Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Traitor Queen

The Traitor Queen, Trudi Canavan

Gah!  What a fantastic book!

This is the first trilogy of Canavan's I have read, and I will be reading more after finishing The Traitor Queen (released in bookstores, today).

The Ambassador's Mission and The Rogue were literary achievements -- there's no disputing they are intelligent and interesting.  The final installment is a crowning jewel; when read with all of the groundwork laid before, it is a stupendous book.  I can't stop throwing superlatives around, can I?  Readers returning to Imardin and Sachaka are rewarded for their patience with a fast-paced, action-rich finale -- complete with battles, traps, loss, love and a few good scenes of stickin' it to the bullies.

This book also gave me more surprises, a deeper affection for the characters, and a serious desire to read more books linked (but chronologically spaced) to the series.  If this trio at all sets a pattern for her other works, I will gladly take a careful pace through the build-up books for the thrill of the final climb and drop on a Canavan rollercoaster.

  • Sensuality in these three novels is treated with subtlety.
  • However, love is not the driving force of the narrative in book one, nor is it paramount in the subsequent two (although it is a reoccuring theme and motive for some characters).
  • Multiple storylines are given equal attention and play out with careful balance in tension to match.
  • The masculine young hero throughout is noble and honourable, but not the most talented -- a refreshing shift from many epic heroes (and certainly a deviation from the mighty Kvothe).
  • Other characters (arguably equals to the young masculine one), lie exquisitely within the grey areas between good and evil (this becomes richer and truer with each book).
  • The female characters pack much of the punch....and it's okay, and believable.
  • The problems to be solved are quickly presented in each of the novels.
  • The story in the first two texts is steady, but not fast.
  • All three are well-written (not just great action -- and I've been known to forgive weaker writing for great action!).  The sophistication of Canavan's world-building is a warm invitation to trust her.
  • There is some terminology and language unique to the realm portrayed, but it is not overwhelming or overdone -- leaving you feeling an outsider struggling to grapple with all that is foreign -- but is a careful measure of foreign element to make it other-worldly.  There is even a glossary.
  • Although much was foreseen in books one and two, it was beautifully played out.
  • One and two also tie and leave untied equal measures of strings at their close -- nicely done.
  • Just when I began to cringe at the thought that part of The Rogue's narrative was becoming weighed down by a contemporary political voice, BAM -- what seemed indulgent and almost tiresome became not only relevant, but impressive.  That storyline became the one I was most absorbed by.
Although there is reasonable effort at catch-up exposition in The Traitor Queen, I recommend reading the first two books if you wish to heighten the ride of number three.
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