‘The Traitor Queen’ is book three of ‘The Traitor Spy Trilogy’, although technically it’s book six of a larger series of books set in Kyralia starting with ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’. Of the two series, I would say that ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’ is the stronger of the two. Given that Trudi Canavan is now writing a different series set in a very different place and time, I think this is probably the last we’re going to see from Sonea and the Magicians Guild.
As usual in Canavan’s books, we are following this story from various different viewpoints. Sonea is trying to get to her son, Lorkin, who is presently in Sachaka. Lorkin has the unenviable task of trying to broker some kind of deal between a group called the Traitors and Lorkin’s people, the Kyralians, using the production of magical gemstones in exchange for healing powers as an incentive. At the same time, Cery, Anyi and Gol along with newly created Black Magician, Lilia, are trying to capture or kill Skellin, the renowned thief killer. As you can imagine, as this is the third and last book in the trilogy, most of these stories come to some kind of conclusion, although there are some areas left open in case Canavan wishes to come back to this world.
I found that I got into this book a lot faster than ‘The Rogue’, the previous one in the series, but this could be because I marathoned them a little so there wasn’t much time for me to forget about the characters. I also found that the first few pages were probably the best in the whole book as they really caught my attention and we were following some of my favourite characters in the series. Unfortunately, it did all go a little downhill from there.
Overall, I have to say I was disappointed with both this book and also with ‘The Traitor Spy Trilogy’ as a whole. It just seemed to be so placid, with no massive magical sequences at all. Even when one of my favourite characters died, it didn’t really make me feel anything, when normally I would be in pieces when something like that happens. Everything just felt very flat, the characters and the storyline didn’t have any kind of pacing or sense of tension building towards the final battle. The writing was quite pedantic with regards describing things that I really didn’t want to know about, which is odd given that I found multiple errors and, at one point, the wrong characters name was used part way through a scene! I think as a reader I just have to accept that Canavan is a very slow writer, she is not one for highly paced or exciting stories.
There were so many different elements in this story that could have been so much more interesting, some of which were only very vaguely used in the main story. For example, the magical stones which interested me greatly as a way for non-magical people to use magic were only very vaguely looked at. One element in particular, with regards their use, which I can’t go into in great detail as it is a massive spoiler, wasn’t even brought to a tidy conclusion at the end of the trilogy. To be honest, it felt like at times Canavan didn’t really know what she was writing about but she was just going through the motions.
I would say that if you’ve read all the other books in the previous ‘Black Magician’ and ‘Traitor Spy’ trilogies then you should read this one merely to ensure you’ve finished the trilogy. However, if you don’t read it, I don’t think you would be missing out massively, the ending is obvious and even the deaths aren’t a great shock.
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(pub: Orbit. 518 page paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-596-5)