The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston

Series: Age of Tyranny #1Genre: fantasy, grimdark
Date of Publishing: June 5th 2018Publisher: Angry Robot

Quote of the Book

“Almost every powerful magus I’d ever met had disappeared up their own arse long ago. Bugger that for a game of soldiers. Me, I was content to be a nobody.”

Blurb

A city threatened by unimaginable horrors must trust their most hated outcast, or lose everything, in this crushing epic fantasy debut.

After ten years on the run, dodging daemons and debt, reviled magician Edrin Walker returns home to avenge the brutal murder of his friend. Lynas had uncovered a terrible secret, something that threatened to devour the entire city. He tried to warn the Arcanum, the sorcerers who rule the city. He failed. Lynas was skinned alive and Walker felt every cut. Now nothing will stop him from finding the murderer. Magi, mortals, daemons, and even the gods – Walker will burn them all if he has to. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s killed a god…

Disclaimer/Personal Note

I’ve been meaning to read it for ages now. Partly because of a review request from Cameron Johnston and partly because I heard great things of it. When I’ve been in London last October, I got myself a paperback copy which I just discovered was signed! Anyway, I picked it now because I longed to read a paperback and it looked at me pleadingly, so…

I also put this book on my Armed with a Bingo card, under the ‘A fantasy/science-fiction book‘ square.

Song of the Book

Well, a grimdark book definitely requires some heavy music. I’ve no idea why, but I kinda wanted to go with Bad Wolves and Run For Your Life seemed like a good match.

Review

I’ve been meaning to read The Traitor God for a while now, but the timing was never quite right for that. I’ve read samples of Johnston’s other works which just made me want to read it even more. Finally the time has come and I have to say, it was worth the wait. I’m just sorry, I haven’t made time for it sooner. I partly read, partly listened to it on audiobook, and let me just tell you, Paul Woodson did a great job giving this book a voice.

Edrin Walker spends the last ten years of his life in exile thanks to a deal he made to keep his friends safe and sound in Setharis. Until one day the game suddenly changes. He not only has to solve a murder mystery, but also has to save the city and keep his head on his shoulders long enough to do so. That’s plenty enough to ask of someone who prefers to stay in the background, minding his own business. The fact that he is a rare type of magus the others hate and fear does not help either. He likes to call himself peoplemancer, others prefer tyrant. No wonder he is not all that fond of the Arcanum.

The Traitor God operates with a couple of well known tropes, such as the Underrated Special One or the Partially Lost Memories, but it’s done in a pretty enjoyable way. It also made me realise – well, it’s not like I didn’t know already – that I indeed prefer books that have one main setting, which I can explore and learn about along with the MC or through them. Also that I love a well established already existing relationship between the MC and other characters. In this case it’s Charra, one of Walker’s friends he wished to keep safe. Oh and let’s not forget about Harailt, his childhood bully. Talking about childhood. I liked how Johnston linked past and present events together in the plot. That definitely was a nice touch, and made a very realistic flaw in Walker’s character. Though flaw might not be the right word for it. I think what I liked about him is that he could be just almost anyone with an attitude, he just happens to be a magus as well. He is not a hero, just a man, whose decisions has serious consequences but he doesn’t hesitate to make them. Come to think of it, this might be the description of a hero. Where am I even going with this? Anyway, he is also a good example at how prejudice can affect a person’s life. That, and plain old manipulation.

The Traitor God has a lot going on for it: murder mystery, magic, friendship, backstabbing, monsters, intrigue and some well placed gory scenes – usually accompanied by fighting which will leave your heart racing. Spiced with humor, though I definitely would have liked to see more of that, I know for a fact Johnston has it in him. I especially found interesting the society of Setharis with the gods, the magi, the gifted and everyone else. How this city was built on the remains of a long gone Empire and still didn’t learn from it.

In terms of criticism, at the beginning, it took me a bit to get into the book. I found the first couple of chapter repetitive, as we kept being told over and over and over again how Walker couldn’t remember that night when he left Setharis. But then we got over that bit of awkwardness, like the beginning of a new relationship, it took a bit of trial and error to find out we actually are a good match. And I very much look forward to our next date in God of Broken Things.

Cameron Johnston doesn’t shy away from making his characters suffer, or get them into impossibly looking situations and splashing a good dose of blood on everything, but he still manages to make his characters painfully real. The Traitor God is a grimdark journey into a city’s (and humans’) deeply buried secrets. Just make sure you don’t run into the Smilers while you walk the streets of Setharis.


Our Judgement

5 Comments

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: