Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Review: Traitor's Knife


My perspective on this book is that of a reader who hasn’t read the first in the series. Naturally, some of my opinions will reflect that. It took a few chapters, for instance, for me to become invested in the story, but the characters slowly grew on me and by the middle I loved them.

This is decidedly a sequel, so I’m sure reading Jeweler’s Apprentice would increase the enjoyment of the first couple chapters. Still, by the ending, this stood on its own as a complete story, while leaving the reader wanting more. The third book in the series isn’t out yet, but I’m looking forward to reading it when it is.

Throughout the book, there were typos and grammatical errors, and some cliché phrases. Most didn’t affect the smooth reading, but as an editor they’re also difficult to skim over. But while errors and trite wording can sometimes be distracting, the characters and plot are what ultimately decide a book’s worth—and Traitor’s Knife has both.

As implied above, Kaiser assumes the reader already knows Fia and many other characters—as should be expected in any sequel. Since this was my first introduction to them, it took me a few chapters to learn who they were and begin to care about them.

Normally, that would be too far into the book. In my opinion, the first or second chapter should be enough for the reader to become emotionally vested in at least the main character. Some readers might quit reading if it’s longer. For a sequel, however, I believe this is acceptable—and by the end I was completely concerned about the characters’ fates.

The author uses a somewhat limited third person point of view throughout the novel, mainly focusing on Fia, but sometimes moves to the perspective of other characters. This usually worked, though there were a few times the perspective changed suddenly and it became slightly confusing. This interrupted the flow of reading, but only for a moment.

The characters are likable, evoke sympathy, and are realistic. That is possibly the highest compliment I can give an author, since in my mind that is the goal of character development, and I’m a reader who prefers character-driven plots. The “bad” characters aren’t completely evil, and the “good” characters aren’t without faults of their own. The book strikes an excellent balance and reflects the real world in their complexities.
There is a lot of wonderful description throughout the book, and it places the reader right into the scene. There were times when perhaps some of it could have been pared down, but for the most part it added to the book. It also taught the reader (at least, this reader) something new. I feel I know more about how horses behave now that I’ve read this, understand the day-to-day life of a jeweler’s apprentice, and have a good idea of how to cast jewelry.

Fia, Willex, Ilido, and sweet, little Yori are characters that will stay with me. The plot moves forward at a good pace, and there are some gems within the wording—parts I would have highlighted if I’d been reading a print version of the book. This is a great story. Readers who enjoy historical fiction will delight in the fictional world Kaiser so clearly paints.

Although I haven’t read Jeweler’s Apprentice, I would recommend reading that book first to get the most out of this one. If it’s anything like Traitor’s Knife, you won’t be disappointed.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review.

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