Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Angry Robot (June 5, 2018)
Length: 400 pages
My Rating: 3 stars
The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston is best described as an action-packed video game come to life; a thrill ride of adrenaline, action, blood, and intrigue wrapped up in a story centered on one man’s pursuit of justice. Not every second of the book will dazzle you, but overall you will find yourself having a fun time and wanting more, more, MORE!
Edrin Walker is a liar, a scoundrel, and a damn dangerous magician. His past misdeeds and a deal with the rulers of his home city of Setharis having sent him into ten years of exile; these years spent wandering around the wilds, hiding from daemons who constantly pursue him and attempting to find some form of excitement to pass the time. His dangerous and dull existence only made tolerable by the knowledge that his absence from Setharis keeps his friends Lynas and Charra and their daughter Layla safe.
Then tragedy strikes!
Edrin and Lynas have always shared a magical connection, able to feel each other, sense the other’s joys and pains, even catch fleeting visions from each other’s eyes. And this is generally a good thing until the night Lynas is killed!
Without warning, Edrin is jarred by a vision of his best friends frantic flight from a daemon; the creature stalking Lynas down the alleys of Setharis, finally cornering and taking him down. A mysterious man then appearing to torture and skin Lynas alive. The final thoughts of the dying man that he must get a message to Edrin, warn him of what is going on in the city.
Brutal shock. Bottomless grief. Towering rage. And a touch of deep fear and confusion fills Edrin. His first thoughts that Setharis’s masters have broken their part of the old bargain, allowed harm to befall his friend, even though he has stayed away. The next is an overpowering sense that Charra and Layla will be in danger and that he must go to them, protect them. And, finally, Edrin wonders what exactly was his friend doing to attract the attention of such a heartless killer and whether his past deeds were the real cause of Lynas’s death.
Naturally, the rest of the book chronicles Edrin’s return to Setharis, his search for Lynas’s family, his investigation into the murder of his friend, and a descent into mysterious matters which will reveal the past to Edrin and cause him to question many things he thought he knew.
As I alluded to in the opening, The Traitor God is an action-packed thrill ride where the author drops you down into the middle of the maelstrom, doesn’t waste time explaining every facet of the story, and expects you to ride the wave of controlled chaos as it ebbs and flows from the beginning to the end. Or to put it another way, there is never a dull moment in this story. And it mostly works, providing an exciting tale filled with mystery, twists, magic, and loads of fantastical mayhem.
The main triumph of the novel would have to be the main character, Edrin Walker, whom I can’t say I really liked very much at the beginning of the story. Sure, he had some charm and a mysterious feel to him, but his egotistical nature was a bit too much for me. However, Cameron Johnson actually takes this guy on a real character arc, starting at the aforementioned egotistical loner start line before steadily molding him into a much deeper, more complex, and interesting character by the end.
The only real complaint I’d make toward the story would be the tendency of the author to tell not show, especially in the beginning of the book. I realize it is difficult to resist the urge to cast out proverbial life preservers in the form of paragraphs of explanation to readers after you’ve thrown them into the middle of a story maelstrom, but if you’ve determined to start in the middle of the action, you really have to let your audience survive on their own. Trying to split the difference between fans of slow, methodical plots and sink or swim lovers only serves to frustrate both types; neither of whom feel you’ve totally committed to their preferred narrative pace.
Overall, The Traitor God is a damn fine read. Sure, it is more oriented toward action lovers, having a tendency to skim over intricate plot or subtle character development in favor of more bloody fights or magical explosions, but if you are craving a fast paced, magical fantasy with plenty of action and more than a few twists, then this novel will not disappoint you.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.