A review by Nalini Haynes
The Rogue is the second in the Traitor Spy trilogy, so we pick up where we left off last year. Lorkin, the son of Sonea and Akkarin (the dead black magician) is still a prisoner in the Traitor city, living under the scrutiny of Kalia, the head of the healers, who hates Lorkin. Lorkin’s friend Evar takes Lorkin to the stonemaker caves to see the magical stones that are under construction. Evar is officially disciplined and unofficially punished – brought close to death by the draining of his powers during a sexual act. Still in love with Tyvara, Lorkin attempts to navigate the political maze in the Traitor stronghold.
Lilia is a novice in the Guild, training to be a magician. Naki is an older novice, surrounded by rumour about her sexual inclinations. Naki takes an interest in Lilia, who discovers an attraction to Naki. As their relationship progresses, Lilia is drawn in to Naki’s life and home in spite of being the child of servants while Naki is the daughter of a Lord.
Sonea is still trying to capture Skellin, the rogue magician in the city of Imardin. Skellin proves as elusive as ever, but with Sonea’s freedom (won in the previous book) she pursues her career in healing. More settled in this book than the previous instalment, Sonea still navigates Guild politics but with more maturity amidst developing, maturing relationships.
Dannyl is still Ambassador in Arvice, struggling with his attraction to Achati, their taboo desires, and his loss of status after losing his assistant, Lorkin, to the Traitors. To make matters more complicated, Dannyl’s old lover shows up and plays chaperone.
Canavan writes about real issues relevant in today’s society. Gay and straight relationships are developed without fear nor favour, the only judgement passed being that of the societies in which the story is set. Drug use and addiction is a consistent theme in the story, including outcomes for addicts. About a third of the way through The Rogue there is a murder. Canavan does not cheat with her story telling, so the observant reader knows who did it and how. The suspense focuses on whether the innocent or guilty will be held accountable. Just as the personal relationships develop, so do the international relationships, opening up numerous possibilities for the next installment.
Highly recommended for fans of fantasy and for people interested in exploring fantasty for the first time. Start with part one, The Ambassador’s Mission.
Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011.