In a book store full of fantasies in which a lovable rogue, who’s an unwilling hero, battles against a powerful wizard/mage/god, Cameron Johnston’s The Traitor God comes out just slightly above average.
Edrin Walker has spent the last decade on the run. He’s been avoiding debt as well as some of the people he’s pissed off. He’s a powerful magician and not afraid to mix it up when necessary, but he’d just as soon stay under the radar if possible. He also knows that by staying away from his home of Setharis his friends Lynas and Charra and their daughter Layla should be out of the danger that he, Edrin, constantly brings. But one night Edrin dreams of his friend Lynas being stalked by daemons and then being brutally tortured by a mysterious man. Edrin has long had a magical connection with Lynas and he knows that the dream might actually be something Lynas has suffered through.
Edrin heads back to an un-welcoming Setharis in order to do everything he can to protect Charra and Layla. Then he wants to know what Lynas was doing to attract the attention of magicians and gods to receive the torture that he went through. Finding that answer leads Edrin on an epic adventure and anyone standing in his way – gods included – will have to deal with his wrath.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. But I found it uneven. The opening pages, establishing Edrin’s character, were fun and lively and I really knew that I would enjoy the book given the protagonist’s manner. But I actually felt that once Edrin got to Setharis the book slowed down significantly. It picks up again, slowly, but builds and builds. Too much, in fact.
I understand the dramatic impact of having a protagonist/hero overcome unbelievable odds. To take a beating and keep on going is practically the definition of heroic. But there’s a fine line between setting up a heroic measure and going too far and becoming laughable. For me, Johnston nudges the outside of that line. At one point I actually said, “Oh good grief. Really?” out loud as Edrin took an unbelievable beating after beating after beating.
It was a small moment, but it was the climax, and it let me down rather than built up, because it went too far.
There’s enough good work in this story, and Johnston clearly sets us up for more epic adventure to come, that I look forward to the next adventure. But I hope it will have a better balance.
Looking for a good book? The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston is good, but uneven, epic fantasy.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Traitor God
author: Cameron Johnston
series: Age of Tyranny #1
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 432 pages