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The Mageborn Traitor (Exiles #2), by Melanie Rawn
"The Mageborn Traitor" opens not too long after "The Ruins of Ambrai" ended. Sarra and Collan are married; Cailet is looking for a new home for the Mage Guardians; and Glenin is a new mother, planning glorious future for her son.
Time passes. Cailet finds a place to build the Mage Academy and begins construction. Sarra and Collin have twins -- a boy, Mikel and a girl, Taigan. Glenin continues raising her son, whose name we won't learn until the end of the book.
There is a reason why it takes so long for us to find out Glenin's son's name.
You see, after a roughly seventeen-year time jump following the birth of Glenin's son, an unbelievably gorgeous, dark-haired, gray-eyed young man named Josselin Mikleine turns up in their lives. The story is that Josselin was an orphan taken in by a woman with the Name Mikleine, so his original Name is unknown. After his first foster mother died, Josselin was passed from foster mother to foster mother.
His current foster mother has arranged for him to marry the horse-faced, but spectacular-figured Mirya Witte, but he doesn't want to marry her. His plan is to wait until he is old enough to contract for himself and then refuse the wedding. It turns out that he is Mageborn, so off to Mage Academy he goes.
Not too long after Josselin shows up at Mage Academy, another, slightly less unbelievably gorgeous, dark-haired, gray-eyed young man named Jored Karellos turns up. He, by the way, is also apparently an orphan who has been passed from foster mother to foster mother.
One of these two young men is Glenin's son. But which?
We see a lot of the domestic life of Sarra and Collan, including the growth of their twins, Mikel and Taigan. Rawn has a real fondness for twins, so it was not surprising to see another pair of twins in this volume. And we see quite a bit of the public life of the Liwellans, as well, as Sarra puts legislation into motion that will end some of the inequities of life on Lenfell, including the abolition of the Bloods and Tiers. It is interesting that Sarra and her elder sister both desire the end of the stratification of Lenfellian society, though Sarra wants it because she believes that accidents of birth shouldn't limit one's mobility and Glenin wants it because then the Lords of Malerris can have free rein to rearrange society the way they believe it should be.
This is a fascinating book. Lots of things happen that really bring this world to life, such as society's reaction to Mirya Witte's abuse of her first husband, Ellus Penteon.
I know that Melanie Rawn had a personal situations that halted the final book, but I am still really frustrated by it.
Speaking of what happens next, I have posted some speculation on where this series might go in the final book. There will be one spoiler from something Melanie Rawn said at a convention, but everything else will be speculation. So if you are spoiler-averse, you will be able to read most of it safely.