The Traitor’s Heir
The Knight of Eldaran, Book 1
By: Anna Thayer
What: A young man finds himself allied with a usurper who has targeted his best friend for destruction.
Recommended to those who like: Fantasy, Christian, Young Adult
Note: This book contains mild to moderate language, along with other adult subjects (PG 13).
Eamon Goodman is set to be sworn into the Master’s service—something he’s wanted for most of his adult life. But when an old friend places misgivings in his heart, he suddenly finds himself entrapped in a web of lies, deceit, and an oath he doesn’t think he can keep—or break.
I picked up this book because the cover intrigued me. (Yes, I’m a cover judger. Guilty as charged). The back cover description looked interesting, too, in my defense.
It didn’t disappoint! While it took me a little while to get into, it soon had me hooked. The book provides a nice blend of supernatural action with swordfighting. The characters are believable, with real, conflicting values that turn them from allies to adversaries and back to allies.
What really set this book apart, however, was its examination of everyone’s internal struggle with good vs. evil. There’s great external conflict, but the best part was Eamon’s struggle between his two allegiances—one to his former best friend, and one to the Master, whom he has sworn to protect. Following either gives him supernatural powers, but he knows that no one can serve two masters.
The other thing I loved about this book was the fact that the “good” guys weren’t always perfect (or even trying to be good) and the “bad” guys weren’t bad for the sake of being bad. It’s easy for good vs. evil allegories to produce paper cut-outs, but this story avoided doing so. Furthermore, the story didn’t neglect the fact that, in spite of bad "good guys" and good "bad guys", good and evil are still very, very relevant. The lessons portrayed managed to be thought provoking without ripping the reader out of the story, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.
I would recommend this book for mature teens/young adults and up. There is frequent language use by characters who are serving in the military and the issue of carnal temptation is also visited. Overall violence/grimness of the story also makes this a better pick for a more mature audience. I would give it a PG-13 rating.
The Bottom Line: This fantasy story for young adults and up challenges many conventions of Christian fiction while still providing a thoughtful discussion of the battle between good and evil.