Jennifer A. Nielsen's New York Times bestseller The Traitor's Game, which Entertainment Weekly called "the next big YA fantasy," is perfect for fans of the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard and the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.
Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won't stop her from being drawn back into her father's palace politics. He's second-in-command to the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this -- and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.
The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. One of the rebels, Simon, has his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both have to decide what -- and who -- it is they're fighting for.
About the Author
Jennifer A. Nielsen is the acclaimed author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Ascendance Trilogy: The False Prince, The Runaway King, and The Shadow Throne. She also wrote the New York Times bestselling Mark of the Thief trilogy: Mark of the Thief, Rise of the Wolf, and Wrath of the Storm; the stand-alone fantasy The Scourge; the historical thriller A Night Divided; the second book in the Horizon series, Deadzone; Book Six of the Infinity Ring series, Behind Enemy Lines; and The Traitor's Game, the first book in a series of the same name. Jennifer lives in northern Utah with her husband, their three children, and a perpetually muddy dog.
Read an Excerpt
Like everyone in Antora, I feared Lord Endrick, but I'd be a fool not to respect his power. Lord Endrick could not be defeated. He could not be killed or even wounded, certainly not by the Coracks. At best, they were like fleas to him, a persistent irritation, but a pestilence he would eventually crush between his fingers.
Sooner than later, I hoped.
"Endrick is no ordinary man," I said. "Bring an army of a hundred thousand against him if you want. It will do you no good."
"Not yet, my lady. That's where you come in."
Almost unwittingly, I sat up straight, shaking my head as fiercely as possible. "What you want cannot be done."
Tenger leaned in to me. "It will be done, and you will do it. The Coracks have not yet decided who will replace Endrick as ruler of the Scarlet Throne, but he will be replaced."
"You will hang for this." I tilted my head toward Simon, to be sure the message was clear. "All of you."
"So you've said." Tenger had probably heard that threat as often as the church bells chimed. "You'll attend our hanging, I assume."
"I'll give the executioner his orders, gladly." My voice became ice. It frightened me to hear it, to realize I was capable of such words.
Tenger smiled at my threat. "If you fail us, with similar enthusiasm we will execute your servant girl and driver. Only our methods are far more painful, I can promise you that. Now, what do you know about the Olden Blade?"
My gut twisted, but I tried not to let my worry show. If the Coracks knew about that dagger, then they needed my help to complete their wicked plans. They intended to make a traitor of me too.
If I was not careful, I would hang with them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Simply breathtaking. The book was full of so many twists and turns that I didn't see coming, not to mention the strangled love interest that seriously had me screaming. Everything about this book was phenomenal. Highly recommend.
A Great Start. My first book of the new year, and it was a great one. It had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning, trying to figure out what was behind everyone's motivation for the Olden Blade, who was truly a friend and who was a foe in sheep's clothing. The world building was incredible and the history of Antora adds to the complexity of the plot. I loved Kestra and Simon. Kestra is a strong and determined young woman, who through determination, mistakes, and shear will, has to battle lies, magic, and the will of people who want to use her for their own nefarious purposes. She is incredibly brave. I loved Simon. He, too, is brave. Even though he starts out the story with so much hatred and anger towards Kestra, that incredibly good core in him keeps him protecting her, taking his "oath" serious. These two together solidified my love for this book. I'm so glad that I only have a month or so before The Deceiver's Heart is out. I don't think I can patiently wait much longer than that for the next story with these two.
I’m an avid reader and have been unimpressed with most ya novels lately, but I have to say this book did not disappoint! The characters were believable, they didn’t break from who they were, and they developed well; unlike most ya novels with angry, angsty main characters who are just spurred on because their mad - throw in a dash of insta love with a handsome guy and bam, every ya novel I’ve seen of late. Traitor’s game had me binge reading into the early morning hours though, with an engaging plot, and characters I BELIEVED! I was also pleasantly surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed both the view points of Kestra as well as Simon! My only regret is starting this series before it was further along, because now I have to obsess and wait!
The Traitor's Game follows Kestra, the daughter of the advisor to an evil King, Lord Endrick, whose magical powers keep a stranglehold on the kingdom and grant him immortality. She is kidnapped by a rebel group and forced to return home to her father in order to look for the Olden Blade, a mythical blade that could kill Lord Endrick if wielded by the Infidante. As she searches, Kestra and her rebel group monitor, Simon, develop feelings for each other, feelings that are dangerous as things escalate. This romance is a key feature of the plot, obviously set in motion from the moment they meet, making it seem extremely instalove-y. There was very little development of it, as they're both in love so quickly, even if they do not admit it to each other. The characters themselves are also not particularly well developed, with the possible exception of Trina, the other rebel group member assigned to Kestra. Kestra is the standard kick-butt YA heroine with internal trouble due to her home life who falls in love with the forbidden rebel against her way of life. The world building is also not the strongest, with very little history, geography, described. The neighboring kingdoms seem to exist, but only one is mentioned, and the realm seems to have so many hidey-holes that it is endless. The really distinguishing feature in this book, the only one that makes it worth reading and the one that gets it 3 stars, is the layers of surprises, some that actually do surprise, that come with having the unreliable narrators, a unique trait in a YA novel. It also does have some witty prose, though not enough to call the book exceptionally written, as it frequently becomes melodramatic: "From the bowels of Antora's enemy would come the Infidante, destined to end the enemy's rules." This would seem normal if it were in the folklore of the world, but this is just the narration of Kestra's thoughts. It reminded me The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski, with the characters even having the same names (Kestrel and Kestra). If you wished that book had some more action, this book fits you. Review by Nathan P, 16, Delaware Valley Mensa
I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The Traitor’s Game is a series that follows Kestra, a girl that’s part of the high ranking families that help the horrible immortal king, Lord Endrick, keep order and power in their country. There are two other factions that are trying to stop the king, the Coracks, a rebel group, and the Halderians, the old royal family, but the only possible way is locating the Olden Blade, a mythical blade that is said to be the only thing to kill Lord Endrick. Kestra is kidnapped and forced into helping the Coracks help find the blade hidden in her home, becoming a traitor, and finding out things about her past that were hidden from her. Overall, the book was pretty enjoyable. Nielsen’s writing style wasn’t overly flowery and I liked the fact that she switched between the two main characters, Kestra and Simon, her first somewhat friend and also the boy she betrayed when they were younger. The romantic tropes that they fell into were pretty easy to spot, but well-done. It wasn’t just a come out of no-where, but also they got over their “hate” and betrayal for each other pretty quick. The plot dragged on in places, making me eager to get to the good stuff of who had the blade, what might happen, but it didn’t drag so much that I was turned off from finishing the book. While I would have also liked the magical system to be explained a little better, the knowledge wasn’t really Kestra or Simon’s to explain so I can get over that fault. I did like the questions that plagued Kestra about her duty to her country and what the meaning of right and wrong were. I definitely think that a lot of people would enjoy this book, especially if they like intrigue. Readers that enjoyed The Winner’s Curse Trilogy and The Remnant Chronicles would likely enjoy this tale.