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Betrayed (The Riddled Stone) (Volume 3) Paperback – August 8, 2016
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Seventeen-year-old homeschooler Teresa Gaskins has a particular set of skills, many of which have no use in her day-to-day life. Her interests range from trapshooting, to lock picking, to playing the violin. But her greatest interest is storytelling, which she’s been doing since before she could write. Though she enjoys a variety of fiction, fantasy has always been Teresa’s favorite genre. Betrayed is her third published book, and she hopes to keep writing as long as she has stories to tell. Teresa lives in rural Illinois with her overlord cat Cimorene, her beloved pit bull Natasha, and the rest of her family.
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This last-named book is the third installment of “The Riddled Stone” series. At first, I was afraid that that the changing between different characters’ perspectives and the flashbacks might cause a bit of confusion, but this quickly passed, and I found the plot to be engaging and enjoyable. People who wish to avoid books with any mention of “magic” in them will not care for it, but as one reviewer noted, it is “light” magic which is rare and constrained rather than dark and occultic. There are a couple of common euphemisms (“drat” and “blasted”), but no cursing, swearing, or profanity. It has nothing specifically inappropriate for younger children, but due to the multiple plots and number of characters, the recommended age range is from middle school to adult. Author Teresa Gaskins is a seventeen-year-old homeschooler. Betrayed is part of an interesting fantasy story, but let the reader be warned—the last page says, “Not the End. Yet.”
The setting is a world of "light" magic. Magic is rare, constrained, and follows a sort of logic, which may or not be fully understood by the people in the world. I really like the way in which this sets up plot connections and forces things to happen for a reason, rather than deus ex machina or authorial patronus.
The characters are realistic and cover a range. Starting the series in the middle, I initially had some confusion about who they were and what their relationships were. That passed surprisingly quickly.
There are some obvious protagonists and some obvious villains, but Gaskins creates a nice ambiguity around several of the key characters. Certain writing mechanics are used particularly effectively for explaining characters and character development. Flashbacks help establish the characters' backstories and reveal changes over time. Changing between different characters' perspectives further helps us understand their personalities and motivations. Both techniques are used skillfully and avoid disrupting the flow of the story or development of the core plot.
The plot itself is interesting and engaging with multiple levels of motivation that drive it along. Mainly, this is a group-of-friends quest story that is fun and well told. Among the related plot-lines is a thread about court intrigue, politics and maneuvering for power. For me, this is the weakest part; I don't yet care who sits on the throne of North Raec, nor whether there is a war between North and South. However, this doesn't detract strongly from the book and is made up by the strength of the focus story.
I think the appropriate age range for Betrayed is from adult down to middle school. While there is nothing specifically inappropriate for younger children, readers need a moderate level of maturity to manage the multiple plots and number of characters.
Note: I received a review copy of this book.