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A Sorcerer's Treason: Book One of the Isavalta Trilogy [Paperback]

Sarah Zettel
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 April 2002 Isavalta Trilogy

An exciting new fantasy trilogy from US author Sarah Zettel

Bridget Lederle is the lighthouse keeper of Sand Island Lighthouse, a woman ostracised by the locals because of the bastard child she bore to a visiting Finnish fisherman, and because of her own mysterious antecedents. It is rumoured she’s a witch; certainly, she has strange and uncontrollable visions and premonitions. One day, she has a premonition of disaster and ‘sees’ a small boat being dashed to pieces on the rocks off the island in a storm; the next day the storm kicks up – and she goes out to find a man thrown up on the shore, almost dead. When he speaks, it is in an unknown language; he has bizarre tattoos, and when he wraps a piece of braided cloth about her arm, she is suddenly able to understand him.

He tells her he is from another world, a world in which she is a great magical force, and that her presence is required to save the Dowager Empress, currently under threat from her poisonous daughter-in-law. It is an attractive offer for a woman with nothing to lose (her baby died, she has no prospects in our world); she goes with the wizard to Isavalta. But there she will find nothing is quite as he promised her…

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Product details

  • Paperback: 525 pages
  • Publisher: Voyager; paperback / softback edition (2 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007113986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007113989
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,178,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Already an accomplished SF novelist, Sarah Zettell's debut fantasy, Sorcerer's Treason, shows her to be equally adept in lands of myth and magic.

Bridget Lederele is Keeper of the Light on Sand Island, shunned by the mainland following the birth and death of her bastard child and rumours of her psychic visions. Now she keeps the lighthouse blazing, warning sailors away from the rocky dangers of the lake. Her life is thrown into turmoil when she rescues the tattooed stranger Kalami from the wreckage of his boat and tells her she is needed in another world to defeat the sorceress step-daughter of the Empress Dowager Medeoan. Seeing the chance for a new start, Bridget accepts Kalami's offer but the world she finds waiting for her is unlike anything she has been promised.

Zettell's first fantasy novel is a triumph of story-telling, taking fairytale and folklore and dressing it in lies, half-truths and dark magic. All the characters are powerfully drawn, especially Bridget, a strong and attractive heroine, willing to face her responsibilities as much as the aged Dowager is willing to run from hers, if only because she thinks it the right thing to do. This is a world populated by characters who are flawed to the extreme, not totally evil, but driven by motivations they know to be wrong. It's a world of grey areas and twisted truths that thanks to Zettell's superb plotting only gradually revels themselves. The magic system is rich and detailed with truth spells woven into warm herb bread and transportation spells cast out nothing but air itself. Sorcerer's Treason is a magnificent fantasy novel, showcasing just how good this genre can be. Rich, compelling and exciting, this could be the best fantasy debut in years and is certainly as good as fantasy gets. --Jonathan Weir --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Praise for A Sorcerer’s Treason:

Zettel’s first fantasy novel is a triumph of story-telling…All the characters are powerfully drawn, especially Bridget, a strong and attractive heroine…A Sorcerer’s Treason is a magnificent fantasy novel, showcasing just how good this genre can be. Rich, compelling and exciting, this could be the best fantasy debut in years’ Jonathan Weir, Amazon

‘A fresh and surprisingly exciting fantasy thriller…Zettel’s engaging writing style conjures up a gripping plot and some effective, three-dimensional characterisation. Even the magic system is well-thought out and inventive…this engaging and vivid slice of escapist fantasy will keep fans of Robin Hobb more than happy’ SFX

‘Sarah Zettel’s well-told and absorbing tale is full of original touches’ Starburst

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely successful culture-clash fantasy 6 April 2004
I confess I wasn't overly enthused when this book reached the top of my to-read pile; in my experience, fantasy authors promoted as Exciting New Voices all too frequently turn out to be More Of The Same. By _A Sorceror's Treason_, however, I was more than pleasantly surprised - I was completely hooked.
On the surface, the tale is a simple one, in genre terms: a lonely woman meets a mysterious man from another world, who takes her home and enlists her in a battle against his evil political opponents. Yet Zettel's novel - in both its striking plot twists and its overall structure - swiftly distances itself from cliche.
Bridget Lederle is a memorable character in a vividly-drawn world even before she enters Zettel's fantasy realm. While most novels of this type treat the protagonist's home world as little more than a prelude, a painted backdrop to the real story, here Bridget's earlier life is given welcome emphasis. The close-knit nineteenth-century fishing community in which Bridget lives and works as a lighthouse keeper is portrayed with intriguing detail, its supporting characters fully-rounded individuals. Bridget herself is conflicted, complex and intelligent, resilient but worn out with old emotional pain; as much of an outsider in the world where she grew up as she will be in the one she travels to.
Zettel's fantasy world, meanwhile, does not pale beside its historical counterpart. Isavalta is a fine blend of cultural elements that seasoned fantasy readers will find less familiar, incorporating elements of eastern European, Middle Eastern and Asian folktales and history. Most notable are the fabulous fox spirits, and there is a real sense of old powers with unfathomable schemes at work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original and Well Created 30 Nov 2003
By A Customer
Over a number of years of reading fantasy, I have in general become more critical and less accepting of the majority of offerings. Zettel's book is an exception: although perhaps the plot is not 100% fresh, it is well constructed, and has a heroine of some interest as a character. In terms of the character and also of the two-worlds intertwined type of approach, there were reminders of Stephen Donaldson's "Thomas Convenant" series. Zettel neatly presents the reader with a mystery (which is mostly but not fully resolved at the end of this book), and proceeds to maintain the tension of unknowing throughout many twists of the plot, making the book quite compulsive reading. I look forward to the second helping (despite it being a prequel).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy at its best. 2 Mar 2005
Bridget Lederle takes care of the lighthouse on an island in one of the Great Lakes. She leads a lonlely life being an outcast from the local community after having had an illegitimate baby who died soon after birth. One night she saves a mysterious stranger from a storm. The stranger claims he is a sorcerer from a place 'beyond the land of death' and he wants to take Bridget back with him. With nothing to keep her on Sand island and with a compulsion she cannot understand, Bridget follows Kalami back to his home of Isvalta where her the story really begins and she finds out more about her past than she could ever have dreamed of.
Sarah Zettle, known for her science fiction writing, has proved, with this first book in the Isvaltan trilogy, that she is as capable of producing outstanding fantasy as she is sci-fi. This is fantasy at its best and manages to be that rare beast, an original story in a genre where there are so many tales that are just a variation on a theme.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great new fantasy 3 Jan 2003
This book was recommended to me by a fiend who had read the proof copy and told me if I liked fantasy I would love this book. He was not wrong!It is not since I have read Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry that I have read such a great book covering a cross-world fantasy. The use of Russian folktales, and especially Baba Yaga make this interesting, adding in a Phoenix, magic and a story that keeps you (the reader) guessing as to who can be trusted made this a fantastic and unput-a-downable read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, but not perfect.. 29 Sep 2002
This was so nearly as good as i hoped it would be...
There's an interesting mix of Japanese and Russian-inspired mythology in the background, the heroine is familiarly feisty and traumatised, and the plot isn't as hackneyed as usual. There's a little ambiguity going on between Bridget and the Main Baddy - a nice little twist that i won't ruin here - but there's also the feeling that Zettel is reluctant to follow events through to their logical conclusion, as it were.
I am curious to see how the story is resolved - this is very much an intro to a series, although it is self-contained to some extent - but what annoyed me was the feeling that Zettel isn't prepared to set enough at stake in her character's lives. It feels a little hamstrung by this - almost like she's catering to a YA market rather than adult fantasy readers.
Not bad, as such - just not all it could be. I'm going to wait on book two, and see where this is all going...!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A book that was impossible to put down from start to finish. A mix of magic, sorcery, love and adventure set in numerous worlds. A down to earth heroine who you can not but like. The book leaves you eagerly waiting for the sequal. A fantastic read which i would recomend to anyone who likes a heroine, magic and a gripping storyline.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and involving
What I like most about this book - series, in fact - is the unusual setting. So many fantasy books are set in the same sort of western European, pseudo-medieval setting. Read more
Published on 26 Nov 2011 by LadyLibrary
4.0 out of 5 stars So many plots and layers
Sorcerers and Sorceresses. Witches and animal spirits. The world of the dead, the world of the living. Zombie like creatures. Read more
Published on 6 May 2009 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone - a bit unconnected
There are bits of good story in here - but they are curiously unconnected at times, as if the book had been written by several people, and the editing was not very good; so that... Read more
Published on 1 Mar 2009 by Henk Beentje
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, enchanting and different.
This book follows the story of Bridget Lederle, lighthouse keeper on Sand island; or is she. Tormented by the crowds, as a murderer, Bridget knows nothing about her past. Read more
Published on 9 May 2003 by "jenny8078"
5.0 out of 5 stars A rollicking story and a pleasant surprise!
You know, it just goes to prove that you should NEVER judge a book by its cover. Sadly, I did this at first, yet after starting reading it, I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published on 31 Mar 2003 by Mrs. E. de Jager
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful if a slow start
When I first started reading this book is seemed to be very jumpy and dissjointed but after the first few chapters it redemed itself and after that I could not put it down! Read more
Published on 15 July 2002 by "velf"
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