Melanie Rawn
The Mageborn Traitor (Exiles, Volume 2)
DAW Books 1997

This is the second volume of "Exiles". If you haven't read The Ruins of Ambrai, don't read any further.

Sometimes when you start reading the second volume in a series, you find out that it doesn't live up to your expectations. It's not even in the vicinity of living up to them. This is one of those books.

Sarra is leading the new, progressive government of Lenfell, step by step implementing her plan for a new and better world, while her husband Collan raises their twin children, Mikel and Taigan, who promises to become two of the mightiest Mage Guardians when their powers are released. Cailet is Captal of the Mage Guardians, now returning from the underground to work in the open, while their evil older sister Glenin lurks in the safety of Malerris Castle, spinning her webs and readying herself and her son for their return to power.

This volume is about Sarra's and Glenin's children growing up. Glenin arranges different surprises for the Liwellan twins, while Sarra and Cailet are quietly waiting for Glenin's son to show up. At last, there is someone who fits the description. Actually, two. Josselin and Jored, two stunningly beautiful, orphaned young men with strong magical abilities who show up at Cailet's Mage Academy to be taught magic. But which one is Glenin's son? Who is the mageborn traitor? And that's when things start heating up a little.

Unfortunately, that's after more than 500 pages of smalltalk and quite uninteresting stuff. And it's still not very good, just readable. Sometimes writers like Robert Jordan and Tad Williams are accused of using too many words, slowing things down and so on. But here Ms. Rawn goes beyond that, making The Wheel of Time feel like a compact novel. I think the story of this book could be contained in a 200 page book with no loss at all if all completely unnecessary smalltalk was edited away. And if people didn't walk around telling each other things they all know but the reader doesn't, the dialogue would move to a new level of realism - more like an ordinary TV soap.... OK, now you know, I hated this novel. It was one of the most terribly written novels I've read in years, and I read some really bad stuff occassionally. What's really bothering me, is that I'm certain that Ms. Rawn can do so much better than this. The Golden Key was excellent, and the first Exiles-book wasn't anywhere near this catastrophe, even though there was a certain wordiness in that one too. But when she hasn't done her homework properly, isn't there an editor who can tell her to go home and work it over one more time? My problem is that I like the characters, and I'd really like to know how it all ends, but I don't want to wade through this kind of sloppy jelly-writing once more. What should I do? Can anyone give me a synopsis of the next book?

Karl Henriksson


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Other books by Melanie Rawn:
The Ruins of Ambrai (Exiles, Volume I)
The Golden Key (w/ Kate Eliott and Jennifer Roberson)

Exiles: The Official Melanie Rawn Website (personal home page)
A Tribute to Melanie Rawn (fan page)


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