making the book a little boring for my tastes.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, but it isn't one that I would want to return to. I will continue to read the series because they are enjoyable, but they aren't very exciting to me. Maybe I've been reading too many urban fantasy novels for this to hold my attention.
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