Book Review: The Traitor's Heir

The Traitor's Heir by Anna Thayer, The Knigh of Eldaran #1

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?

   
Before being presented with the request to review The Traitor's Heir I had never heard of Anna Thayer nor of the publisher Lion Hudson, this first book had already gotten a lot of positive news. And reading the synopsis it was really a book right up my alley, I am always in for another Epic Fantasy adventure and The Traitor's Heir proved just to have that. This is a action packed start of a new Epic Fantasy series. Anna Thayer is off to a solid start!

From the first moment that you pick up The Traitor's Heir you are right in the middle of an action scene, focusing on the main protagonist Eamon Goodman. In the prologue to the story you are readily introduced to terms such as the "Gauntlet" and "Hand" later you learn that have reference towards specific military roles but with this Anna Thayer did manage to inspire that all important feeling of really creating her own set of rules and the world that flowed from this. 

After the action packed prologue the story picks up a slightly gentler pace in the subsequent chapter giving in a clear introduction to Eamon Goodman and that he is a bookbinder turned soldier, an interesting career change to say the least. Eamon is about to take part in a ritual known as the "swear" where Eamon pledges full allegiance to the Master, the one who sits on the throne. Pledging you allegiance might be a simple saying as I do, but you get much more in return, you get an sigil of the Master on your hand, and the Master will grant you a special magical power. This swearing is something that Eamon has had mind on for a long time, he always wanted to be part of the most Elite warrior of the River Realm. Having passed this is, only gives rise to the first set of problems. Eamon has made good friends in his village but now there are rumors that there are snakes present amongst them, also known as wayfarer's and the King's people. These snakes directly oppose the Master, the one who rules. So when a friend of Eamon is executed because he is a snake, Eamon's mind does get put to thinking: How could this have happened? After this execution Eamon also gets to learn the power of the King... with some dire consequences... From this point onwards Eamon is thrown in an epic adventures of coming-of-age, power struggles and betrayal. With some reference to his ancestors, it seems that Eamon is reliving past events... but the question remains, will Eamon be able to choose where his allegiance lies? At the hand of the Master or on the side of the King?

The story that Anna Thayer tells in The Traitor's Heir is really solid, there are some many things going on that I could talk about it for a while more but since there is a lot of intrigue and betrayals I won't this is something that you have to read for yourself so you get the best kickout of it. Another thing that readily falls to note is the skill with which Anna Thayer has written The Traitor's Heir. Anna Thayer is an English teacher by day and this is seen back in the engaging way in which the story is written. The dialogues flow freely as well as the detailed environments of the River Realm. 

The idea's behind the story is the struggle of power and finding your true allegiance. These idea's are readily found back in the way that the main protagonist, Eamon, acts. I have to say that when it comes down to showing a very humane protagonist this is just what Anna Thayer did with Eamon. These elements are all found back in his character. Eamon is just 23 years old at the start of the book and was training by his father as a bookbinder but choose for a military career instead. This "rookieness" is shown in the early pages of the book but as the story progresses, Eamon's character goes trough many transformations learning more and more and this really bolstered a certain coming-of-age aspect of the story. Eamon isn't a dumb fellow and as betrayals are done to him so does he do to others. One other thing that Anna Thayer manages to show in a great way is the inner struggle that Eamon has with himself when it comes down to choosing the Master or the King. He has always grown up with the idea of the Master being the true leader but when he learns about the King he doesn't know what to do and takes part into both... but a divided allegiance can only be kept up for so long. Eamon just can't seem to choose and when certain encounters are inevitable the tension can rise pretty high. I liked how Anna Thayer continued to build up on this aspect making it more and more difficult for Eamon to choose his path. 

The characterization of Eamon was just spot on and Anna Thayer continued down this path for he secondary characters as well. There are several characters both on the side of the Master and on the side of the King. From both sides Eamon has made friends and this makes it all that much more complicated for him. On the Master's side I enjoyed reading about Lord Cathair, a nefarious and ruthless presence, that has no mercy at all, another that I liked was that of Ladomer Kentigern, though he only makes sporadic entries in the book, he is one of those character that will put a smile on your face despite the dire setting of the book, his character somehow seemed to lighten and brighten up the dark tones of the book. On the side of the King we find Hughan and Aeryn. Aeryn and Eamon grew up together and her father execution sets several things into motion which causes Eamon to eventually wind up with Hughan a Kings man in full blood and he tells Eamon just what his destiny might be. Very interesting characters that each have their own personality and voice. 

With a book like The Traitor's Heir, Anna Thayer directly makes a name for herself. It's it one of those hidden gem of a book that you wish more people knew about. Like I said before I had never heard of Lion Hudson but was glad that I got the opportunity to read The Traitor's Heir. In this first book Anna Thayer introduces some very cool concepts directly in the lines of a true epic fantasy story. From the first page she manages to put the setting just right and this is continued all throughout the story. The characters and mainly, Eamon, is one that stands-out heads above shoulders, you will be directly relating to all the hardships he has gone through and is still going through. The Traitor's Heir is an exciting new fantasy story that you don't want to miss.

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