A Sorcerer's Treason centers around a Wisconsin lighthouse keeper named Bridget Lederle. Bridget is an old maid in 1899 society and lives with her housekeeper and her housekeeper's son. She has made it her mission in life to save as many of the sailors as she can by almost religiously guarding the light. When a stranger is cast ashore wearing strange clothing and speaking a strange tongue, she takes him in - and ends up changing her life forever.
Bridget finds herself transported from Wisconsin to the fantastical world of Isavalta (reminiscent of Imperial Russia). She places her trust in Kalami, the handsome sorcerer who was cast upon her shore and persuaded her to go to Isavalta, but is he being honest with her? For, as soon as she travels to Isavalta, she is thrust into the dangerous political power struggle between Medeoan, the aging dowager empress, and Ananda, the foreign princess who married Medeoan's only child, Mikkel. Kalami is on the side of Medeoan, but Bridget finds herself strangely drawn to Ananda's sorcerer, Sakra. When the gods of nature choose to get involved, a new world is about to be born...
The reason why I loved this book is because of Zettel's stunning characters. Bridget is a strong woman who has been punished for past mistakes and doubts her own abilities - though her choices become quite clear cut at the end, she still struggles to do what she knows she must. Valin Kalami is a foreigner sorcerer, the only one of his race to willingly go to serve the empire of Isavalta who conquered them. Even though he uses Bridget to gain his own ends, the reader still feels empathy for him and hopes that he will succeed in some way. Sakra is Kalami's opposite in that he is completely loyal to his princess. Ananda is a strong-willed foreign princess whose greatest crime was to fall in love with her husband. Even the gods and goddesses get involved including the Vixen, the Crows, and Baba Yaga. Everyone has their own reasons and everyone is torn between difficult decisions.
My only complaint about the book is that I would have liked to spend more time with Bridget. Zettel jumps back and forth between different character viewpoints, usually every chapter, sometimes more often. This can be slightly disorienting and a bit offputting as the story loses some of its flow. It is nice to see the story through other characters' eyes, but it made Bridget seem less like the focal point of the story and more like the first person that Zettel chose to tell the story through. I would have preferred that more of the story was told through Bridget's eyes, with supporting views every now and again from other characters.
Other than that small complaint, I have nothing to dislike about this book. The world was rich and full of detail. There are many different cultures and plenty of old rivalries that affect the future of Isavalta. The characters are complex and multi-faceteted. I sincerely hope that we will see more of the Isvalta series to come as the end left you hungry for more.
This report prepared by Debbie
Tor, Apr 2002, 27.95, 528 pp.
In 1899 Bridget Lederle tends the Sand Island, Wisconsin lighthouse when she rescues Kalami from Lake Superior. Kalami claims to be a sorcerer from Isavalta, home of Bridget's sire and a place that the lighthouse keeper has envisioned in her dreams. The foreigner also informs his host that his liege the Dowager Empress Medeoan Nacheradavosh sent him to bring her back to their kingdom. He eventually convinces the lonely Bridget to accompany him to his realm where he serves as the royal sorcerer.
However, the Empress has bucked tradition by refusing to give the throne over to the true emperor, her ailing son and his new bride. Meanwhile Bridget learns about her mystical heritage as she starts using her magical abilities in a court filled with political and sorcery intrigues that threaten to engulf the lass. She must learn to follow her instincts in order to decide what is best for her new country, but depend on no one, as a heavy dose of paranoia would help.
Though the names are difficult to read let alone pronounce unless you happen to be Russian, SORCERER'S TREASON is an exciting epic fantasy that young readers (and some of us geriatric boomers) will enjoy. Bridget is a wonderful heroine as she runs the gamut of emotions while threats abound everywhere she goes from dastardly villains who want her dead or be gone, but never cross a sexual line (hence targeted for the youth). Fans of action-packed fantasy starring a strong, courageous female will relish Sarah Zettel's first Isavalta tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner