Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
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Books for Adults - FictionPirates & Privateers Traits & Traitors Sailors & Spies Dinghies & Deceit
After a decade of training, Dagrun Lund returns from her first assignment only to learn from spymaster Joosep Sepp that her twin sister has gone missing. Dagís value as an Intelligencer is her Unseen Trait, and she quickly figures out that her boss is involved in Ingerís disappearance in some way. Dag has always looked out for her sister, whose trait of always being noticed makes her accepting of all others without comprehending their motives. For her to run away means that someone upset her and, from what Dag uncovers, that person is none other than Tarmo Holt, the Grand Freeholder of the Fair Seas Treaty Alliance who only has three months left before he must relinquish that title and its authority to another. He wishes to mate with Inger so she might bear children with other Traits Ė ones he might use for his own purposes even though itís against the law to have personal spies. When Inger refuses, he threatens Dag with future assignments of great danger, but Ingerís Trait prevents her from understanding that these are idle threats. To save both herself and Dag, she runs away and now Dag must find her.
Joosep Sepp regrets discussing his Intelligencers with Tarmo Holt, but never before has a Grand Freeholder attempted to usurp his authority as spymaster. Dagís return provides no useful information about the next man who will become his boss, other than to confirm his identity. Past transitions of the office have gone smoothly, but Holtís questions and Ingerís disappearance arouse Joosepís suspicions. Then another of his Intelligencers learns that Holt may have dealings with pirates. Somehow all these separate issues are connected, but how? He requires Dagís Trait to discover the truth, but sheís off looking for her sister and he has no idea where. What he needs is a trusted agent with luck to find her and Inger and bring them back.
Calder Rahmsonís Lucky Trait has kept him alive for many years, first during his childhood, then as a privateer, and for the past decade as an Intelligencer. His return from his last mission coincides with Seppís need to find Dag, but thereís no telling how long his search will take. He learned long ago not to force his Luck; it leads him to places where he will learn something he needs to know when he needs to know it. His first success comes when he overhears a conversation that tells him that someone is looking for children with Traits, especially twins, whose Traits are stronger than those in individual children. Although this doesnít seem relevant to his mission of finding Dag and Inger, it must have importance else his Trait would not have revealed it. Next, he comes across a woman on the docks who has knowledge of two women boarding a privateer ship heading for Strongrock Island at two different times. He dons a disguise, signs aboard an outbound ship, and follows. But not everyone aboard the vessel is pleased with his presence and the captain seems more concerned with speed than the safety of his ship and her crew. Aside from those dangers, thereís also the risk of pirates, for a number of ships Ė some with crew members whom Calder considers friends Ė have gone missing.
Pirates & Privateers is the fast-paced, gripping first entry in Glattís Intelligencers fantasy series. Dag and Calder are intriguing characters and their back stories are intricately interwoven into a maze of twisted, but seemingly unconnected, threads. Reminders of who has what Trait and how these work, as well as frequent repetition of questions needing answers may annoy some readers, yet these elements also keep the complicated plot and main characters front and center throughout the story. While a resolution is reached and Dag, Inger, and Calder evolve by storyís end, remaining questions and a budding romance keep readers hooked for the sequel, Traits and Traitors, slated for release in 2019.
Review Copyrighted ©2018 Cindy Vallar
Traits & Traitors
By Jane Glatt
Tyche Books, 2019, e-book ISBN 978-1-989407-00-4, CAN $4.99 / US $3.99
Print ISBN 978-1-928025-99-3, CAN $20.12 / US $11.95
Having escaped the pirates once, Dagrun Lund and Calder Rahmson flee their safe haven just before the Ghost Ship attacks a nearby port. They must get to Tarklee and warn the Fair Seas Treaty Alliance (FSTA) of the destruction of waterfront warehouses, docks, and shipyards, but to accomplish this they must first learn to trust each. Their superior, Spymaster Joosep Sepp, has never permitted Intelligencers to work together or to know each otherís Traits. Through trial and error Dag and Calder use their Traits Ė hers, Unseen, and his, Luck Ė to piece together the puzzle. It began with the stealing of ships and amassing weaponry. Now, Joosep is held prisoner by Tarmo Holt, the current Grand Freeholder of the FSTA and a man who is in league with the pirates. The destruction of the shipyards means no lumber to build more ships and the burnt warehouses warn of insufficient stores to feed people in the future. But how are these various threads woven together and why? Dag and Calder may be the only two Intelligencers who can thwart this wicked alliance.
Gustav Gunnarson is a novice Intelligencer, but he survived his first mission to spy on Holt. With Joosep and his assistant missing, Gustav is uncertain what to do and who to trust. Itís definitely not Vilis, another trainee, who Gustav spies with a sheaf of papers taken from Joosepís office. Gustav doesnít believe Vilis, and wishing he knew who to trust, he becomes an itinerant peddler walking the streets of Tarklee to garner snippets of information. If he can discover what Holt is up to Ė quite likely since his Trait is Charisma and people happily converse with him Ė he might find Joosep. While in disguise, he happens upon the pirate captain and Dagís twin sister meeting with Holt. Gunnar doesnít understand everything discussed, but realizes there is discord between the cohorts and that Holt pays the pirates to track down Calderís family. They can do what they like with the captives, as long as their kidnapping brings Calder to Holt.
Traits & Traitors is the sequel to Pirates & Privateers and is storytelling at its best. Glatt drops us into the midst of the action and holds us captive until the end of the tale. Just when you catch your breath, another twist pulls you right back into the streets of Tarklee where you scurry beside Dag, Calder, and Gunnar to unearth more clues that will aid in Holtís downfall. The characters are compelling and the story unfolds like an intricately woven tapestry in a distant land. The primary adventure is satisfactorily resolved, sometimes with gutwrenching surprises, but tantalizing subplots will entice readers back for the next installment of The Intelligencers.
Review Copyrighted ©2019 Cindy Vallar
Sailors & Spies
By Jane Glatt
Tyche Books, 2020, e-book ISBN 978-1-989407-13-4, CAN $4.99 / US $4.99
Print ISBN 978-1-989407-12-7, CAN $19.98 / US $14.95
The machinations of the former Grand Freeholder of the Fair Seas Treaty Alliance (FSTA) have left their world in chaos. All but two ships have been destroyed and, with winter soon upon them, there isnít enough food to sustain everyone. Worse, the evidence suggests that someone else was behind Tarmo Holtís failed attempt and the danger remains.
Dagrun Lund and Calder Rahmson, both Intelligencers, are sent to find much-needed supplies before the seas freeze. That is their primary mission, but Dag has a second. She pursues Holt in hopes of reuniting with her twin, Inger, whom Holt manipulated into doing things that have labeled her just as much a traitor to the FSTA as he is.
Nadez Norup is forced to become the new Master Intelligencer. Itís impossible to know who to trust, since Dag and Calder are away, and clues suggest that someone has been acquiring some of the Intelligencers to work against the FSTA. Some do so freely, but at least two Ė Janni and Jarri Breck, who should never have been trained as spies in the first place Ė are held against their will and compelled to use their Traits to do unspeakable things.
The last thing Lauma Strauskas wanted was to become the Grand Freeholder, but Calderís mother has accepted the interim position. Somehow, she must lead the FSTA out of the mess left behind, but not everyone agrees that she is the best person for the job. The more she and Nadez work together, the greater the danger Ė a fact that is soon reinforced when assassins try to kill her. Both women, however, are determined to unearth the mastermind and help everyone survive the coming winter. If necessary, Lauma will dissolve the treaty, a dire step that might be the only available option, but doing so will also disband the Intelligencers.
The journey to purchase supplies provides Dag and Calder with essential clues that eventually necessitate they separate to accomplish their missions. Before then, they interdict a ship in distress. Dagís Unseen Traits warns that the pirates aboard are merely playacting and Calder knows one of them. That man is Rahm, Calderís father Rahm. He pretends to be a pirate, but Dag figures out that he is actually a spy and a man whose secrets have secrets. He canít be trusted, but her pursuit of Holt and Inger necessitates his help. It also brings her into the realm of the Resolutes, the most feared of all assassins. Nor is she alone in pursuing Holt. A rich, powerful, and ruthless pirate seeks him and will kill anyone who gets in his way.
While Sailors & Spies may seem anticlimactic, the sleuthing connects dots that provide invaluable clues for the two volumes yet to come. It serves as a way-stop in answering two key questions: How and Why. The many single threads in this third book in The Intelligencers series are intricately woven into an unfinished tapestry yet to be resolved. After the last chapter, readers will crave the next installment.
Dinghies & Deceit
By Jane Glatt
Tyche Books, 2021, e-Book ISBN 978-1-989407-32-5, CAN $4.99 / US $4.99
Print ISBN 978-1-989407-31-8, CAN $19.95 / US $15.95
Rescued to do someone elseís bidding, Pia prefers to hide in plain sight and keep a low profile. Her only goal now is to protect her younger sister, an innocent victim in the same personís manipulations. She works hard and learns new tasks, each of which may prove valuable in being able to become self-sustaining. At the same time, she and Frieda help in the global need to provide food during the upcoming winter. Pirates alter her perspective when they invade the warehouse where she works and take her co-workers hostage. Never a willing Intelligencer, she must implement her training to rescue them. Together with Gustav Gunnarson, another Intelligencer, they use traits of Concentration and Charisma to find out what the piratesí end game is and prove that they have once again formed an alliance with one of the Freeholders.
With winter fast approaching, Intelligencers Dagrun Lund and Calder Rahmson must return to the Sapphire Sea once more to gather food and supplies for the Fair Seas Treaty Alliance. But Dagís trait keeps warning that something is not right. First, the pirates have divided into two factions and abandoned their longtime base of operations. Second, her twin sister Inger has disappeared. Third, Calderís father has again lost his assassinís token. No longer is his target a notorious and dangerous pirate named Pinho; itís a man whom Inger cares about. Then Dag discovers that children with traits have been taken from their parents and imprisoned. Determined to find and protect them, she follows that trail while Calder attempts to stop his father. If he fails to safeguard Inger, Dag will never forgive him and their love will be lost forever.
In the meantime, the Freeholders gather to determine how to proceed in light of the devastating pirate attack that destroyed the allianceís ships and placed their people on the brink of starvation. Lauma Straukus, Calderís mother and the Acting Grand Freeholder, will dissolve the alliance and protect her own people rather than allow another corrupt Freeholder to assume the office. Dagís suggestion of changing the treaty is a worthwhile one, but getting enough votes for that to happen proves difficult. It doesnít help that Lauma and Master Intelligencer Nadez seem to be working a cross purposes, especially after Nadez unearths rumors that one of the Freeholders gained their title through murder.
This fourth book in The Intelligencers series is perhaps the most complex. Myriad threads dealing with piracy, human trafficking, corruption, and power are interwoven to create an intricate web, but the tension one might expect from this never quite reaches the mark. The primary focus is on Pia and Gustavís journey, which is so vividly portrayed that readers will find themselves shivering with cold and yearning for hot soup to regain some warmth. Those new to the series may want to first read the earlier titles to gain a better understanding of whoís who and what traits are. Fans of the series will definitely be intrigued by some of the mysteries left unsolved.
Review Copyrighted ©2021 Cindy Vallar
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