The Mageborn Traitor
Melanie Rawn
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Get *The Mageborn Traitor* delivered to your door! Exiles: The Mageborn Traitor
Melanie Rawn
Daw Books
609 pages
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Melanie 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.

Curled Up With a Good BookThe 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 pitched battle.

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.

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