Betrayal is the first fantasy novel in the Trinity series and published in 2001. This was the first series written by Australian fantasy author Fiona McIntosh and contained two other books, Revenge, and Destiny. The Trinity series tells the story of a heavenly prince, Orlac, and his struggle with handsome and empowered Torkyn Gynt, a village scribe in the land of Tallinor, and his beloved, equally magical, Alyssandra Qyn, to raze Tallinor to the ground.
Torkyn Gynt, or Tor, is a sixteen-year-old boy who lives in a small village in the rural areas of Tallinor, a monarchy in which anyone with magical powers, called sentients, are bridled, branded, and ultimately sentenced to death, in following with ancient fear by royally-employed Inquistors, led by the fearsome and cruel Inquistor Goth. Tor and local beauty Alyssa, teenagers in love, are both sentient, however, to the surprise of those who are aware of their powers, their skills go undetected. At a bridling in their local village, in which a young maiden is brutally maimed by Goth, Torkyn uses his powers and is detected by mysterious royal Physic Merkhud. Following a festival and an interrupted proposal, Alyssa and Torkyn are separated, and Merkhud convinces Torkyn to learn medicine and be his apprentice at the Palace in Tal. Merkhud's wife, Sorrel, meanwhile manipulates Alyssa to travel Tal with her. Alyssa becomes bitter and believes Tor no longer loves her; Torkyn believes Alyssa will not let him psychically link with her because she is angry over the interrupted proposal. It is revealed to Tor that he was an orphan of a fire which burnt down his house and killed his parents.
Tor travels to Tal alone and distraught over his lover's disappearance. On the way, he encounters a cripple named Cloot of the Rork'yel, being beaten in another village. He rescues Cloot and becomes close friends, at the same time befriending a young prostitute named Eryn, and Eryn and Torkyn have sexual intercourse. He also meets the Prime, the King's second-in-command, also in charge of the nation's security, whose name is Cyrus. Cyrus is suspicious of Tor, and learns of Tor's powers when Tor saves Cyrus from a band of ruffians, sworn to secrecy because of his gratitude. Tor on the way visits Tallinor's Great Forest, believed to be enchanted, and finds his way to the haven in the middle, the Heartwood. It is here Lys, a woman who has spoken to Cloot in dreams, transforms Cloot into a peregrine falcon. Cloot accompanies Torkyn through the rest of the journey to Tal, where he becomes popular quickly with King Lorys, Queen Nyria, and the royal court as a talented physic.
Alyssa and Sorrel make their way to Caremboche, a place where sentient women may flee the punishment of Inquisitors and spend their time archiving, among other passive crafts, for the good of Tallinor. A Caremboche woman, called Untouchable, must be a virgin and may not engage in any sexual or romantic relations. The punishment is execution for the woman and her lover. They pause at a town where a circus is being held. While at an inn, Alyssa is encountered alone by Goth, who makes unwanted advances towards Alyssa. Sorrel's appearance in the nick of time saves Alyssa, and Sorrel and Alyssa attend the circus. A performer, Saxon Fox, reveals himself to Alyssa as her protector, also having entertained Lys's presence in his dreams. Goth hates gypsies though, and razes the circus. In the chaos, she is misled to Goth, who proceeds to rape her. Saxon Fox emerges, and cuts off Goth's manhood, taking Alyssa back to Sorrel, who agrees to travel with the Foxes for a while.
Alyssa begins a romantic relationship with Saxon, however her romantic feelings are rejected by a man who would rather be her father figure, and they continue their journey towards Caremboche. As they arrive, Goth appears and Saxon's nephews, in love with Alyssa, die to defend her. In the process, Saxon is blinded. In despair, Alyssa stays at Caremboche and has archalyt, a type of stone, placed on her forehead to stop a flow of magic from either direction. Saxon and Sorrel stay on, and Alyssa begins to heal.
Years later, Merkhud deliberately sends Torkyn to attend the Caremboche festival, held periodically, instead of himself, after a falling out between Torkyn and Merkhud. The festival is steeped in centuries of superstition, and is celebrated by parades, dances, and feasting. Torkyn is not aware Alyssa is at Caremboche, having pushed her to the past as Alyssa has done him, yet Tor decides it is time to find his lover. He arrives at Caremboche and meets an arrestingly beautiful, if malicious, witch named Xantia, who is smitten with him. Xantia and Alyssa are enemies, starting over the position for Elder, and now over the affections of Torkyn Gynt. Alyssa at first is angry and distressed at Tor's arrival, however the two sort out their misunderstandings and reunite. Goth lurks nearby, however, and makes several attempts to attack Torkyn and Alyssa, both of whom he despises passionately. At the culmination of the festival, Tor and Alyssa narrowly escape Goth and teleport with Tor's power to the Heartwood, where they couple and are married by a priestess, Arabella. They live in peace with a wolf, Solyana, and Arabella, for nine months after Alyssa becomes pregnant, and has two children. Alyssa believes her son died, and her daughter is unknown to her, as close to dying, she became unconscious as Goth attacked the forest and took the two to Tal for punishment. Tor is sentenced and executed; Alyssa escapes it by Tor and Merkhud plotting to disguise it as seduction and not as an affair.
It is revealed through Alyssa's study that Caremboche was once razed by an angry god named Orlac, who was stolen when inadvertently let into the world of Tallinor, and in despair at his loss of birthright, avenged himself and was Quelled by the gods and a group of Paladin, ten magical beings, must guard his spirit and body in the spirit realms. Saxon and Cloot are Paladin; Merkhud and Sorrel are the earthly parents of Orlac, as they had adopted Orlac from the thieves.
Tor is duly executed, but Merkhud teaches him to Spirit his soul into Merkhud's body, and Merkhud takes Tor's death for him.
The book was praised, however did not receive as much attention as The Quickening series, also by Fiona McIntosh.
Fiona has delivered a traditional fantasy tale that has more guts and gusto than many that hold that claim. This is a pacey read. The potential with the Trinity series is high and expansive, I will be watching these books with great interest.