Brandon's debut, the first in a projected trilogy, is an impressively imaginative epic disguised as an unassuming romantic fantasy. Set in the Veiled Isles, a politically unstable realm steeped in a mythical and potentially cataclysmic magic, the story begins with a nobleman's sheltered daughter setting off to meet her betrothed in a distant city. When Jianna Belandor is abducted by highwaymen and taken to a rebel stronghold, suddenly she's in a very different story. Once imprisoned, Jianna realizes that her kidnapper is none other than her own estranged aunt, who wants control over the family fortune. While the revolutionary and romantic threads are engaging, it is Brandon's multilayered narrative that makes this novel such an immersive reading experience. Rich world-building, relentless pacing, and some tantalizing subplots (involving a reclusive inventor, his automaton doppelgänger, and amphibian "quasi-men") suggest that Brandon is an author to watch. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Rich world-building, relentless pacing . . . an impressively imaginative epic . . . While the revolutionary and romantic threads are engaging, it is [Paula] Brandon’s multilayered narrative that makes this novel such an immersive reading experience.”—Publishers Weekly
“Compellingly complex motivations and character dynamics mark Paula Brandon’s welcome debut.”—Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of Naamah’s Kiss
“A flawless all-round performance . . . Here’s a story to enwrap, enchant, and sweep you away.”—Richard Harland, author of Worldshaker
“Paula Brandon’s The Traitor’s Daughter is a dark, rich feast, rife with plagues, kidnappings, political intrigues, bloody crimes, bloodier revenges, arcane upheavals, and the threat of zombies.”—Delia Sherman, author of Changeling
A life of luxury and duty awaits Jianna Belandor as she makes her way to the estate of her betrothed, but then she is kidnapped by her father's estranged sister, who intends for Jianna to marry her brutish son. Jianna's resourcefulness in taking control of her own fate leads her to a strange alliance as she views her father—and her privileged life—with new eyes. Brandon's first novel, set in a world of rival families and distinct social classes, introduces a strong-willed heroine who learns that the world is not what she had perceived. VERDICT This trilogy opener, with its lush backgrounds and detailed society, should appeal to fans of Jacqueline Carey and Melanie Rawn.
In a debut fantasy, the first of a series, a young woman begins discovering her hidden strengths in a rebellion-torn land that will soon face a much greater threat.
The city of Vitrisi despises Magnifico Aureste Belandor, a collaborator with the conquering Taerleezi. The only one who loves him unreservedly is his daughter Jianna, a clever, spirited young woman who's been carefully kept from discovering her father's true nature. Some hint of the truth slowly dawns when she's kidnapped en route to her wedding by distant relatives whom her father robbed of their rightful place. Faced with a new marriage with her thuggish cousin, Jianna's only hope is Falaste Rione, a brilliant doctor loyal to her harsh, vengeance-obsessed prospective mother-in-law, but who develops sympathy for the bride-to-be when she's forced to serve as his assistant and turns out to be surprisingly competent at it. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to everyone but the most skilled arcanists, the entire world is endangered by the imminent reversal of the Source, responsible for maintaining the world's magical and physical laws; this detail plays only a minor role in the book, but will clearly take center stage in later installments. Brandon's world-building is acceptably solid and character development is fairly rounded, particularly that of Dr. Rione and Magnifico Vinz Corvestri, a resistance supporter desperate for the love of his dutiful wife. However, other character behaviors seem questionable. Given the Marquis Belandor's blunt refusal to accept any fact that doesn't accord with his desires, how could he be capable of the subtlety required to reach his present position? Why does the supposedly intelligent Jianna never wonder why none of her noble peers want to associate with her?
A decently accomplished maiden effort; worth hanging in there to see what develops.