Title: The Traitor Prince
Series: Ravenspire #3
Author: C. J. Redwine
Genre: YA, Retellings
Published: February 13th, 2018 (Balzer + Bray)
Synopsis: Javan Najafai, the crown prince of Akram, has spent the last ten years at school, far away from his kingdom. He’s been eagerly awaiting his return home to his ailing father, but his journey there goes dangerously wrong. A mysterious imposter has taken his place—and no one will believe Javan is the true prince.
After barely escaping the imposter’s hitmen, Javan is thrown in the most dangerous prison in his kingdom—Maqbara. The only way to gain an audience with the king and reveal the truth is to fight his way out in the prison’s yearly tournament, which pits inmates against a coterie of the deadliest creatures in the world.
The one person who can help him is Sajda, a strong and secretive girl who has been enslaved by Maqbara’s warden since she was a child. Working with Sajda might be the only way Javan can escape alive—but she’s hiding something.
Together, Javan and Sajda will have to outwit the dangerous warden, outfight the hundreds of deadly creatures, and outlast the murderous prisoners intent on killing Javan before he can win—in order to fight for their freedom, and take down the imposter once and for all.
Javan Najafai, Crown Prince of Akram, has finally completed his studies at an elite boarding school and is eager to return home to his father. But there is a deadly plot afoot, and after barely escaping an assassination attempt, he makes his way to Akram only to find that an imposter has taken his place. Having not seen Javan in the last ten years, no one is ready to believe that he is the true prince, and he is thrown into the dangerous prison of Maqbara. There is only one way to get out and reveal the truth to his ailing father – to fight in the prison’s yearly tournament which involves some of the deadliest creatures in the world. Sajda, a slave of the warden, agrees to help him gain the skills he needs to win, but she has secrets of her own, and Javan will need to find trustworthy friends and allies to make it to the end.
This third installment in the Ravenspire series was in my opinion the darkest yet. Based on The Prince and the Pauper along with an Arabic folktale, the serious tone of this book was certainly a departure from the previous novels in this series. The plot within the palace was much more intricate than I expected and certainly had some subtle shades of The Lion King and Aladdin which I really enjoyed. The POVs switch between Javan and Rahim, the false prince, and it was really interesting to see the other perspective of the story and Rahim’s motivations behind agreeing to this plot. Of course, the multiple villains was also something new and each of them was so well thought out.
In the previous books, we’ve seen magic, dragons, fae and more. Though The Traitor Prince involves comparatively little magic (although there are several fantastical creatures), it’s really more about the character arcs. Considering that much of this book takes place inside the prison of Maqbara, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, especially as Javan starts out as a rather annoying character with how naive and idealistic he is. But I ended up loving his character arc, as the time in prison which could have turned out really dull was used for some amazing character development. Javan is probably the most realistic character in this series yet and one who is so easy to root for. C. J. Redwine has, in Javan, has created a character who truly comes alive as he not only fights to reveal the false prince, but also grows into his future role of a king, which involves much more than he in his ideals of good and right imagined. Despite the hardships that Javan goes through, he retained not only his sense of honour, but his faith that justice would be done.
Sajda is an equally amazing character and one of the strongest and fiercest female protagonists I’ve come across. Her backstory is as moving as Javan’s and the way their relationship developed was lovely. I remember this story quite clearly even though I read it a while ago because it was one of the first audiobooks I ever read – and it took forever. It does take a while for the story to pick up the pace and for any real action to happen, but this tale is much deeper than it appears at first glance, which is why this is easily my favourite book in the Ravenspire series.
Overall, The Traitor Prince was quite the thrilling read and I really enjoyed this twist on a fairytale that for once I actually like. It would have been nice for the ending to have tied up all the loose ends, but sometimes, a vague resolution works best. I would highly recommend this for fans of retellings, and if you’re already reading this series, The Traitor Prince is not one to be missed.