Book Review: ‘Betrayal: Trinity Book 1’ by Fiona McIntosh

Posted: 26 October 2013 in Book reviews
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At it says in the title, ‘Betrayal’ is the first book in the Trinity Trilogy. It is my recent loan from the library. I’d never heard of the author and to be honest, it was one of the only series I found there that had them all there. There is something intriguing about pulling a book off a shelf and taking it with you, regardless of what the story is about. I’m going to start doing that.

Anyway.

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To start off, I just have to say I found it an interesting read in some good ways and some bad. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The story starts off where the first book ends, at an execution (not my fault for giving the end away). Here we meet Torkyn Gynt, apprentice physic, potent sentient (which he would be ironically killed for if this fact were ever discovered), loved by all woman, admired by the men, lover and beloved of an Untouchable, and supposed saviour of the world. The irony is that it is his execution, but surprisingly not because of him magic. Bring in Alyssandra Qyn. She is an Untouchable having voluntarily relinquished her powers and confining herself to Acadamie (basically a convent for sentient woman) and the odd protection of the king. The relationship was an instance death sentence if they were found, which they were. But you (the reader) don’t know that yet. All you know is that Tor is about to be executed, some random character named Sallementro (who gets mentioned later in the book) is observing, Merkhud (Tor’s mentor and Master Physic) is about to try some complex magic to try and save him, and Alyssa is observing the proceedings.

Then we are taken to the beginning.

Around five or so years prior to the execution, Tor is a simple village boy and son of a scribe. He is in love with a girl from a nearby village named Alyssa. Both of them are sentient, which is illegal. The slightest hint of you having magical ability gets you bridled by the land’s feared Inquisitor Goth. He is a tyrant who shows no mercy regardless if you are sentient or not. Goth has come to a village where Tor and his father are helping to bridle a sentient woman. He is kept from doing anything to horrendous by the sudden appearance of Merkhud, who senses the use of magic when Tor stuns the woman to keep her from getting hurt. He tracks Tor down as Tor is about to propose to Alyssa after the Floral Dance. When Tor sees him, he freaks out and they separate, seeing each other for the last time for many years.

Merkhud tracks Tor to his family’s house and convinces the boy and his family to let Tor go to Tal (the capitol) to he his apprentice. They don’t know that he has ulterior motives. Tor agrees to go. He acquires a horse with money Merkhud gives him and makes his way to Hatten, a city by the coast. Here he meets and attempts to save a deformed man named Cloot from being tortured. Prime Cyrus, captain of the royal guards and who actually saves Cloot, gives the cripple to the care of Tor and send two of his men to help them find a place to stay. With the help of a doctor (and later Tor’s magic) Cloot is healed and survives. While Cloot rests, Tor takes part in a local festival and ends up becoming King of the Sea. He has some strange encounters and tries to ‘reconcile’ a misunderstanding with a local prostitute, Eryn.

In the middle of the night, he is awoken by Cloot that they need to leave right then. They didn’t know that just outside of Brewis, Cyrus was being captured after his soldiers were drugged and the sentries killed. They sped through the night to the Heartwood forest. There, Cloot is transformed into a falcon and they rescue Cyrus while at the same time exposing Tor’s magical ability. Cyrus, like Cloot, have been assigned as Tor’s protectors by a mysterious woman named Lys who appears to them in their dreams. They make it to the capitol after King Lorys and members of the army go searching for the captain. Once they get back, Tor is introduced to the King and Queen and then begins his apprenticeship.

Before Tor was to leave his home, he was going to ask Alyssa to come with him to Tal. When he got to her home, she was gone and no note was left. He couldn’t even link with her. What he didn’t know was that the were being deliberately kept apart. A couple days before he came, a woman named Sorrel showed up at Alyssa’s house and ended up convincing her to come with her on her travels. Against her better judgement, she did. Around Fragglesham, they met up with Cirq Zorros. Unbeknownst to them, Saxon (one of the performers) was on of her protecters sent by Lys. He saves her after she is raped by Goth and believes he has killed him (be Goth miraculously survives). The three travel with the circus until Bebberton and Ildagarth when they broke off and continued on to Caremboche. There they are surprised by the presence of Goth. He beats Saxon to a pulp and gouges out his eyes and kills his two nephews after they help Alyssa make it into the gates of the Academie. There she stays for years.

Fast forward about five years. In a majestic show of power, Tor saves the life of the queen as she lay on her deathbed. Merkhud is happy but also furious at Tor’s careless use of his power. Tor has enough and announces his intention to leave. This throws Merkhud into a panic as it disrupts his plans. In a last attempt, he has Tor go to the Czabba Festival at Caremboche as representative of Merkhud and the King and Queen. He goes. In Saddleworth, Cyrus angrily shows up and accompanies them (Tor and Cloot). In the Heartwood forest, Cyrus must follow a different path while Tor and Cloot continue on to Caremboche, arriving sooner than expected.

There, life for both Tor and Alyssa gets turned upside down. First, an acolyte named Xantia falls in love with him and hates Alyssa out of jealousy despite having once been very good friends with her. Alyssa soon discovers that Tor is the rumoured representative when they are awkwardly introduced. Tor talks to the head elder and has Alyssa replace Xantia as his guide. In a weird twist of fate, when Tor touches the archalyt disc on her forehead, it falls off (it adheres forever once it is placed on a sentient woman). She suddenly sees the world differently and is able to link with Saxon who survived Goth’s attack. She shows him around the town, but has to escape quickly back to the Academie when Goth appears.

They hatch a plan to steal away on the night of the Festival, which Xantia nearly ruins before casting a curse upon Alyssa before they disappear in a mighty show of magic. In the Heartwood Forest, they meet back up with Saxon, who has been healed by the forest, and Sorrel. Tor and Alyssa are left to consummate their relationship and then get married by a holy woman who lives in the forest. The woman exposes Alyssa’s pregnancy and their is much rejoicing at the understanding of the Trinity, the ones who shall save the world from Orlac. They live peacefully in the forest until the day of the birth. Then life takes a turn for the worst.

I’ll leave off there. My initial reaction to the book was I liked the beginning, got annoyed towards the middle, and then got back into it in the end. The story is very interesting. It is an apocalyptic story where the fate of the world rests in the hands of a mysterious group known as the Trinity. There is magic, intrigue, suspense, the makings of a really good series. But along the way, the balance gets overwhelmed and aspects of characters become unrealistic and annoying. Then somewhere towards the end, the balance resets itself and becomes tolerable again. I was just thinking, my reaction was kind of the opposite of how I felt about ‘Twilight.’ I’ll explain below. In all, I liked the plot and what the story was. There is enough mystery to keep you invested in finding out what happens.

Let’s talk about the characters. There are two main characters, Tor and Alyssa. They are two parts of the Trinity. Tor is often referenced as the One by Merkhud when he speaks with Sorrel or Nanak (someone you’ll learn about in the book). They are only about 16-years-old when the story starts. You can’t help but feel sorry for Alyssa with all she has to go through from Tor, then Goth, and then Xantia. Tor on the other hand, starts as a decent guy and then turns into an arrogant man-whore. His attitude is enough to drive anyone crazy. The annoying thing is that you never really see any of the character development. She see a bit of it as they journey to their respective futures, but then they have all of the sudden developed and you have to just see it in how they treat people and react. Tor goes from nice to arrogant with the turn of a single page. The he becomes something else when he arrives in Caremboche and finds Alyssa. It’s like all of the sudden he’s a wonderful person again. It makes no real sense. Now how this relates to ‘Twilight’ is that ‘Twilight was tolerable when the Bella and Edward were apart (book 2) but not when they were together. In this book, the two characters were much more normal together and more extreme when apart.

The you have the secondary characters Merkhud, Sorrel, Cloot, Goth, Saxon, and Xantia. Sorrel, Saxon and Xantia are fine and work as characters, but I have a few problems with the other three. Merkhud and Cloot are centuries old, but yet their character voices at times are exactly the same as Tor’s. Especially Cloot’s. It gets really annoying. They should both be so massively different from Tor’s and each other’s but they’re not. It was the same issue I had with Alison Croggon’s books. Goth’s character voice is fine. It’s just that he is way too evil. This surprises me because I love bad characters. I think it’s that he was TOO over the top. He killed people regardless of whether they were helping him or not. It was too much.

My other big issue is that there were a handful of noticeable inconsistencies. One example is in the prologue some guy reads a lengthy list of his misdeeds while he sits in a chair before being stoned. The actual end of the book is very different from that. I understand that during the writing process things happen, but the editor should have noticed them. The writing is also quite cliche and and used foreshadowing more often than necessary. The foreshadowing was frustrating because it sometimes ruined the flow.

Because the ending was intriguing, I have decided to find the second book and read on. Otherwise I would shelf it. I just hope that the next one doesn’t disappoint. If you decide to take this one on, I hope you enjoy 😉

To buy on UK Amazon

To buy on Barnes and Noble

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