The Rebellion’s Last Traitor by Nik Korpon
Published by: Angry Robot
Release Date: June 6, 2017
The Rebellion’s Last Traitor is Nik Korpon’s latest offering, coming off his contribution to the SOUL STANDARD (a 4-way author interconnecting novel-in-novellas, say that 5 times fast). It’s an interesting departure for Nik Korpon as he’s mainly known as a crime writer with noir leanings, but in TRAITOR he’s created a thriller dressed with splashes of sci-fiction telling an overarching mystery spanning a decade.
TRAITOR follows Hanraek, former rebel leader-turned memory thief, and Walleus, a former comrade/rebel leader-turned high ranking official in the Tathadann Party. Memories are bought and sold in this not-so-distant future, allowing the Tathadann Party to rewrite history of Eitan City as they see fit. Memories are also experienced as a drug, and Hanraek comes upon a memory of his dead wife and child which will change the course of both protagonist’s lives and the course of Eitan City as a whole.
The world building in this novel is intricately expanded upon as Korpon touches upon key moments in its history: the flames of Amergin, the Resource Wars which lead the world down its path to the present day, the beginnings of the Struggle (rebel group), the aristocracy and politics of Eitan City. It encapsulates into a rich, culturally/socially varied world which is easy to digest. Much of the novel parallels our own contemporary issues: class warfare, terrorism, fascism, and rebellion (duh), but is never done in a way which Korpons views are shoved down the readers throats. It’s getting to the root of where those things come from, on both sides of the issue, and the novel is quite engaging in that regard. It discusses these issues throughout the narrative in an unflinching, and honest way.
Nik Korpon’s writing has evolved yet again. While I wouldn’t say his previous books plots were weak, I would say that he has definitely stepped his game up quite a few notches. Some of the twists regarding Hanraek’s plot thread came at you so unexpectedly & fastball quick, so that was a great experience for me. I read this novel in about 3 sittings, so it’s very much a page turner. As I’ve said before, Nik Korpon is one of the very best when it comes to writing action and that’s no different here — some of the fight sequences alone are film-worthy. The contemporary drama between these former comrades, what is said/unsaid, political intrigue, and the hidden blades throughout the narrative pay off quite well.
Some have said that dual protagonists are indistinguishable from the other, and I have to disagree. Their viewpoints upon the world, society at large are very distinct, as is the use of language between both. Hanraek is a man caught in the unending grief of the loss of his wife and child, and lashes out quite frequently throughout the novel, whereas Walleus is a more calculated individual keeping a poker face even through the most stressful of circumstances.
All in all, this is a layered, smart novel that has something in it for just about any reader, really.