The Traitor Queen
Book Three of the Traitor Spy Trilogy
by Trudi Canvan
Fantasy | 509 Pages | Published by Orbit in 2012
| Rating |
If you’re a reader of my Top Ten Tuesday posts, then you might have noticed that Trudi Canavan’s The Traitor Queen has been appearing on rather a regular basis. This is one of those books that I intended to read as soon as I bought it but managed to neglect until oh… you know, several years later! The Traitor Queen is the closing chapter in the Traitor Spy Trilogy, and while it doesn’t reach the exciting, dizzying heights of The Black Magician Trilogy, it is still a rather entertaining read.
The Traitor Queen concludes the story which opened with The Ambassador’s Mission and continued with The Rogue.
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. Lorkin has also 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.
This book has, probably quite rightly, received very mixed reviews and despite the criticisms, I still found this to be an enjoyable read. It might not be heart-thumpingly-awesome, it might not have those breathtaking qualities that some of Canavan’s other work possess but it is entertaining and the overall storyline is well thought out. The Traitor Queen manages to expand upon and add detail to the world so beautifully drawn out in The Black Magician Trilogy and brings about a satisfying, if a little lacklustre, close to the trilogy.
Canavan writes in an accessible and gratifying way, giving insight into the thoughts and feelings of the characters whilst providing careful doses of description throughout. Everything that should have happened did happen – that’s not where the problems lie; they lie with how each of these events unfolded. All the action is packed into the latter half of this novel and when it does occur it is somewhat rushed; we’re left with a final battle where not a lot happens and pivotal scenes where I was left wondering if I’d missed something. I would rather this book had been twice the length and had given more play time to these elements than have rushed through them in 500 pages.
And though there is much to enjoy in this novel, the one thing which The Traitor Queen is seriously lacking is tension. Tension, tension, tension! And then some. The action needed more tension – more do or die moments, more close shaves and descriptive destruction; the romances needed more sexual tension – less of the predictable, the safe and the ‘nice’; the politics needed more political tension – more danger, more intrigue and more terrible consequences. The Traitor Queen had the potential for all these things, the stage was already set! It just failed to give them enough page space or execute them in a satisfying way.
While all the main and supporting characters are essentially likeable and have a lot to offer, I would have enjoyed more growth and development throughout the novel. It was a shame that Sonea, our fantastic protagonist in The Black Magician Trilogy, had such a small and insignificant role in this book and though I enjoyed the development in Regin’s character, his role was too small to really make much of an impact. Lorkin doesn’t quite manage to live up to the expectations of a protagonist in a Canavan novel, nor does Tyvara succeed as well in her role as the main love interest. Having said that, I didn’t dislike any of the characters, nor did I dislike the novel – The Traitor Queen merely suffers the fate of not living up to the expectations created when you write something truly awesome.
The Traitor Queen is a tale of conflicting loyalties, of trust and of power which develops and adds insight into the world Trudi Canavan has created. This is a quick and easy read which, despite some issues, has a lot going for it. While this might not be the breathtaking read that The Black Magician Trilogy was, The Traitor Queen is still enjoyable and will probably receive far too much criticism for having such a brilliant predecessor. If you’re new to Canavan, I seriously urge you to read The Black Magician Trilogy or The Age of Five. If not, you could do much worse than pick up a copy of this trilogy!