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The Traitor's Daughter by Paula Brandon

The Traitor's Daughter

by Paula Brandon

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967181,484 (3.44)5
  1. 10
    Illusion by Paula Volsky (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Paula Brandon is a pseudonym for Paula Volsky. Readers who enjoy her work under one name may enjoy it under the other as well.

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3.5 Stars ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
I recently won the ARC of The Traitor's Daughter. The book is about a magical world with several races that aren't terribly set. The story follows four different people for the most part. It is somewhat like a Greek tragedy, where almost all things could be solved if only the characters had more information or arrived sooner. The characters are more believable than most, in that they all have faults. No one in this story is perfect, and that's what makes it great for me. I can easily tell that this tale will encompass all three books in the trilogy, as many questions were left unanswered. I am eagerly awaiting the next book, "The Ruined City."

*In compliance with FTC guidelines, I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. ( )
  AquarianDancer | Sep 8, 2013 |
What to do, what to do? First of all, I have to admit I've had this ARC for months - I won it in the First Reads program in 2011 - and just haven't gotten around to reading it. My bad GoodReads, you were right - this is a book for me, even if I'm not quite sure what to do with it. I'm torn about a lot of this fantasy novel - so much so that I couldn't even decide what range of rating I want to assign The Traitor's Daughter for a while after finishing - there's a lot to take in over the 415-page length.

Pro: excellent, fully original, alien, complex and layered worldbuilding.
Con: very stilted dialogue, constantly weighed down with exposition or repetition
Pro: strong, spirited, conflicted heroine (Jianna)
Con: remote characterization, slightly stereotypical in voice/personality
Pro: a unique and fresh idea as a 'source' (ha) for magic/ the "arcane ability"
Con: the slow-moving first hundred pages before the plot fully kicks in, starting with the three-chapters long introductory infodump
Pro: a greyly moral/complicated character in Aurest Belandor (his "kneeser" ways as opposed to his love and devotion to his daughter)
Con: the overlong and very-articulated abuse of a main, though thoroughly repellant, character
Pro: Overarching themes and unresolved plotlines that lead naturally to the next book (The Ruined City) without overextending the plot of book one
Con: certain aspects of the 'arcane art' can come off as terribly convenient (the "Distant Exchange" and so on)
Pro: it's a fantasy, but the love interest isn't the prince/Magnifico, and nor is the "romance" any sort of focus for the heroine He's got brains! He's a doctor!

All in all, for a debut novel in a high/dark fantasy series, The Traitor's Daughter is uneven but highly imaginative. Without a doubt I have to credit the author for the scope and breadth of the worldbuilding of this book - it truly is the most impressive aspect of the entire novel. The writing is serviceable, if exposition-heavy but it is the thinly-Italian-influenced history (warring island city-states with languages overly fond of vowels, and the letter "z", the titles of "Magnifico/Magnifica" as form of address to nobility) of the Veiled Isles that intrigued me the most. Author Paula Brandon has a wide an creative vision for her strange land of men and "quasi-men" to inhabit, and once the ball gets rolling, it's fun to join her there. It does take a while, but the payout is rewarding through the twists and turns of Jianna's story,

Don't dismiss this as a mere "romantic fantasy" because that's not at all what this novel is about. This isn't a novel afraid to get dark, gritty and murdery. Though some of the advertising blurbs out there for this advertise "the walking dead" as a selling point, and they do play some (small) part in the events of The Traitor's Daughter, the main horror of the book are the torture scenes. This is a dark fantasy - there's the practical slavery of a "lesser" species, rape is hardly worth mentioning, women are required to be subservient, several characters die or are murdered, others are tortured as a matter of course. Jianna is a serviceable main character and the third person omniscient POV probably does her a substantial bit of favor - she comes of as spoiled and ignorant (the whole city hates her dad and she has no clue? Despite 18 years of living there, and according to Nalio, wandering around town unattended?) - bu it would've been much worse to her impression had it been first person. To her credit, Jianna does gain a tiny shred of perspective through her interactions with Dr. Rione, but there's yards more to go.

I was surprised and impressed by the antagonist of the book - Yvenza. She uses her brain rather than force of arms to maneuver Jianna riiight where she wants her; it's formidable, especially in direct view of how her opponent operates. She's cold, calculating, intelligent and resourceful. I've said it before and it still holds true, a compelling and smart villain is miles better than a obvious and overdone stereotype. If I liked The Traitor's Daughter in spite of its deficiencies and flaws, the same could also be said for my opinion on the Dowager Magnifica. For all her hatred and cunning, she's at least reasoned out in her motivation, understandable at her desire to set right what has been taken from her. If her methods are harsh and cruel, so too is the world that turned on her and the man that did it. Her sons are bit more trope-ish and stereotypical - I didn't feel even a hint of individual presence from Trecchio and Ontartino was pure, unadulterated malevolence without his mother's cool intelligence to balance out his brutishness. Rione, too, for much of the novel is a bit blandly perfect though he branches out against his patron eventually. Besides the delightfully flawed Aurest and Yvenza, the cast is in much need of individual attention.

I found myself very surprisingly wrapped up in the events of The Traitor's Daughter; several varying theories about the Inhabitants, the sequel and more abound in my head and prove that the good outweighs the bad for this one. I'll be continuing with the Veiled Isles trilogy and can't wait to see what Paula Brandon thinks up next for her sophomore fantasy effort.
( )
1 vote msjessie | Feb 5, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I won this some time ago as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer book, and I'm very very sorry that it's taken me this long to finish it … I lost it, is the plain simple truth. If you saw my house you'd understand. It's a cross somewhere a small local library and an episode of "Hoarders". Happily, it appeared on NetGalley, and my request was approved, and vi-ola: two reviews with one stone. Or something.

It took some time for this book to click. One aspect of that was the cover: it looks almost typical of the run of historical fiction and historical romance in recent years, and as this is very much not either of those genres it was a bit of an adjustment to take in robots and Sishmindri. It's a whole new universe this is set in, with a new form of magic, and new species. I didn't really notice when the click came, but at a certain point it all suddenly made excellent sense: the Sishmindri are the bipedal amphibian race who are enslaved by the humans, considered by the vast majority to be far, far subhuman; next highest on the totem pole are the human Faerlonnish, who have been conquered by the human Taerleezi and who – except for the Magnifico Aureste Belandor, who acted in a manner he considered expeditious, saving his family – but which his fellow Faerlonnish considered vile treachery.

As the book begins, we meet Jianna, Belandor's daughter, who has been sheltered from all of the politics of the past. She is eighteen, lovely, spoiled, and an almost unsympathetic character who is being sent off for a strategic marriage. She never gets there. While her father's past actions have provided a safe and privileged life for her up to that point, they also created a lot of enemies, and some of those enemies stop her carriage and take her captive.

It's a dark story. There's the horror involved in the kidnapping – Brandon pulls very few punches for her characters. There are all the draconic laws of the society which lead to horrific punishments and retaliations: it is a land being ruled unwillingly, and it isn't pretty. And there is something else going on behind it all. Most people experience it as a terrible plague; people get sick, and then the authorities come in and quarantine the house or the block or the section of town. What most people don't realize is that the reason the quarantine is so viral is that the dead don't stay dead. What even fewer people realize is that the reason for the plague is that the Source, where all arcane power originates, is undergoing some serious changes, changes which could have cataclysmic consequences. I like that. I like that the concerns of each character are all in all to them. The resistance fighters working against the Taerleezi are concerned solely with trying to make an impact on their oppressors; the plague is a distant trouble, and they couldn't care less about the Source. They, and everyone else, are going to have to become a bit more open, or they might not survive.

I liked the characters who populate this alien world. They are not the most cuddly of people, but I liked the way they move through their landscape and made decisions with weight. Nothing comes easily, and there are consequences to everything. Yet there is a sense of humor to the writing which is a big part of what makes the characters not be hateful and leavened the harshness of the world. While the book didn't end on quite a cliffhanger, there are many situations left very much unresolved, and I look forward to the rest of the trilogy. ( )
2 vote Stewartry | Feb 5, 2012 |
You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2011/12/reviewthetraitorsdaughter.html

When I started The Traitor’s Daughter, I immediately knew that I was in for something a little bit different. The book begins with an inventor, Grix Orlazzu, that is confronted by his own creation, an automaton that decides to take on his creater’s identity. However, his creator has discovered a disruption in the Source, a mysterious underground power from which magic originates. He leaves his home, and his automaton, determined to make his way to the Wraithlands to hopefully find out what’s happening with the Source. We don’t meet Grix again until the end, and you may be wondering about just what’s going on, but I promise, it gets much clearer throughout the story. We then meet Magnifico Aureste Belandor and his beautiful 18 year old daughter Jianna, who will soon make the journey to meet her betrothed. This journey will prove to change her and her father’s lives forever.

As Jianna travels to meet her new fiancé, her party is attacked by rebel forces and she is taken to a rebel stronghold, where she meets the formidable Yvenza Belandor, and her less-than-charming sons. Yvenza tells an outrageous story that puts Jianna’s father in the role of traitor, but it may not be quite as outrageous as she thinks. To add insult to injury, Yvenza plans to make Jianna her daughter-in-law by marrying her to her oldest son, Onartino. Let’s talk about Yvenza and Onartino for a moment. If Yvenza’s claims are true, you can understand her motivations, if not her methods. Onartino on the other hand, is a true sociopath. He’s no stranger to rape and murder, and his plans for Jianna are anything but romantic. I hated Onartino with a vengeance and had to keep myself from skipping ahead to find out Jianna’s fate. Luckily, there is a light at the end (maybe) in the form of a young doctor, Falaste Rione, who arrives at the stronghouse to administer to the rebel wounded. Kind and a little charmed by Jianna, he may be her only hope for escape, but his loyalties also lie with Yvenza, so convincing him to help will take all of Jianna’s wits. With Jianna, the author did a really, really good job of painting a portrait of a girl that has been raised very sheltered and pampered, but has hidden reserves, which she discovers slowly but surely, especially while helping Falaste administer to the wounded rebels. I loved the idea of the Source, a mysterious underground font of magic that may be ready to shift, and not necessarily for the better, and the author did a wonderful job of creating an atmosphere of magic and intrigue. Oh, and did I mention there are zombies? Or rather, the constant threat of zombies, for there is a plague loose in the Veiled Isles, but there may be more to the walking dead than meets the eye, and I’m hoping we’ll find out more about this in the next book. The Traitor’s Daughter shifts back and forth from Jianna’s plight to the goings on in her father’s world, and I’ll admit, while those passages were certainly entertaining, I found myself wanting to get back to Jianna’s story. I was riveted with The Traitor’s Daughter and can’t wait for The Ruined City, the next book in the series. If you like fantasy full of intrigue, drama, and magic, with a fascinating and unique setting, you’ll love The Traitor’s Daughter! ( )
  MyBookishWays | Dec 8, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553583808, Paperback)

Here’s the beginning of a lush, epic, wholly original new trilogy that shines with magic, mystery, and captivating drama.

On the Veiled Isles, ominous signs are apparent to those with the talent to read them. The polarity of magic is wavering at its source, heralding a vast upheaval poised to alter the very balance of nature. Blissfully unaware of the cataclysmic events to come, Jianna Belandor, the beautiful, privileged daughter of a powerful Faerlonnish overlord, has only one concern: the journey to meet her prospective husband.  But revolution is stirring as her own conquered people rise up against their oppressors, and Jianna is kidnapped and held captive at a rebel stronghold, insurance against what are perceived as her father’s crimes.

The resistance movement opens Jianna’s eyes―and her heart. Despite her belief in her father’s innocence, she is fascinated by the bold and charming nomadic physician and rebel sympathizer, Falaste Rione—who offers Jianna her only sanctuary in a cold and calculating web of intrigue. As plague and chaos grip the land, Jianna is pushed to the limits of her courage and resourcefulness, while virulent enemies discover that alliance is their only hope to save the human race.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:45 -0400)

On the Veiled Isles, ominous signs are apparent to those with the talent to read them. The polarity of magic is wavering at its source, heralding a vast upheaval poised to alter the very balance of nature. Jianna Belandor, the beautiful, privileged daughter of a powerful Faerlonnish overlord, has only one concern: the journey to meet her prospective husband. But revolution is stirring as her own conquered people rise up against their oppressors, and Jianna is kidnapped and held captive at a rebel stronghold, insurance against what are perceived as her father's crimes.… (more)

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