The Traitor's Game

The Traitor's Game

Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. 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 the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well - and they snatch Kestra from he...

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Title:The Traitor's Game
Author:Jennifer A. Nielsen
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Traitor's Game Reviews

  • Cait • A Page with a View

    Oh, this was so much fun. It reminded me a bit of Ruined by Amy Tintera meets The Winner's Trilogy with hints of The Cadet of Tildor, the Mistborn trilogy, Roar, Red Queen, The False Prince, and a lot of YA fantasy books where a wealthy, sheltered girl has to deal with the consequences that come with truth and then joins the rebellion.

    The story starts out with Kestra b

    Oh, this was so much fun. It reminded me a bit of Ruined by Amy Tintera meets The Winner's Trilogy with hints of The Cadet of Tildor, the Mistborn trilogy, Roar, Red Queen, The False Prince, and a lot of YA fantasy books where a wealthy, sheltered girl has to deal with the consequences that come with truth and then joins the rebellion.

    The story starts out with Kestra being taken hostage by a group of rebels (they're not quite rebels but it's easiest to just call them that here instead of explaining everything). They take her friends hostage and threaten to kill them if she doesn't go back to her father's home to find/steal a mythical dagger that will help them bring down the evil immortal ruler guy. Kestra's life is at risk if her father finds out she's aiding the enemy, so she grudgingly puts on a good show while plotting ways to take down everyone.

    The story is told through the POVs of both Kestra and Simon. ALL of the characters have so much personality, but Kestra is seriously one of my new favorite YA fantasy characters ever. Her scowling, sarcastic wit is hilarious, yet never overdone to the point of being annoying. Plus, she's totally competent and way more complex than merely "tough." She's pretty terrified at times but still makes the hard choice to do what's right and let that define her instead of any family connections.

    Simon is a rebel assigned to guard Kestra and kill her if need be, but you can guess where that situation ends up (the whole princess/guard trope totally works here btw). The slow burn hate-to-love romance is believable and Simon ends up being torn between Kestra and his mission/people. I also really appreciated getting a strong backstory for the guy and a solid look into his perspective.

    The actual plot wasn't the most original thing ever, buuuut I didn't even care because the writing was super engaging. I just got really into the whole story and adored the characters. I suppose a few parts could have unfolded a bit more organically or been more developed (like anything with the villain and some scenes towards the end), but this was still a solid 5 stars because it was just plain fun to read. I truly do love these tropes and the typical YA fantasy story, so I mostly just want to see it told in a way that's still engaging. The execution here was good, so I'm perfectly happy.

    One of my favorite parts of The False Prince (another book by the same author) was how the main character kept information from the reader until the end. It's not

    an unreliable narrator... just enough to make it interesting. This story kind of did the same thing, so nothing was ever too predictable! You can still guess where it's going, but you aren't exactly sure how it will get to that point.

    I definitely recommend this if you love YA fantasy!!

  • Jennifer Nielsen

    Yes, I'm biased, but I hope readers will love this book as much as I do. I adore Kestra's fire, intelligence, and desire to do the right thing - something that isn't always clear to her. I love Simon's dedication, courage, and devotion to the causes he cares about. And I'm fascinated by these two characters who are working their way toward the truth, but coming to it from completely different angles.

    If you read this and like it, then I also hope you'll follow this story through the sequels. I'm

    Yes, I'm biased, but I hope readers will love this book as much as I do. I adore Kestra's fire, intelligence, and desire to do the right thing - something that isn't always clear to her. I love Simon's dedication, courage, and devotion to the causes he cares about. And I'm fascinated by these two characters who are working their way toward the truth, but coming to it from completely different angles.

    If you read this and like it, then I also hope you'll follow this story through the sequels. I'm writing Book 2 right now, with more trouble for your favorite characters and some new characters that continue to build this world!

  • R.F. Gammon

    OH WOW. I picked up this book on a whim at the library because it was on the new books shelf and because I had heard of the author from a lot of my friends. I meant to get the False Prince first...whoops. Excuse me whilst I go and preorder both book 2 of this series AND Resistance, the WWII Holocaust novel that Nielsen has coming out.

    Ahem. Now that that is out of the way...

    I LOVED THIS BOOK. I know I had it at four stars when I had first finished it, but the more I think about it....the more I

    OH WOW. I picked up this book on a whim at the library because it was on the new books shelf and because I had heard of the author from a lot of my friends. I meant to get the False Prince first...whoops. Excuse me whilst I go and preorder both book 2 of this series AND Resistance, the WWII Holocaust novel that Nielsen has coming out.

    Ahem. Now that that is out of the way...

    I LOVED THIS BOOK. I know I had it at four stars when I had first finished it, but the more I think about it....the more I think it deserves five. SO GOOD.

    The characters, for starters. I think the one downside to the characters (and this is genuinely the only downside!) was that Kestra's name was very similar to that of Kestrel, the heroine of the Winner's Curse trilogy. I loved Kestra WAAAAAY more than I did Kestrel, but since they were sort of similar stories, that was a little distracting. :P Other than that....I ADORED THEM ALLLLLL. Kestra and Simon were both wonderful little snarky cinnamon rolls, and their romance....ooh I loved it. And Trina was beautifully complicated and conflicted and I LOVED HER TOO. I think the only character I didn't like was Henry Dallisor....he and Lord Endrick (UGH to both of them, but in a horrible villain sort of way, not a bad-character sort of way.)

    The plot was mind-bending....I saw a couple of the twists coming, but not all of them. And I'm not usually crazy about the whole long-lost family thing, but this time I adored it (no spoilers if you haven't read the book, but it was executed really, really well.)

    The romance too. Argh I loved it. It didn't feel like instalove, somehow, even with the fact that the story is like four days....and I love childhood friends to enemies to lovers for some reason. (And enemies to lovers is always going to be one of my favorite tropes...) SO SO GOOD.

    I also loved that this book is a comp title for one of mine (I won't say which because that might be spoilers for MY book....but it is the comp for one of them ^_^) Which is SO COOL!!!!!!

    And let me just say: WHERE IS THE SEQUEL. Having read the synopsis for book 2 here on goodreads....NO NO NO NO NO NO. GIVE ME BOOK 2. PLEASE. I BEG YOU.

    5 stars. 5 glorious stars. I love this book, and I need to get me some more Jennifer Nielsen ASAP.

  • jv poore

    Abruptly abandoning her beloved Lava Fields, based solely on a demand from her paternal parental unit, is aggravating. The fact that it’s been three years and no reason was given for the reunion, is infuriating. When Kestra’s security carriage is attacked on the journey home, she flips from frustrated to fiercely furious, forgetting all about fear.

    Certainly, the people of Antora have a healthy respect for that anger. After all, her father is second in command to Lord Endrick. Those who actually

    Abruptly abandoning her beloved Lava Fields, based solely on a demand from her paternal parental unit, is aggravating. The fact that it’s been three years and no reason was given for the reunion, is infuriating. When Kestra’s security carriage is attacked on the journey home, she flips from frustrated to fiercely furious, forgetting all about fear.

    Certainly, the people of Antora have a healthy respect for that anger. After all, her father is second in command to Lord Endrick. Those who actually know the scrappy, skilled teen are more realistically wary of her wrath. The band of rebels, however, has too much at stake and too pat a plan to be thwarted.

    Kestra is kidnapped. Her guard and governess held as collateral.

    One captor poses as her lady-in-waiting, the other her driver and Kestra is taken into Highwyn and tasked with finding the Olden Blade to overthrow evil Lord Endrick. No one actually knows that the magic dagger exists. If it does, and she is able to locate it; then she will have to determine how much, if any, of the legend is true. This seemingly insurmountable problem pales when Kestra realizes the reason for her return.

    She is to be wed. Groom selected, arrangements made, the ceremony…stupidly soon. She has no say in the matter.

    With several sticky situations to solve, and only a small window of time, the story flies faster than Lord Endrick’s condors. Along the way, secrets are revealed. Kestra begins to believe that she fell in love with the idea of her country, without ever knowing the realities of her world. Burdened by new knowledge, the difference between enemies and innocents becomes blurry, but she must choose someone to trust.

    Kestra may be one of my favorite characters of all time. She is courageous, bold beyond belief and also positively petulant, with a tendency for tantrums. The perfect protagonist for this adventurous, action-packed fantasy. Mixed with a bit of magic, a completely captivating saga is created; a stellar start to a tempting trilogy (I’m guessing, here).

    This review was written for Buried Under Books by jv poore.

  • m a r y l i z

    On one hand, I absolutely LOVED it - the sass, the setting, the plot twists, the character arcs . . . they are all so masterful.

    But on the other hand . . .

    -

    I'm convinced that Jennifer Nielsen is the master of witty writing. I laugh SO MUCH every time I read her books because the sass levels are off the charts. And yet, despite how many snarky characters she creates, they all

    On one hand, I absolutely LOVED it - the sass, the setting, the plot twists, the character arcs . . . they are all so masterful.

    But on the other hand . . .

    -

    I'm convinced that Jennifer Nielsen is the master of witty writing. I laugh SO MUCH every time I read her books because the sass levels are off the charts. And yet, despite how many snarky characters she creates, they all feel DIFFERENT. That is serious skill right there, to be able to uniquely craft wit to match a character's personality.

    -

    WHOA GOODNESS - I want to be able to craft character arcs like these! Kestra starts off as naive and spoiled, but her exterior shell crumbles as the book progresses to reveal a hurting, genuinely compassionate person who wears a mask of toughness to hide her desire to feel like she belongs. Truly a masterful character arc, in my opinion. It makes her a sympathetic character who is relatable but also incredibly deep. (Plus, you know . . . she's really snarky. *grins*) And Simon? He was another great character with a wonderful arc. Quieter and more even-tempered than Kestra generally, he has a heart that aches to help others. And like Kestra, he had a difficult past that often makes him put up barriers. Honestly, all the characters are really well fleshed-out, and they keep you guessing all. the. time.

    -

    I've seen a lot of reviews saying the writing is bad . . . but I don't see that at all?? I LOVE her writing style. It feels very organic and flows so well. Not to mention Jennifer Nielsen throws the best plot twists. Even if you occasionally see them coming, they somehow feel exciting and engaging.

    -

    AH YES - I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. I kind of like the darker, more mature feel of this book, but at the same time, it feels a little underdeveloped. I want to see MORE of this new world. (And I'm also not too sure if I like

    dark it can get at times . . . )

    -

    UGH WHY. I'm soooooo torn on this! I feel like it could have worked. It COULD have. But it didn't.

    Why?

    Well, for one:

    I don't know how we're expected to believe this is actually

    and that it's plausible. It's very attraction-based and honestly happens WAY too fast. Not a healthy relationship, in the slightest. Simon starts "falling for" Kestra the first night they travel together (and literally almost kisses her several hours after they meet -

    :P).

    Another reason this doesn't work:

    This romance is basically a trainwreck waiting to happen. The whole plot revolves around secrets and double-alliances and, well,

    Kestra and Simon both keep a lot of secrets and frankly don't know nearly enough about each other to start a relationship. A healthy relationship consists of communication, not just "chills" and "feeling a connection." No, that's called ATTRACTION. Not love. Although both characters change and are drawn to each other's personalities later-on (which could be the start of a good FRIENDSHIP), the romance feels very physically-based. (Though thankfully it never goes beyond kissing and thinking about kissing.)

    It could have worked, though, and I say this because I do feel like they could be a good match. However, in the context of this storyline, it's just kind of a disaster. I believe it would have been a good idea for them to become FRIENDS in this book and then perhaps later on a couple . . . but a romance in four days?? I CANNOT EVEN. *facepalm*

    -

    Does that even make sense? I don't know. All I know is that it FELT more YA than all her other books. It was somehow darker and less unique than her other books. The romance was rushed and physical. It just . . . was kind of a disappointment. *sad face*

    A good deal of violence/torture that could be disturbing to some people but is never heavily described. Obviously, a lot of attraction between the MC's. Kissing (somewhat lengthily described), thoughts of kissing, touching of each other's faces, etc. One female character is searched for weapons by a man who gives her a thorough pat-down. (It's obviously uncomfortable for both parties, but it never really gets inappropriate.) Also, a male character apparently sees a little bit of when a female character is changing clothes (though she only strips down to a corset/shift). Probably recommended for teens about 14 or 15+.

    I have to say, this was an underwhelming read in many regards. Though I loved a lot of things about it, the romance was enough for me to round down my rating to three stars. I still loooove a lot of Jennifer Nielsen books, though, and as usual, the snark + characters were vastly entertaining!

  • Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔

    Rating ~2.5

    While, there wasn’t anything particularly bad about this, there also wasn’t anything particularly good or memorable about it either.

    The romance, if you can call it that, fell flat. Honestly, I thought Kestra had more chemistry in a few scenes with her betrothed than she did in any of her scenes with Simon.

    I cared about essentially none of the characters, and one of the few characters I did somewhat like died.

    It hasn’t even been a month and I sometimes struggle to recall what happe

    Rating ~2.5

    While, there wasn’t anything particularly bad about this, there also wasn’t anything particularly good or memorable about it either.

    The romance, if you can call it that, fell flat. Honestly, I thought Kestra had more chemistry in a few scenes with her betrothed than she did in any of her scenes with Simon.

    I cared about essentially none of the characters, and one of the few characters I did somewhat like died.

    It hasn’t even been a month and I sometimes struggle to recall what happened in this book. Though, admittedly, I do remember if I give it a good amount of thought.

    But that for me makes it easier to define this book in one word: Forgettable

    *More detail review come?

  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    3.5*

  • Allison C

    3.5^

  • Sabrina The Trash Queen

    => I loved The False Prince so I’m definitely read this one.

    => And I already can fell the romance on the description and I’m all for it. Damn, I’m a sucker for romance.

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