“With threats stirring above and below ground, ally is set against ally, and not everyone will survive the calamity that will follow…”
Emma L. Adams is back with Traitor’s Tome, the much-anticipated and riveting sequel to my personal SPFBO9 semi-finalist Death’s Disciple. Giant war drakes, elemental magic, necromancy, snarky anti-heroes, riveting mysteries, and ruthless political machinations; this dark yet deadly fun fantasy series has it all.
Traitor’s Tome picks up several weeks after the explosive ending to Death’s Disciple, and continues the tale of our three unlikely allies as they each try to deal with the fallout of the crazy events at the end of book 1. Though their time for recovery, recuperation, and rest is brutally cut short, as a dangerous book used by the god of Death’s followers has now gone missing. Corruption should have been eradicated, but it appears the god of Death is not so easily defeated after all.
Now, I rarely jump into a sequel without re-reading a prior instalment first if it’s been a while, but Death’s Disciple left such a mark on me that I felt safe to just dive straight into Traitor’s Tome. And to my pleasant surprise, I was completely reimmersed in this epic world within just a couple of pages. Yes, there’s a wonderful ‘The Story So Far’ section (thank all that is holy), but even without that, Adams just does a masterful job of easing you back into the story and cleverly reminding you of how things left off.
Reconnecting with my favourite characters from book 1 was honestly just an absolute blast, and I loved getting an additional perspective from a more bookish and scholarly type of heroine who I found to be one of the most intriguing secondary characters in Death’s Disciple. The pacing in Traitor’s Tome is slightly slower compared to book 1, which I personally really enjoyed as I felt like we really got the time to sink into the story and get to know these characters even more intimately than we already did.
Yala is trying to lie low and connect with some of her old squad mates, while Kelan and Niema both return to their respectives homes and are faced with the heavy consequences of their actions. I do think the true magic happens when these characters are all on page together, but seeing them all be off on their own for the majority of the novel allowed for some phenomenal character growth and a really smooth expansion and deepening of the world building.
One of my only minor quibbles with book 1 was that I felt like we barely scratched the surface of all the intriguing things this world had to offer, but that was quickly resolved in Traitor’s Tome. The scope expands significantly, and the implications and repercussions of the events in both book 1 and the prequel novella Monarch’s Mission are seamlessly woven into the narrative.
The religion-based magic system continues to be one of my favourite aspects of this story, and I loved seeing much more of the various different factions of Disciples. The prominent themes of faith, divinity, corruption, and the bending of history really come to the forefront as more and more people get wrapped up in the dangerous political schemes threatening the tenuous peace in this world, which quickly raised the stakes. And honestly, seeing the different manifestations of all of their respective elemental powers, including the death magic, also just made for some undeniably cool, cinematic, and wonder-inducing scenes.
Now, while I did genuinely enjoy all the benefits of the slower pacing, I do think it took a while for this story to really find its aim. Even though the mystery of the dangerous missing book is introduced very early on, I somehow felt like there was a certain lack of urgency. And I also can’t deny that I just somewhat missed the effortlessly funny dynamic and snarky banter between all of these characters while they were all separated.
Luckily, the latter half quickly recaptured the magic of the first book for me, as it was filled to the brim with riveting revelations, shocking twists and turns, entertaining interactions, and pulse-pounding action scenes. And because there is always just a certain air of mystery and intrigue permeating every aspect of these pages, Traitor’s Tome still proved to be an unbelievably easy tome to fly through.
If I wasn’t already hooked and in for the long haul after Death’s Disciple, then I now certainly am. Traitor’s Tome provided some much-needed answers, but also left me with even more mind-boggling questions, which is exactly the type of reading experience I want in a good and satisfying sequel.
My best attempt at a pitch I can give for this series is: House of the Dragon meets Avatar the Last Airbender, with a good dose of The Walking Dead thrown in. I realise that might sound chaotic, but I promise it works. So, if that seems like something you’d enjoy, I highly recommend picking up the Death’s Disciple series. It deserves much more love!
Thank you to the author for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Traitor’s Tome is available through Emma’s site on January 16, 2024, and goes up for general sale on February 6, 2024.