cover image The Traitor

The Traitor

Anthony Ryan. Orbit, $18.99 trade paper (600p) ISBN 978-0-316-43083-8

Ryan’s masterful conclusion to his Covenant of Steel epic fantasy trilogy picks up where 2022’s The Martyr left off in the unpredictable arc of its morally ambiguous lead, Alwyn Scribe, who now serves as the right hand of Evadine Courlain. Evadine, the supposedly divinely resurrected Risen Martyr, aspires to unify warring kingdoms as their Ascendant Queen, ostensibly to avert an impending apocalyptic event called the Second Scourge. But Alwyn, whose relationship with Evadine became much more intimate in The Martyr, begins to doubt her intentions after she asks him to lie for the first time. Those concerns are magnified by suggestions from others that Evadine is a servant of the Malecite, “the wellspring of evil in the world,” leaving the reader in suspense as to whether the “traitor” in the book’s title will turn out to be Alwyn or Evadine. Ryan’s thoughtful characterizations and complex plotting are on clear display, enhanced by his evocative prose (“Night had the effect of transforming the great spire of Martyr Athil’s cathedral into an ominous black spike, its jagged, buttressed flanks catching a scattering of abstract, flickering shadows from the many campfires littering the city below”). This sends the series out on a high note. Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (July)