Friday, February 16, 2018

The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine

The Traitor Prince by CJ Redwine
Release Date - February 13,  2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  416 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Javan Najafai, crown prince of Akram, has spent the last ten years at an elite boarding school, far away from his kingdom. But his eagerly awaited return home is cut short when a mysterious imposter takes his place—and no one believes Javan is the true prince.

After barely escaping the imposter’s assassins, Javan is thrown into Maqbara, the kingdom’s most dangerous prison. The only way to gain an audience with the king — and reveal Javan’s identity — is to fight in Maqbara’s yearly tournament. But winning is much harder than acing competitions at school, and soon Javan finds himself beset not just by the terrifying creatures in the arena, but also a band of prisoners allied against him, and even the warden herself.

The only person who can help him is Sajda, who has been enslaved by Maqbara’s warden since she was a child, and whose guarded demeanor and powerful right hook keep the prisoners in check. Working with Sajda might be the only way Javan can escape alive — but she has dangerous secrets.

Together, Javan and Sajda have to outwit the vicious warden, outfight the deadly creatures, and outlast the murderous prisoners intent on killing Javan. If they fail, they’ll be trapped in Maqbara for good—and the secret Sajda’s been hiding will bury them both. 
The next novel in the Ravenspire series offers up a fantasy twist to The Prince And The Pauper tale It is a story that I am not overly familiar with (other than some vague memory of Mickey Mouse cartoon) but one that grabbed my interest immediately due to my love of retellings. It offers a story about identity, freedom, and the responsibility a leader has to those they serve.

The world that CJ Redwine has built over the course of the three novels within the Ravenspire series is breathtaking. There are so many details that make you want to dig deeper. There is a richness to the overall world that entices you to discover more. It's a series that could easily continue for countless books simply because of the vastness of stories that could be told. It's the world that shines the brightest within these stories and that fact is used to its fullest.

Javan, the rightful prince of Akram, is filled with honour and noble intentions. He wants nothing more than to make his father, and his kingdom, proud. He is so kind and caring that, at times, it is hard to believe him capable of the violence he has to commit to survive the deadly tournament he finds himself in. He is, at times, selfless to his own determent.

Sajda is the character who I found the most fascinating. An enslaved young woman who has had to learn to protect herself. She wants nothing more than her freedom. Freedom from her captors. Freedom from the harsh reality that is her life. The freedom to live her life the way she wants to. She is Javan's polar opposite in that she is jaded, bitter, and guarded. Her story is one of the more heartbreaking elements of this novel, and one I found myself really invested in.

This novel benefits from a decent villain in Rahim. It is easy to understand his motivations. He acts in his own self interest at all times which makes for an interesting dynamic as the story progresses. He is not overused and the author does not rely on this character to carry the conflict in this story. The secondary threats, such as the prison warden, do a lot of the heavy lifting, but Rahim is perfectly used as someone pulling the strings in the background.

There is some romance lightly sprinkled within the story. A romance that worked for me because of the sparseness in which it was used. The romance only carried the plot when necessary, and ensured that both characters grew because of the connection growing between them.

The nods to the original tale of The Prince And The Pauper are sprinkled throughout the story. The item that reveals the true identity of the prince is found, along with idea that there is much to learn from having to walk in someone else's shoes. A large part of the story revolves around Javan having his eyes opened to the realities of the kingdom he is desperate to save. It makes him realize things that his privilege may have prevented him from seeing.

The ending of this story, while satisfying, felt a little rushed for me. I wish it had taken a little more time to allow the events that occur during the novel to really be felt. The adjustment that would happen due to the events that transpire did not feel as jarring as I anticipate it would. It felt a little too neatly wrapped up, but I expect many will be happy with an ending that feels as hopeful as this one does.

If you're a fan of retellings and are looking for one that feels a little more unique, I recommend this series and this particular book in particular. The Prince And The Pauper is not an inspiration for many YA retellings, so this one really felt fresh to me while I reading it. It's a welcome addition to the Ravenspire series, one that I hope sets up many more to come.

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