A Sorcerer’s Treason, book one of the Isavalta Trilogy by Sarah Zettel
Just finished reading a Sorcerer’s Treason by Sarah Zettel. This is my first time reading Sarah Zettel but definitely won’t be my last. I thought this was a great fantasy adventure, the worlds were well drawn and interesting to read about and, although I’m a bit late to read this series, the added bonus of my tardiness means no wait for books 2 and 3. So all good to me!
The Sorcerer’s Treason tells the story of Bridget. Bridget is a light keeper living on Sand Island during the early 19th century (think it was the early 19th c anyway). She is an outcast from the general population due to her past, a child born out of wedlock that mysteriously died, and also because of her strange psychic abilities which give her vivid images of both the past and the future. Bridget lives a very solitary and quite sad life although she takes her duties very seriously. During a storm she rescues a stranger from certain death on the rocks. This stranger has either hit his head harder than Bridget at first suspected or he is a sorcerer from a distant world reached through the land of death and spirit. A world of magic where animals are not always what they seem. This stranger, Kalami, wants to take Bridget to this world where her own magic will elevate her status hugely – and where she’ll be able to help the Grand Dowager protect her realm – Isavalta – from those who would wish to harm it. It all sounds too good to be true!
I really enjoyed this, in fact I thought it was quite captivating. There’s plenty going on and it moves forward at a fairly rapid pace. The characters are well described and well rounded. Both worlds are equally good to spend time in and I think Zettel manages to write in such a way that makes the scenes easy to conjure to the mind.
On top of this we have this strange folklore wound into the story. Witches (Baba Yaga) who reside in curious, chicken legged houses, crows who are not all they seem and the fox spirits led by the Vixen. Not to mention a caged and flaming phoenix, courtly intrigue and an interesting form of magic where spells can be woven into belts and clothing and worn about the person.
I just really liked the way this book was laid out. We have different points of view and lots of different threads coming together, not in a confusing way at all but in a way that just makes you want to turn the pages faster.. And, what I particularly liked was the way that the author made me feel as wondrous and new to the world as Bridget was. It was quite bewitching really and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of Bridget’s tale.
In terms of characters – there’s plenty of interest. My particular favourite was Ananda and her sorcerer and protector Sakra. I also liked the strange animal spirits who have their own powerful magic and live in a different plain where the rules are all different.
I don’t really have any criticisms. I suppose you could say that this is a fantasy tale in the more traditional fashion rather than the more modern style fantasies that we are all currently enjoying – but this was written about 10 years ago, and this isn’t a criticism really because I really like this style and I think the author succeeds in weaving a great tale.
I would certainly recommend this and look forward to continuing this story.