by Jeff Wheeler
Published on September 6, 2016 by 47North
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
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Against all odds, Owen Kiskaddon grew from frightened boy to confident youth to trusted officer in the court of Kingfountain—and watched its regent, Severn Argentine, grow ever more ruthless and power-mad. Robbed of his beloved protector, his noble mentor, and his true love, Owen has anticipated the day when the king he fears and reviles, yet loyally serves, will be toppled. Now, as Severn plots a campaign of conquest, the time has come to take action…and Owen’s destiny demands that he lead the strike.
Ordered to incite war with a neighboring kingdom, Owen discovers its beautiful, reclusive ruler, whose powerful magic might even exceed his own. Together they mount a daring plot to overthrow the corrupt monarch, crown the rightful heir, and defeat the prophesied curse threatening Kingfountain with wintry death. But Severn’s evil is as bottomless as the fabled Deep Fathoms. To keep his ill-gotten throne, he’ll gladly spill the blood of enemies and innocents alike.
The story finally fits the writing and characters! Forgive me for getting a bit excited as the last two books in this series really did nothing for me. I’m not sure what happened between those and The King’s Traitor but I’m thankful for whatever it is because this book actually redeemed the series for me (to a degree).
Yet again, the series jumps ahead several more years. Now that I’ve experienced this twice, first with The Thief’s Daughter and now this book, I have to say that I’m really not a fan of it. Definitely prefer keeping within a year of a time lapse between books, just as a personal preference. In any case, we’re bumped forward and Owen’s spent the time in between books 2 and 3 hitting his dark and angsty teen years that apparently he skipped as an actual teen.
I liked that he finally showed some serious character development as I didn’t see it nearly as much between the first two books. It only took three books but Owen finally grew on me. Unfortunately I still didn’t care enough about the other characters to be invested in their futures.
As an end to a series, I expected The King’s Traitor to pull out all the stops. This series is known to move quick and have a lot going on (usually too much, to be honest). This time around, I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the subplots and the world. We’re finally past the point of all the extensive world-building, which is still present but not the same looming presence as it was in the previous two installments.
In fact, I was ready to put down that NONE of that “I’m going to throw ALL the stories at you” mentality appeared…until I got to the end. Sadly what could’ve been a strong series ending, epic as fantasy tends to be, turned into a jumbled mess of too much too fast. There were plotlines added in that I had no clue existed or saw no importance in.
In terms of the series as a whole, I felt this was an appropriate ending for the books. The questions I was asking throughout received answers and, as a reader, I felt satisfied with this conclusion. Owen thankfully didn’t take on a Chosen One role and avoided that cliche. He struggled, and I think that struggling made me like him as a character (finally).
I would definitely say this was the best book of the series and if they had all been like this one I might have been more eager to read them out of interest instead of a commitment to the books from a completionist perspective. I’m not sure if I’ll read anything else by this author as The Queen’s Poisoner and The Thief’s Daughter weigh against The King’s Traitor fairly strongly but I do think that if you can get through the first two books, then you will enjoy the series as a whole by reading this third and final installment. A good ending to a grand-scale fantasy series.