Science fiction and fantasy                                            

A Sorcerer's Treason

by Sarah Zettel


Who would not jump at the chance to start afresh in a new place, free from gossip and any past mistakes? Bridget Lederle is a lighthouse-keeper, shunned because of her visions and because she gave birth to a bastard child whom some believe she also murdered. When she rescues a stranger in unusual dress from Lake Superior and allows him to stay with her, there is more talk.

The stranger is Kalami, and he wants to take her back with him to his own world. Given the choice between life as a social pariah in turn of the century Wisconsin and a future in a world where she has real magical power, it seems like a no-brainer. But Bridget knows nothing about this other world and its customs, power struggles, and rules regarding magic. Least of all does she know who she can trust.

In Isavalta, the Dowager Empress holds most of the power, but she's paranoid and sees enemies everywhere. She is convinced that her daughter-in-law, Ananda, is plotting to allow an invasion from her motherland of Hastinapura. The Dowager thinks Ananda is a sorceress who schemes constantly to destroy Isavalta and to make her son, the emperor, her puppet. The emperor has been robbed of his mind by a spell. Meanwhile great powers, taking the form of animals, make it unsafe to travel in certain areas of the country or to wander off the beaten track.

A Sorcerer's Treason doesn't stray too far from the beaten track of regular fantasy fare itself. We have the heroine, put upon and unaware of her own huge talents but full of spirit. The villain, big into politics and using people to get his own way. The love interest, honest and dependable as a brick. Much of the conflict is caused by people misunderstanding each other, and this sometimes spoils the dramatic tension because it's obvious how things will be resolved.

At just under 600 pages, it's a good job the writing is good enough to engage readers throughout. The characters are sympathetic, and even the villians have good reasons for acting as they do. This is a competent piece of storytelling, and enjoyable while it lasts. It's a gentle fantasy full of touchy-feely romantic escapism. Battles are usually won by coming to understand the truth of one's emotions rather than by the traditional fantasy method of hacking your enemy's head off or blasting them with fiery spells. But there's nothing really new here, and nothing that sticks in the mind for a long time after reading the book.

Sarah Zettel uses a tried and tested formula to tell a story that will appeal to lovers of romantic fantasy. Don't expect to read something groundbreaking, genre-busting or shockingly new. Yet it's no less absorbing for being somewhat conventional. A Sorcerer's Treason is sword 'n' sorcery in the comfort zone and, for the most part, without the sword.

Book Details

Year: 2002

Categories: Books

    Female Protagonist  

If you like this, try:

Along The Watchtower cover    

Along The Watchtower by David Litwack
An injured soldier fights to recover his future, whilst a prince must pass a number of tests to preserve his realm in this portal fantasy.

Debris cover    

Debris by Jo Anderton
When a fall destroys her latest grand project, magical architect Tanyana feels like she has lost everything.

The High Lord cover    

The High Lord by Trudi Canavan
The final volume of the Black Magician trilogy.

3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson


Alia     6th July, 2005 20:21pm

I'm a major fantasy reader and I loved A Sorcerer's Treason Its so amazing I loved bout the Spirit powers in the Silent Lands, my favourite was the Vixen the queen of the Lokai. I'm sadly on the last book now the Firebird's Vengeance.