Fear out. Courage in.
To be published in February 13, 2018 by Balzer + Bray
e-ARC provided by HarperCollins on Edelweiss+
Genres: YA fiction, YA fantasy, Action & Adventure, Fairy Tales & Folklore
Themes: royalty, stolen identity, romance, duty, honor, faith, courage, determination, sacrifice, friendship, acceptance, love, power
My synopsis: An Arabic retelling of The Prince and the Pauper: Javan, the Crown Prince of Akram and an honorable and dutiful son, has been away from his kingdom for ten years striving to fulfill his mother’s dying wish, to obtain the coveted red sash awarded to the one who has earned the most honors in Milisatria, an elite boarding school. Rahim is an ambitious and ruthless young man who grew up in poverty, a bastard thrown away by his own father, and he is willing to get rid of anything and anyone on his way to the life he thinks he deserves. In Rahim’s quest for power, he participates in a political conspiracy to steal the prince’s identity. In order to protect his father and his rights, Javan needs to survive battles against deadly monsters and desperate prisoners. What does it take to win the throne – Javan’s honor or Rahim’s ambition?
I’ve never read the original The Prince and the Pauper, so I can’t do a detailed comparison of how similar the plot is to The Traitor Prince. However, I do know that in the original, the identity switch was decided mutually, so that’s a major difference.
Although it is listed as the third book in the Ravenspire series, I can personally attest that The Traitor Prince stands on its own – it begins and ends independently from any previous or upcoming books in the series (I’ve never read the first 2 books), and from my understanding, it is simply set in another kingdom adjacent to the kingdom/s from previous Ravenspire books.
Though mostly told in Javan’s point of view, some chapters were also told by Rahim, the impostor, as well as Sajda, a slave who becomes Javan’s friend. This added another layer to building complex characters. We start to find out the strengths and weaknesses of Javan, Rahim, and Sajda, but also the motivations behind their actions.
I think I tried really hard to be engrossed in the world, but somehow I felt distant. Maybe because it was a darker fantasy world. I did enjoy the gladiatorial scenes though, I thought they were exciting albeit gruesome and brutal and cruel.
As much as I was entertained by the action scenes, I think what I appreciated most were the underlying themes – the depth of the topics touched through the characters and their experiences.
One of the dominant themes is Javan’s faith. Even through all that he’s been through, he always falls back to his faith. His struggles to remain faithful is presented very realistically. Sometimes he wants to give up and he feels abandoned, but then suddenly he finds peace within despite the chaos he’s surrounded with. I can certainly relate to this as it is similar to my relationship with Jesus Christ – I can’t always understand His will and His timing, but at the end of the day I trust that He only has my best interest.
Power is neither good nor evil. It just is. It’s what people do with power that matters.
Another theme explored is power. Sajda is the obvious one – she possesses a great power, and is subjected to being called a “monster” because of it. Though other characters such as the warden and the impostor prince who possess their own type of power are accepted even though they use their power to commit monstrous acts.
Overall, it was really enjoyable. I like the little bit of romance, and it’s nice to see it build up well, so definitely not insta-love. I’m really satisfied with the resolution.