The Traitor's Ruin by Erin Beaty | Review

Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: July 10, 2018 << out tomorrow!
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Traitor's Circle #2
My rating:

After proving her worth in book one as a deft spy and strategic matchmaker, Sage Fowler is now comfortably positioned in high society as the royal tutor. When she’s called upon to teach his majesty’s soldiers how to read and write, she jumps at the chance to serve her kingdom of Demora—and to be reunited with her fiancĂ©, Captain Alex Quinn. During a skirmish, Sage and Alex are separated. She watches him die before he can deliver important military intel—or so she thinks. She escapes from the enemy and makes an unlikely alliance with a mysterious soldier from a third nation. As Sage tries to rally their support against a common foe, the important political alliance is plagued by secrets and betrayal.

Can Sage complete Alex’s mission and save her kingdom once more?

When I finished The Traitor's Kiss last year, I was so excited to read the next book, eager to be back with Sage, her friends, and her world. Now that I have, I am happy to say that The Traitor's Ruin was just what I was hoping for: another suspenseful, action-packed read with a swoon-worthy romance.

Having been exposed to criminality, war, love, and friendship, Sage was no longer the sheltered and naive girl she was in The Traitor's Kiss, and her growth from that first book was clear in this second book. Her actions and decisions showed how she has come to understand the importance of letting others in and her realization that one accomplishes more when collaborating with others. She was still as stubborn as heck with a temper as hot as fire, so her blunders in The Traitor's Ruin often involved her taking out her emotions on others and deciding for her loved ones, despite her best intentions. Still, sympathizing with her confusion and frustration over herself and others, I admired her so much. She went through a lot in this book—losing friends, navigating foreign lands, and strategically building alliances between nations—and under all the stress and pressure, she was rather graceful through it all. For her strength, courage, and wisdom, I applauded her. I am so proud of how she has grown and matured throughout this book, this series thus far. I look forward to reading more about her in the third installment.

Sage's love interest, Alex, surprised me in The Traitor's Ruin. When I met him and Sage in The Traitor's Kiss, I distrusted them both, but Alex most of all. He seemed kind of cold and he held too many secrets. Then in this book, I didn’t understand why he pushed others, including Sage, away when he actually needed help. As I read more about him, however, he grew on me. In The Traitor's Ruin, his military prowess and honorable heart are further explored as he gets separated from all his friends and family and is forced to face his enemies alone. During the moments when he allowed himself to succumb to his loneliness and exhaustion, I wanted to reach in and hug him then yell to everyone where he is just so they'd finally find him, but, alas, I had to hopelessly watch him ride it out to the end. I came to admire his cunning, his strength—both physically and mentally—and his surprising patience with the people he cares for and loves. He is perfect for Sage, able to match her in stubbornness and temper and then calm her down when she needs to be comforted the most. He also grew in The Traitor's Ruin, both as an individual and with Sage, and I am excited to learn more about him in the next book.

As for the plot, it was rather predictable and less suspenseful than The Traitor's Kiss. Since all of the primary characters' identities were made known, this second installment lacked the mystery that made the first so appealing. There was some mystery as Sage and Alex strived to piece together the plans of their enemy, and in that mystery, dramatic irony came into play as the two were separated for the vast majority of the time, knowing critical pieces of information at different times. However, when all of the characters finally came up to speed with what the audience knew, the scene was anticlimactic. My reaction was an unenthused, "Well, that happened," and the story went on at its usual pace. In hindsight, I probably held too high of expectations, thinking about the classic examples of dramatic irony while reading it in The Traitor's Ruin, so this issue is only minor. But, overall, I was hoping for more suspense in the plot.

An aspect that was not as prevalent in The Traitor's Kiss but was in The Traitor's Ruin was the world-building, particularly geography and history of the setting. I absolutely loved it. In The Traitor's Kiss, the setting was mostly built on the differing upbringing of Sage and Alex and how marriage—the very ideology and practice of it—defined those differences. In The Traitor's Ruin, the cultures—how they are connected in history and influenced by their differing geographies—of Sage and Alex's world are explained and explored. I enjoyed learning about the politics and history, how these two topics invited other ideas, such as racism, language, and the use of physical space. The world-building made the story more authentic, and I appreciated the perspective I gained from reading it all.

Readers may miss the melodrama of hidden identities and matchmaking that was in The Traitor's Kiss, but The Traitor's Ruin has much to offer with its web of betrayals, secrets, and politics. I recommend it to all who have read The Traitor's Kiss and missed Sage as much as I did. For those who hadn't even read the first installment of The Traitor's Circle series, what are you waiting for? Erin Beaty's books of deceit and military prowess are not to be missed.

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