This is a good, all-round fantasy. The second installment of Trudi Canavan’s Traitor Spy Trilogy, it lives up to all my expectations, following the threads on from where they left off at the end of The Ambassador’s Mission: Black Magician Sonea and her search through her home city in Kyralia for a rogue magician; Sonea’s son Lorkin, captured by the rebel ‘Traitors’ in the neighboring land of Sachaka; fellow magician Dannyl and his search for lost magical history, particularly the mystery behind Sachaka and Kyralia’s angst. And it introduces a new character, Lilia, a magical novice who is tricked into learning the forbidden ‘black’ magic by a conniving ‘friend’, and thus becomes embroiled in Sonea’s hunt.
I loved Trudi Canavan’s first books (The Black Magician Trilogy) and The Rogue has given me a craving to re-read this earlier work. The Rogue itself is well constructed and well paced. It is enjoyable, evenly pitched and, though not all-consuming, had me caught up in the story. There’s a good balance of little puzzles woven into the four different yet interlinked plot-lines, some of which get solved along the way, one or two left hanging for book three. As a whole, the story is very cleverly worked out because the reader isn’t left hanging, per se - it doesn’t finish on a major cliff-hanger, but there is enough left unresolved, or enough new ideas introduced toward the end, to make me want to keep reading the series.
My experience with Canavan is that the first book in her trilogies (see also The Age of Five Trilogy) tends to be a little slow to get going, as she sets up the political background, the characters, and their various threads. Book two then takes the story up a notch, furthering the intrigue and character development, before book three where it all really kicks off - the action becomes more intense as all the little threads start to weave together and the denouement approaches. Furthermore, while there are a handful of themes running through the storylines - in the case of The Rogue, ideas of social structure and equality vs inequality stand out - her novels aren’t about ground-breaking theories. They are comfortable, easy. Unchallenging, but with plenty to keep the reader interested, the story moving, the tensions and the puzzles building. I know what I’m going to get with a Trudi Canavan book, and I like that. Roll on August, then, when The Traitor Queen is released.