Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - FictionPirates & Privateers Traits & Traitors Sailors & Spies
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. Dag’s value as an Intelligencer is her Unseen Trait, and she quickly figures out that her boss is involved in Inger’s 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 – ones he might use for his own purposes even though it’s against the law to have personal spies. When Inger refuses, he threatens Dag with future assignments of great danger, but Inger’s 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. Dag’s 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 Holt’s questions and Inger’s disappearance arouse Joosep’s 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 Dag’s Trait to discover the truth, but she’s 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 Rahmson’s 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 Sepp’s need to find Dag, but there’s 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 doesn’t 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, there’s also the risk of pirates, for a number of ships – some with crew members whom Calder considers friends – have gone missing.
Pirates & Privateers is the fast-paced, gripping first entry in Glatt’s 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 story’s 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 other’s Traits. Through trial and error Dag and Calder use their Traits – hers, Unseen, and his, Luck – 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. It’s definitely not Vilis, another trainee, who Gustav spies with a sheaf of papers taken from Joosep’s office. Gustav doesn’t 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 – quite likely since his Trait is Charisma and people happily converse with him – he might find Joosep. While in disguise, he happens upon the pirate captain and Dag’s twin sister meeting with Holt. Gunnar doesn’t understand everything discussed, but realizes there is discord between the cohorts and that Holt pays the pirates to track down Calder’s 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 Holt’s 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 isn’t enough food to sustain everyone. Worse, the evidence suggests that someone else was behind Tarmo Holt’s 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. It’s 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 – Janni and Jarri Breck, who should never have been trained as spies in the first place – 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 Calder’s 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 – 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. Dag’s Unseen Traits warns that the pirates aboard are merely playacting and Calder knows one of them. That man is Rahm, Calder’s 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 can’t 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.
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