Review: The Traitor’s Game

The Traitor’s Game
By Jennifer Nielsen
Published February 27, 2018 by Scholastic

There’s a lot that’s familiar in The Traitor’s Game: a corrupt kingdom, an evil ruler, a ragtag group of rebels, and a boy and girl who can’t stand each other forced to work together. But the author pulls all these elements together into a very entertaining story. No, it doesn’t break any new ground, but if you like YA fantasy tropes, you will probably enjoy this book.

Traitor's GameThe kingdom of Antora once had two royal families, the Halderians and the Dallisors. The two clans have fought over the throne for many years, and in a last-ditch effort to defeat their rivals, the Dallisors allied with Lord Endrick, one of a race of people with serious magical powers. With Endrick’s help, the Dallisors won the war, but Lord Endrick took the throne and the Dallisors now serve him, while the Halderians were banished.
Kestra Dallisor is the daughter of Lord Endrick’s right-hand man. She’s been called home by her father after a three-year exile. On the journey, she’s waylaid by group of rebels, the Coracks. They hold her servants hostage and force her to help them find a legendary dagger that is supposedly the only weapon that can defeat Lord Endrick. With two the Coracks, Trina (who loathes Kestra even more than the rest of the rebels) and Simon (who shares a fraught past with Kestra), Kestra returns to her home, where her welcome isn’t exactly warm.

This book is filled with tension. Kestra doesn’t get along with her father and she hates Lord Endrick, but she’s still very conflicted about betraying her family. She’s not at all convinced that the Coracks’ motives are pure and she’s concerned about their connections with the Halderians, who kidnapped and nearly killed her three years ago.

There is a dual narrative with alternating chapters from Kestra and Simon’s point of view. Both narratives felt distinct, and I liked being able to see both sides of the story, since the two characters are working at cross purposes for much of the book. This being a YA fantasy, it’s not exactly a surprise when their mutual antipathy slowly turns to affection. I liked the romance, although I thought that Simon’s hatred turned to love a bit too fast. Kestra’s gradual change in feelings works a bit better.

There are lots of twists and turns, and everyone is keeping secrets. I predicted one of the twists, but then things went in an expected direction. This was a quick, entertaining read and may appeal to fans of The Winner’s Curse series and The Remnant Chronicles.
I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.