I knew that I would enjoy this book, but I did not think I would be blown away like I was. There’s always a layer of apprehension when you open a sequel, worried about where the plot might go and if it will live up to what made you enjoy the first novel. I found that Faoii Betrayer lives up to its predecessor and then some. Beware of spoilers for the following review.
Faoii Betrayer has an incredible storyline. In the original novel, the city of Clearwall was a fascinating little setting that didn’t take the focus of the book- instead being one of a handful of locations that Faoii-Kaiya encounters. Here, it was much different, as nearly the entirety of the novel takes place behind the maze of Clearwall’s borders. We learn what became of humans after the fall of Illindria- the legendary Godfall war having changed everything. I am in awe of how Ms. Nelson was able to craft such a varied storyline- she truly considered everything, from Kaiya’s inexperience and lack of help in the aftermath of killing Illindria versus new weaver Jacir, who has much more power and much more support. I loved seeing the difference in circumstance, the new attempt, the hatred towards the Tonicloran and the attempt not to use it. The history of these novels is well crafted, threads and plotlines carefully woven like those of the Tapestry. It’s impressive, this story, and I loved seeing the Faoii order’s downfalls. Much like the first novel, they are a flawed order.
In The Last Faoii, their mistake was that they had allowed themselves to become too disconnected with the rest of their order, having little to no communication between monasteries and leaving them open to being split up and ambushed. But in this novel, it’s another human flaw: Relying too heavily on magic and forgetting to appreciate other means. Once, the Faoii were an order of warriors. But they became too invested in their gifts and powers given to them after the war, and decided not to accept those that had no such gifts. Unfortunately, this led them to create a powerful enemy.
The split timeline was a favorite aspect of mine in this novel. The majority of the novel, you follow Ilahna and her brother Jacir. However, there is aso another timeline that pops up from time to time, featuring a little girl named Ali who wants nothing more than to be a Faoii- but does not show any signs of magic by the age cutoff for joining, and therefore is rejected. Again, I have to applaud Ms. Nelson for her ability to follow so many storylines and keep it all in line without any detectable plot holes.
I see a lot of symbolism in this series, and I wholeheartedly love it. Faoii cannot predict what future they will get, there are too many options- just like humans can’t choose the future they will get, it’s too unpredictable. Those who try to control the future, ultimately fail. I loved seeing a lot of the same messages, and I feel like Ms. Nelson actually improved from the first novel to this one. There’s definitely a better read to this one, and I honestly wish I could score it higher than a five.
Overall, you can tell I loved it. But I want to point out one aspect in particular: The powers. Specifically, Ilahna’s gift to bring out the truth. I feel like in real life, there are many examples of when something happens and those around you choose not to believe in the truth. The truth often gets covered up, or ignored, by those unwilling to see it. Being able to convince people of the truth, make them hear it in her words, is such a valuable one. I adored Ilahna’s power, as did I enjoy most of the powers. I loved her romance, and I loved the mentor role- albeit reluctant- that came about with Kaiya. I also especially loved every reference to Kaiya’s friends from the first novel, proven not to have been forgotten even after two hundred years.
The Faoii series is a series that has strong tones of right and wrong, justice, and fighting for what you believe in. I’m not sure where the series will go from here- but I’m excited to dive into the next book and find out. I heavily recommend this novel.