The Betrayal: Pati Nagle’s prose is a treat!

Readers’ average rating:

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Pati Nagle Kind Hunter 1. The BetrayalThe Betrayal by Pati Nagle

The Betrayal tells the story of a conflict between the aelven (elves, of course) and their exiled kin, the alben, who were outcast from aelven society in the distant past when they became afflicted with vampiric urges. I’m a little sick of vampires in general, but Pati Nagle‘s take on them is original, and it makes sense. The magic of the aelven is based on exchange of khi, or energy, and the alben’s blood drinking is a logical corruption of that.

There are two intertwining narratives here. One follows Eliani and Turisan, two young aelven who are drawn together by the rare magical gift of mindspeech. This gift creates an instant bond between them that eventually leads to romance, and it also has the potential to become a powerful weapon in the hands of the aelven. Eliani struggles with the gift; she knows that accepting it would be advantageous to the aelven, but due to past heartbreak, she is resistant to the close relationship it would forge between herself and Turisan. The other plotline is told from the point of view of the alben queen, Shalar, who has two fervent desires: a child (the alben have been infertile for long years), and the return of her clan’s homeland.

The aelvan live alongside a lesser race called kobalen. The name reminded me of kobolds, and so I was initially picturing goblinlike creatures, but I quickly began to suspect that the kobalen are…something else. The ethical treatment of kobalen is a recurring issue in The Betrayal. The aelven think of them as just above vermin, while the alben hunt them for blood and enslave them, yet some are beginning to wonder whether they should be regarded as sentient beings.

The question of “personhood” comes up in regard to the alben as well. The alben are considered to be aelven no longer, but several aelven characters find themselves wrestling with the knowledge that the two races are closely related, and with the possibility that the alben’s blood drinking may not be voluntary. This leads to another issue: war, and the need to consider all the available information before taking up arms. I like that Nagle questions the “giant epic battle solves everything” trope that sometimes appears in high fantasy.

Pati Nagle’s prose is a treat. It’s elegant; she’s great at using just the right amount of “archaic” or “elevated” language to add to the mood without impeding the flow of the story. She’s also skilled with descriptions. The beauties of nature and of aelven handiwork, from embroidery to palaces, are vivid throughout the novel.

The plot is tight and well-executed, with several threads that promise to come together in interesting ways. I hadn’t realized this was a series and hoped it would be resolved in one book, but when I realized I was near the end, I knew it was not to be! Alas, this means I’ll have to wait to find out how this story ends, but I’m looking forward to it.


SHARE:  Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail  FOLLOW:  Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrsstumblr
If you plan to buy this book, you can support FanLit by clicking on the book cover above and buying it (and anything else) at Amazon. It costs you nothing extra, but Amazon pays us a small referral fee. Click any book cover or this link. We use this income to keep the site running. It pays for website hosting, postage for giveaways, and bookmarks and t-shirts. Thank you!

KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

View all posts by

No comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Thoughtful Thursday: Fantastic Beings | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews - [...] we welcome Pati Nagle who writes the BLOOD OF THE KINDRED (here’s my review of The Betrayal) and the…

Review this book and/or Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add your own review

Rating