The Traitor Spy Trilogy

“Add the new threat along with a mystery or two. Cook slowly for three novels, increasing temperature slowly. Pay attention. Threats and mysteries tend to disintegrate all of a sudden if you cook them too long after they are resolved, and all you will get is a bland, disappointing mess.” T. Canavan, Orbit Newsletter

When Trudi Canavan published her first (?) trilogy, The Black Magician, I enjoyed it very much. This second trilogy, The Traitor Spy, is a sequel, taking place in the same universe with almost the same characters 20 years later, i.e., one generation later… Recycling the universe (and the cover) of a previous trilogy is fine provided enough novelty is infused into the new series and this is simply not the case here… There are several stories interleaved in the novels, at different locations, with different characters, and I for once regret the classical (at the time of Corneille and Racine) rule for unity of place, time, and action..! Most characters sound incredibly childish and immature all along the three novels, including the senior black mage Sonea who was the heroin of the previous series and had enough of a strong mind to overcome the difficulties that faced her promotion to magician. And to make “black magic” acceptable to the magicians’ community. Here, when she should be a clear leader of this community, she hardly contributes to the major debates taking place in the first volume and does not seem able to argue against changes she does see as prejudicial. The same issue applies to other senior characters, who seem to spend their time wondering about others’ sentiments. And [spoiler alert!] I have not yet mentioned the Traitors’ uprising against the Sachakan regime, which is managed by an handful of individuals, managing to topple an entire society by a single street battle. As quoted above, the author wrote a self-mocking recipe for writing a sequel on the Orbit Newsletter: either she did not follow the recipe properly or there is something fundamentally flawed with the recipe…

2 Responses to “The Traitor Spy Trilogy”

  1. My wife just got me Leviathan Wakes; I’m about half-way through, and I recommend it.

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