The Traitor's Game

The Traitor's Game
The Traitor's Game Book One
Written by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
400 Pages
Published July 1st 2018
Thank you to Scholastic Australia
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★★★★
Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won't stop her from being drawn back into her father's palace politics. He's the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip.

A group of rebels knows this all too well and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home. The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary.

As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what and who it is they're fighting for. Jennifer A. Nielsen introduces us to an unforgettable new heroine in this epic tale of treachery and intrigue, love and deceit.
Kestra Dallisor has been summoned home by her father, a garrison of soldiers ensuring her compliance. Upon her journey, Kestra is captured by the Corack, a rebellion alliance and escorted to her father's palatial residence in Highwyn as handmaiden and footsoldier. The Corack alliance are pursuing the Olden Blade, an artefact to subjugate the immortal Lord Endrick and his oppressive reign.
The Princess
Sixteen year old Kestra Dallisor is a formidable and coarsened young woman, ostracised by her father to the desolate Lava Fields. Henry Dallisor is a malevolent and treacherous persecutor, second in command and enforcer representing the immortal Lord Endrick. Kestra is summoned to Highwyn to be exploited as a commodity for political advantage, her betrothal will ensure the compliance of neighbouring regions under the reign of Lord Endrick, her father unconcerned of the freedom for his daughter. During her journey, Kestra is held captive by the rebellion, a group of unrelenting recruits tenacious in their pursuit for sovereignty, her handmaiden and footsoldier held as assurance for her cooperation and allegiance. 

Her Captor
Captain Grey Tenger, leader of the Coracks has assigned Simon Hatch to accompany the Princess, his objective to retain the Olden Blade. Simon is acquainted with the Dallisor lineage, as a young boy within the palace compound until accused and sentenced for theft.

Often in young adult literature, characters placed within precarious positions find solace within one another, consumed by the intensity of the narrative. Kestra and Simon are coincidental companions, physically attracted to one another. Their tentative companionship is disingenuous and mistrustful. Simon wasn't anticipating a young woman, tenacious and spirited to challenge his patriotism to the Corack revolution, creating a precarious alliance.
The Blade
The Olden Blade is believed to be buried beneath the dungeons of the Dallisor Highwyn residence, infused with Endrean alchemy by Lord Endrick. The mythology maintains that the blade was wielded during the War of Devastation by a young woman before her capture and sentence. Only those of Halderian lineage can wield the blade and the denouement of the Endrick reign. To ensure the survival of her Footman and Handmaiden, Kestra is coerced to find the blade, endangering the lives of the Corack if captured. She's placed in an inconceivable, treasonous position.

Tell Me More
I'm optimistic that the next installment will traverse the greater Antora kingdom and the politics between regions under Lord Endrick. The Traitor's game only touches upon the impoverished conditions beyond Highwyn. Is the desolate landscape and socioeconomic collapse consequences of conflict?

In Conclusion
While the overall young adult fantasy narrative was marginally repetitive and conventional, I really enjoyed the characterisation and the mythology infused narrative. Highly recommended for reluctant fantasy readers.

11 comments

  1. Immortal king, mythology. Dang! I'm sold!

    xx
    Vanessa
    Blushing Geek

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    1. It's a brilliant read Vanessa, you'll really enjoy this one too. Would love to see your thoughts!

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  2. This sounds right up my fantasy kick-ass princess loving ally. Great review. I hadn't heard of this series before. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Such a great read Sarah. I love milder fantasy novels, they really allow non high fantasy readers like myself to be fully immersed within the narrative. I can't wait to see what you think of this one too!

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  3. Two characters usually end up falling in love somehow, but it sounds like this one isn't the case? At least not yet? (Not ever hopefully - that would be interesting to read.) I hope the sequel will answer all the questions you have, Kelly, and lovely review as always! 🤗

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    1. There is an attraction and potential romance but thankfully it doesn't overwhelming the overall storyline. Thanks Sophia, rely looking forward to the next installment.

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  4. I'm a reluctant fantasy reader lol So maybe I'll give it a try.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I'm very much the same Karen. I enjoy fantasy but have never been able to read high fantasy so these genre fusion books are perfect for me.

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  5. This sounds like it's still trying to find it's feet and stand out from the conventions of the genre. It sounds like a great start though!

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    1. A wonderful read Verushka and one where I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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  6. I received an unsolicited review copy of this one and I've kept it because I really liked the sound of the story. I am all for political fantasies, and it sounded like this one fit the bill perfectly. Now, after reading your review, I am still really keen. It sounds like a chosen one/special artifact story, and I haven't read one of those in a long time. Plus, you mentioned good characterisation, which is a big plus for me!

    Thanks for the great review, Kell <3

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