I promised J.C. Kang that I would read True Colors of Betrayal in January when he sent me a review copy. Well, I got to it a bit early thanks to my new one book at a time reading policy. Reading print books at home and e-books on mass transit has not been a good idea for books in either category. The digital review copies were being completed more slowly, and there were so many print books that weren't getting completed at all. I'm already seeing a small improvement in the number of books that I'm getting read.
True Colors of Betrayal is the third book in J. C. Kang's Daughter of the Dragon Throne series. The main protagonist of this YA fantasy series is Princess Kaiya, a member of the Imperial family in an alternate version of China known as Cathay and Hua. I reviewed book one, The Dragon Scale Lute, here and book two, The Dragon Charmer, here. As usual, this review is an honest one.
Based on the foregrounding of the male character on the cover, you might think that he was the protagonist. I imagine that he is Tian. Tian is Kaiya's childhood friend who was exiled from the Imperial court for reasons that you will discover in this novel. His narrative role is mainly action hero, but he's protecting Kaiya. Characters are seen in relationship to Kaiya who is still the protagonist.
If Kaiya had continued to progress in the direction that she was headed at the end of The Dragon Charmer she would have been an even more formidable leader at the close of True Colors of Betrayal. Unfortunately, her momentum was disrupted by trauma. This is the fate of far too many women, but it isn't a natural stage of development. Kaiya was hijacked on her life journey. She was transformed into a survivor who would never see the world in the same way again.
The antagonists in this novel are the Teleri Empire. I originally thought they might be an alternate Mongol horde. Yet on reflection, after reading this book, the closest parallel to the Teleri seemed to be the Castor clones of the BBC science fiction series Orphan Black for a number of reasons which would be serious spoilers.
There was a long chase sequence in this novel that I found rather uninteresting. It has always seemed to me that all chase sequences are the same. The only way they can diverge is by mode of transportation which doesn't really provide enough variety. The plot picked up for me after Kaiya stopped fleeing though the resolution was rather bleak.
I sincerely hope that Kaiya can fully recover from her victimization. Judging from the description of the fourth novel in the series, she has a rough row to hoe.