The Traitor’s Heir – The Knight of Eldaran #1 – Anna Thayer
In an epic and mystical tale that resonates with modern times, the young Eamon Goodman goes on a journey of discovery. A journey which sees him taking an increasingly pivotal role in the battle between the rival forces of the king and the master, and takes him from being a young soldier in his home of Edesfield to being a fast-rising hero in the dense and rotten city of Dunthruik.
Under the watchful eye of Lord Cathair, in the loving arms of Lady Alessia Turnholt, and torn between enemy forces, Eamon’s experiences lead him to question the nature and true meaning of some of the most important things in life – love and friendship, loyalty and honour, and who he really is. But will the answers he finds lead him to become true to himself and true to his name? Will they lead him to become a good man?
‘The Traitor’s Heir’ is a book I’d never heard about before and it landed on my doorstep as a kind of a surprise to me. I was intrigued though. A story about betrayal isn’t that uncommon, but a story about a main character whose allegiance seems to shift between good and evil still piqued my interest. The books also looked quite stunning, each with a central color, a cover that seems simple at first, but contains a lot of detail when you look a bit closer.
The first few chapters didn’t quite convince me right away. Especially the main character wasn’t a direct hit with me. He would be around my age, but he read a lot younger which irritated me a bit. But Eamon really matured over the course over the story and that made me appreciate him more and more.
For me this story teetered on the edge of YA/Adult quite a while. I’m not one to label books, but I’ve not been enjoying YA books as much as I used to. They have this distinctive different feel to them and the story has to be really good to get me hooked. This one initially gave me that feeling, but much like the main character the book matured the more I read. Ultimately I absolutely enjoyed ‘The Traitor’s Heir’ and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series.
I thought the inner struggle Eamon had over his allegiance was very interesting. It was fascinating to read how both allegiances, on the one hand with the rightful King and on the other hand with the powerful Master, seem natural to him at different times during the story. The most striking thing about this is that on both sides there are good people with good intentions, who only follow their guts and their beliefs, or even just the things they’ve been told all their lives. But on both side there are also ‘bad’ people, who don’t have a conscience and would kill for their superior. It is hard for Eamon to make a distinction that way, to know which way is right and what choice he should make.
The thing about this that did bother me a bit is how obviously good the rightful King is and how obviously evil the Master is. Even the colours indicate this: blue for the King, red for the Master. The King has a First Knight, while the Master has his Hands, authority figures dressed in black. As much as loyalty is a question amongst the soldiers fighting for either side, it is not when you look at the leader, which I thought diminished the interesting question of loyalty a bit.
The history behind these two different leaders is explained a bit, mostly because Eamon’s forefather played an important role during the war between the two. But because of that there’s a focus on Eamon’s role. I would have liked to know more about the leaders themselves and maybe found that they both had some flaws. I do get why the Master is the evil one here, his methods are barbaric and he’s a tyrant, but I’d still would have liked the difference with the King being a bit more nuanced.
Eamon’s journey, though, was very exciting to read. All the challenges he faces, his doubts about loyalty, friendship and love and his undeniable hunger for power all made for a well-balanced, fast paced and enjoyable read. The hint of magical elements and the overall military undercurrent make this a book that could fit in many Fantasy subgenres and will give every reader a bit of what he or she might like.
I also very much enjoyed reading about all the secondary characters who all brought a lot of diversity to the story. Like I said before: good guys that I cared for on the Master’s side and bad guys that I’d gladly have strangled through the pages on the King’s side. There’s also even a romantic storyline and it wasn’t the one that I had expected.
I’m pretty curious to see how this series will evolve further, but if it follows the same path as this first book, than I’m sure I will enjoy it very much. ‘The Traitor’s Heir’ isn’t a book without flaws, but it did succeed in enthralling me and immersing me in its world. On to book two!