I feel that I have a bit of a disclaimer to make. Trudi Canavan’s books were some of the very first fantasies I read, and even a year ago - when I read The Ambassador’s Mission - I had not nearly read as much fantasy as I have now. As such, when I began reading reading The Rogue, I had the feeling not that this latest was any worse than any of Canavan’s previous books, but that it didn’t quite hold up to other reading experiences I’ve had in the past year. This initial sentiment, however, faded as the magic of Canavan’s writing and the compelling return to Kyralia and familiar faces won me over once more.
Living among the Sachakan rebels, Lorkin does his best to learn about them and their unique magic. But the Traitors are reluctant to trade their knowledge for the Healing they so desperately want and, while he assumes they fear revealing their existence to the world, there are hints they have bigger plans. Sonea searches for the rogue, knowing that Cery cannot avoid assassination for ever, but the rogue's influence over the city's underworld is far greater than she feared. His only weakness is the loss of his mother, now locked away in the Lookout. In Sachaka, Dannyl has lost the respect of the Sachakan elite for letting Lorkin join the Traitors. The Ashaki's attention has shifted, instead, to the new Elyne Ambassador, a man Dannyl knows all too well. And in the University, two female novices are about to remind the Guild that sometimes their greatest enemy is found within.
The Rogue picks up the events going on in Kyralia and Sachaka nearly right after those of The Ambassador’s mission. Sadly, though, Canavan feels the need to spend quite a large portion of the opening catching up those who may not have been paying full attention during the first book of the Traitor Spy Trilogy. This saddens me because though Canavan’s plots have their intricacies, they’re not so complicated that you wouldn’t be able to piece things together agains as you went along. Past this initial period of slow-plodding narrative, The Rogue picks up and really gets back into the thick of it. In fact, after my boredom throughout the opening chapters, I was surprised at how quickly I was drawn back in to this world and its characters.
That, I think, is a testament to Canavan’s writing. Though she sports a rather simplistic style of prose, its uncanny balance of dialogue, description and action will very quickly immerse the reader in the story. Her style is compounded with her knack for creating character-driven plots. The Rogue’s is no exception. Though nation-scaled - even world-scaled - forces are at play, the story always remains focused on Sonia and her struggles with guild politics, saving Imardin from a danger it is not even aware of and worry over her missing son or Lorkin fighting to make a place for himself in a new world.
Also, Canavan is experienced enough a writer now to avoid the middle book ‘slump’ when writing trilogies. The Rogue reads just as pleasantly and as satisfyingly as The Ambassador’s Mission did, while fulfilling it’s secondary purpose of setting up events for the finale in The Traitor Queen. This second act of the trilogy holds its fair share of revelations and developments while still expanding the plot’s boundaries. Essentially, it succeeds in quenching any thirsts arisen from previous novel, creating an all new thirst for the next while standing solidly as its own entity - what more could you ask for?
The Rogue, then, continues - in fine fashion - Canavan’s tradition of magic-infused tales about passionate characters in a secret-filled world. Though it would be useless to enter her work with this novel, long-term fans and readers of her Black Magician Trilogy as well as The Ambassador’s Mission will be able to get their Canavan fix here. The anticipation for the final denouement is mounting, and I for one can’t wait to read the conclusion when The Traitor Queen rolls around at about the same time next year. For those unfamiliar with Canavan’s work, be sure to pick up her The Magician’s Guild if you ever get the opportunity.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reading Age: 14 and up
Trudi Canavan's Website: http://www.trudicanavan.com/
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