The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine
Summary From Goodreads:
Javan Najafai, crown prince of Akram, has spent the last ten years at an elite boarding school, far away from his kingdom. But his eagerly awaited return home is cut short when a mysterious imposter takes his place—and no one believes Javan is the true prince.
After barely escaping the imposter’s assassins, Javan is thrown into Maqbara, the kingdom’s most dangerous prison. The only way to gain an audience with the king — and reveal Javan’s identity — is to fight in Maqbara’s yearly tournament. But winning is much harder than acing competitions at school, and soon Javan finds himself beset not just by the terrifying creatures in the arena, but also a band of prisoners allied against him, and even the warden herself.
The only person who can help him is Sajda, who has been enslaved by Maqbara’s warden since she was a child, and whose guarded demeanor and powerful right hook keep the prisoners in check. Working with Sajda might be the only way Javan can escape alive — but she has dangerous secrets.
Together, Javan and Sajda have to outwit the vicious warden, outfight the deadly creatures, and outlast the murderous prisoners intent on killing Javan. If they fail, they’ll be trapped in Maqbara for good—and the secret Sajda’s been hiding will bury them both.
This is another great fairy tale retelling by C.J. Redwine. I have really enjoyed her writing, feeling like she describes things well enough for me to visualize everything that is going on. Everything seems to flow well and the stories have all grabbed my attention quickly.
Javan is the prince of Akram. He has been away at school for ten years and he hasn’t seen his father. While he was getting ready to graduate, he is attacked by a dragon and then attacked again right after graduation and thrown into water to drown. He is able to escape, but finds that someone came to the school, pretended to be him, and left with all his stuff. Javan must get back and stop the impostor before something happens to his father.
When Javan arrives back, he confronts the impostor, Rahim, but is arrested because of it. There is a traitor in his family that said that Rahim was the prince and Javan was the impostor.
Because of a kind man, he is thrown in jail instead of killed. There he meets Sajda, who is a dark elf and slave to the warden. She has to wear cuffs to keep her from using her magic at full strength. Sajda keeps mostly to herself and only really likes one older prisoner, Tarek. Javan helps Tarek one day and becomes a part of their group.
The warden runs the prison corruptly. She holds these tournaments where the prisoners must fight different beasts that are trying to kill them. Each beast is worth so many points with the high point winners moving on to each round. The prisoners are also fighting each other at times. The winner receives time with the king, so Javan sees this as the only way to see his father and tell him what happens.
While in prison, Javan sees all the wrongs being committed to his people. Many of the prisoners had no trial and quite a few were there for things they didn’t do. Everything is going wrong and he needs to fix things by getting rid of the impostor. But the warden has other plans for Javan.
Javan and Sajda start as friends, but they slowly fall in love over time. All she wants is to be free, but she finds herself torn between freedom and Javan.
“It was lonely in the starlight, but lonliness was better than being surrounded by another kind of prison. There was just one thing missing in the starlight.
I really enjoyed reading about Javan and Sajda. The tournaments were full of excitement and the beasts/monsters were super creepy. These are things of nightmares and I absolutely loved that.
I ended up giving this one 4 1/2 stars and can’t wait for book four. I won a copy of this arc (quote may change after final printing) from Goodreads.
Do you love fairy tale retellings? What are some of your favorites?