The Twins of Saranthium, book 2
Pan Macmillan Australia (2010)
Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack
Betrayal is a difficult book to review, because it’s so middle of the road; didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, didn’t find it very memorable. There’s not much wrong with it, but there’s also very little to make it stand out from the great mass of published books.
The novel is book two of a series, and I hadn’t read book one. Although this obviously left some holes in my knowledge of the plot, it didn’t feel very hard to pick up. I was pretty confident I knew what was going on fairly early on. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it very interesting.
Shaan and her twin Tallis have escaped from Azoth – a fallen god intent on conquering the human world. He has enslaved the people of the Wild Lands, and amassed an army of human-serpent warriors (created through a cruel magical process that often involves unwilling subjects). He has plans to invade, and he intends to implement these very soon. The only chance humans have is to unite against him.
But the Council of Nine in Salmut is concerned with internal political struggles, and is far more interested in waging war on the Free Lands than in uniting with them against Azoth. Most don’t understand the scale of the threat posed by Azoth. His activities, and those of Shaan and Tallis have awoken the Four Lost Gods – and although it’s possible they’ll destroy Azoth, it’s also possible they’ll destroy humanity along the way.
So Shaan and Tallis try to convince the Council of Nine of the threat, and when they fail, each takes matters into their own hands. Tallis will prepare the Desert Clans for war and bring them to the aid of Salmut. Shaan, meanwhile, will commit an act which may save them all – or be the greatest betrayal of all.
This was a reasonably tight plot that flowed well and made sense; but it had a sense of staleness about it. I had no sense of originality or freshness, and although it was a pleasantly written book that wasn’t hard to read, I didn’t find it particularly compelling either. I really don’t care much whether I ever read the third volume and find out what happened.
Similarly, although the characters were interesting and believable enough, they lacked the extra spark that would make me care about them and what happened to them. It was easy to forget them the moment I put the book down.
There was, as I said, not a lot really wrong with this. The writing was pleasant and easy to read. The plot was well worked out and straightforward enough to follow. The characterisations were believable. This novel will probably work well for people who like fairly traditional fantasy, and don’t like too many big surprises or challenges when they’re reading. It’s perfectly okay. But most people won’t find it memorable, and most really won’t care a lot about what they’re reading. It’s a pleasant enough way to spend some time, but doesn’t have a lot else to offer.