Rawn, acclaimed author of the "Dragon Prince" and "Dragon
Star" trilogies, continues her latest trilogy "Exiles" here in The
Mageborn Traitor. What she began in The Ruins of Ambrai, Rawn
quite capably proceeds with in this book.
The end of the first book leaves the Malerrisi -- now under Glenin
Feiran's rule -- in a self-imposed exile in their remote castle, while
the Mage Guardians begin to rally around their new young Captal,
Cailet. Sarra has found her place as a politician, aided and much-
loved by her Minstrel husband Collan. This more or less happy state of
affairs opens the second volume of "Exiles." But when Cailet sets out
to deactivate the magical Wards left by the last Malerrisi First Lord,
she must confront several possible futures for Lenfell and for those
she loves most, and none of those potentials is positive or easy.
Worse, the power unleashed by these Ward visions is too much for
Sarra's already troubled first pregnancy, and she loses what would have
been her First Daughter.
The first half of The Mageborn Traitor moves slowly, involving
itself with Cailet's rebuilding of the Mage Academy and Sarra's
restructuring of Lenfell's legal and social code, but mostly it allows
time for Sarra and Collan's twin children, born after the loss of that
first child, to grow up. Both born with magic but Warded by the Mage
Captal to protect them, Taigan and Mikel carry the hopes of their
parents and of the Mage Guardians. The new First Lord of the
Malerrisi has plans of her own for these two, however, and those
plans could result in Lenfell once again finding itself tangled
inextricably in a web of Malerrisi weaving.
The book's first half focuses on the ties of family and friendship,
showing us former rebels grown mostly complacent with the new order of
things in Lenfell. When things start coming to a boil in the second
half, Rawn does an excellent job of propelling the reader through the
story. Glenin makes an open bid for renewed power in Lenfell, using
Cailet and Sarra's most closely guarded secret to undo much of what the
two have accomplished over the years. A Mageborn traitor, Glenin's own
son (whose hidden identity provides much of the tensions in the story),
is in the very midst of Cailet's sanctuary, and he will bring the lives
of Cailet and Sarra crashing down around them. One final time, the
three daughters of Ambrai will be pitted against each other in
The second book in a trilogy usually seems to be in the toughest
position -- it bears the weight of continuing the story begun in the
first book while having to set the stage for the climactic third book.
The Mageborn Traitor suffers a bit in the first half from Second
Book Syndrome, but it more than recovers in the second half.
This book ends at a breakneck, breathless pace, very well-done and
driving. While I find myself in the unpleasant position of having to
wait a while to read the trilogy's conclusion, I've no doubt that it
will satisfy me in the end. When the three parts of "Exiles" are
complete, this should reveal itself as one of the great trilogies of
the century's final decade.