Monday, April 2, 2018

MMGM: The Traitor's Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen


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 Nielsen does a great job of creating fiery characters who almost immediately find themselves in trouble up to their eyeballs.  The Traitor's Game is no different.  But this story follows the fortunes and misfortunes of two main characters, Kestra, the daughter of a very powerful man in the country of Antora's government, and Simon, a member of the resistance group called the Coracks.  After three years in exile, Kestra is on her way home when she and her entourage are waylay-ed.  With her servants' lives on the line, Kestra is forced into agreeing to help the Coracks retrieve a magical item supposedly hidden at her home of Woodcourt.  Simon and a girl named Trina are sent with Kestra to ensure that she follows orders.  But Kestra has plans of her own and they don't involve helping traitors and betraying her own family.

But as so often happens the plans of Kestra, Simon, and Trina don't go off without a hitch.  The tension between Kestra and Trina threatens to derail all their plans and Simon's feelings about the girl he used to know aren't all hatred.  The point of view switches between Kestra and Simon, giving the reader a glimpse into the mind and heart of each as they struggle to accomplish their objectives.  The tension between Simon and Kestra goes back and forth between attraction and loyalty to their respective causes.  But as Kestra faces her father again and even Lord Endrick, the evil ruler the Coracks are sworn to destroy, she starts learning things that shake her faith in the life she's always known. 

Finding the Olden Blade, which offers the only hope of defeating Lord Endrick, offers Kestra a chance of rescuing her servants and helping her country.  But both Kestra and Simon are walking a very fine line between loyalty and betrayal.   Is there any way out of this mess that leaves them both alive? 

Nielsen has written an action-packed, thriller of a novel.  Kestra and Simon are both sympathetic characters that I found myself caring about, even though they are on different sides as the story begins.  But the author does a fantastic job of writing a compelling story that I read quickly with lots of twists and turns.  There are hints about where the story is going to go but interestingly, the characters know more about certain things than the reader, which makes the reveals all the more of a shock.  I can't wait to read the next book!

Note: There is some violence in the book because of the nature of the story (revolution).  There is also some kissing.

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