Monday, March 5, 2018

Book Review: The Traitor's Game (The Traitor's Game #1)

Release Date: February 27, 2018
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Length: 400 pages
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

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.



Protagonists: Kestra Dallisor is the daughter of the king's right-hand man, Lord Endrick, a cruel tyrant and Kestra's father isn't too different. After years in exile, Kestra's return home is ruined when her carriage is attacked and she's forced to make an agreement to find a legendary blade that's supposed to end Endrick's evil rule. Accompanying her is Simon, a boy from her past who's now one of her kidnappers. I was really interested in these characters toward the beginning of this book, Kestra isn't the type of girl you'd usually root for at the beginning of an adventure, she's hot-headed, stuck up, and rude and acts every bit the Dallisor she is. Simon's feelings toward Kestra at the beginning of this book are muddled at best and the bonus of having to actually be her protector and watcher on this mission doesn't make him too happy. Simon's more or less blindly loyal to his cause, as is Kestra and seeing these two individuals embark on this mission and discover more about who and what it is they're fighting for is amazing and seeing them come into their own over the course of this book was phenomenal.

Romance: The romance in this story is rather interesting. I mean, for a book that takes place over five days at most the romance moves rather quickly. I mean, I understand they have a history and it's not like I didn't root for them, but I do feel for characters that are supposed to despise each other at the beginning of this book, despite their shared history, wouldn't change their feelings as much as they do in the time that they have. Again, it's not as if there's nothing to root for when it comes to this couple, in fact, there's something about them that just fits so well and I really do hope these two can find a happily ever after, I just felt that Simon and Kestra's feelings changed too quickly and I wish there had been a bit more resistance on both sides before giving into their feelings.

World Building: The lore and history of this world are really interesting. This story takes place in a kingdom that still feels the effects of a dramatic take over as it hasn't been so long since the shift in power and finds thee groups fighting for control of this kingdom and those that get caught up along the way. I have to say, for a world that talks about magic and a magical tyrant a lot, we don't really get to see much magic at all, which I understand as not only is this the first installment in the series and that showing and explaining the magic system would prove difficult given nearly no one actually has magic, but I just wish I understood it a bit better to know just how threatening our main antagonist is. Still, I was captivated by the history of this kingdom and how it is that our main characters do what they can to carve their name in it.

Predictability: This author is brilliant when it comes to telling a story, she knows just what secrets each character will keep and just who knows what in this world and then sort of sets the reader on this scavenger hunt to figure everything out. While there were a few twists that were obviously coming that I was practically begging for something on, because it's bad when a twist comes out of nowhere and you're shocked beyond belief, but to know it's coming and having no real idea what "it" is can be pretty torturous.

Ending: There were quite a few facets to the end of this story. While the true final climax of this book was one of revelations and change, there were quite a few scenes prior to the end of this book that were full of climactic tension. In fact, I was surprised how many times it felt like the final climax was delayed but was still treated to moments of tension and action. There is a short cooldown period to this book, more getting things in order for the next book than really setting it up, but there is a rather exciting cliffhanger that will leave me waiting for the next installment with bated breath.


I loved this book, I thought the characters were fantastic and the world was really interesting, and while I there were a couple of things I would have wished to see different, I still cannot wait until I can read the sequel!


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