Book Cover
Rate this book

Ratings & Reviews for

Palace of Treason

5 stars
9,265 (41%)
4 stars
9,087 (40%)
3 stars
3,061 (13%)
2 stars
600 (2%)
1 star
181 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,484 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,607 reviews5,994 followers
September 17, 2015
I'm going to do a spoiler tag for info on the Book of the month club stuff, which is where I got this book.

I spent a whole lot of time reading this book and most of that time was spent confused. I really don't think it was completely the books fault. This is just not my cup of tea.

There is a ton of espionage storyline and I admit that much of it was totally over my head. There is double crossing and tons of Russian language. BUT there is a main character that I actually liked.

Captain Dominika Egorova, this woman does as she pleases. She works for the Russians or so they think. Turns out she gets fired up at them for destroying her country and becomes a mole for the CIA.

Chicago commercial photographers

Now get this..she is not your ordinary woman. She has the talent of being an synesthete. She can see people's aura's colors and judge their feelings from them.
Oh by the way..she is also trained as a "Sparrow", in the art of 'sexpionage'.
Chicago commercial photographers

She could hear the droning clinical lectures on human sexuality and love. She could see the jumpy, roiling films of coitus and perversion. The lists of sexual techniques, numbered in the hundreds, endlessly memorized and practiced- No. 88: "Butterfly wings"; No. 42, "String of Pearls"; No. 32, "the carpet tack"

We won't discuss how long I tried to figure out those techniques.

The verdict on the book for me was that I liked some parts of it and some parts I snoozed on. If you are interested in Cold War tactics, lots of Russian dialogue and a kick ass female..this could be your book.

And guess what? I'm giving my copy away. The first person (that lives in the US-sorry I can't afford shipping rates for other countries) that wants this book just let me know and I'll send it your way. spoken for :)

Chicago commercial photographers

For this book I'm choosing my friend Marilyn to spotlight. She was one of my very first goodreads friends and I trust her tastes in books completely. She did love this one so I honestly think it was just me on the two star thing. I steal a bunch of my TBR from her.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,822 reviews12.9k followers
June 11, 2018
Having taken the time to check out this interesting espionage series, I am intrigued to see where Jason Matthews intends on taking things with Nate and Dominika. He does not disappoint in this middle novel, the true ‘meat’ of the trilogy. After a harrowing end to the first novel, Dominika is back in Russia, working hard for the SVR and helping to run a discrete but highly important mission. Using a ‘Sparrow’ under her, Dominika is able to obtain top secret Iranian nuclear documents from a high-ranking official. With Iran’s sanctions and the Western attempt to nullify their nuclear program, Dominika could bring back information that would prove Russia is seeking to countermand the international order and facilitate an ongoing nuclear program in Iran. Her success brings Dominika into the inner circle and merits high praise from President Putin himself, who may have his eye on her for some of his own personal gifts. As covertly as she can, Dominika reaches out to CIA operative Nate Nash, now stationed in Athens, to deliver the information she has, in hopes of giving the Americans the proof they need that the sanctions are being violated right under their noses. Meeting in a neutral location, Dominika and Nash exchange news and set-up a ruse to ensure the CIA learns first-hand what is going on. However, that encounter ends disastrously and almost costs Dominika everything, though Nate is able to ascertain the long-range plan that Putin has with the Iranian Government. Trying to keep Dominika under cover and yet turn her into the next American mole, Nate must work day and night, risking everything, while also trying to downplay his emotional connection to this SVR agent. Sparks turn to a raging fire between them, leaving both Nate and Dominika unable to define what is going on between them, while violating CIA orders with each passing second. Wanting to keep Dominika inside Russia but still able to report, Nate organises a handler to be providing the needed link to the Agency. Nate helps train Hannah Archer, whose wiles appear to match those of Dominika in almost every way. Sure that his encounters with Dominika will become report analysis only, Nate allows himself to fall into the clutches of this woman, though the thought of his beloved SVR agent remains front and centre in his brain. When the Russians eventually learn of a new mole, they scour their entire intelligence apparatus, sure that the weak link will surface in enough time for another brutal final solution. With Dominika still in good standing with President Putin, she can only hope that her truth has not been revealed and that he is not toying with her. Nate will do anything he can to protect her, both as an agent and because of their connection. However, sometimes it is better to cut one’s losses, especially when the Russians are on the other side. Another brilliant novel that furthers the complex espionage that Matthews has come to make all his own. A trilogy that continues to impress many, especially those who love a traditional novel of spy games. Highly recommended to those with the patience and interest in deep-rooted spy novels, à la John Le Carré!

I admit that I started this trilogy because of all the hype it was getting online and stuck with the first novel, which began slowly. I had to remind myself that I am not one who normally reads well-crafted spy novels, which seek to forego the superficial banter and develop over time, enriching the reading experience. This novel picks up the impact from the opening pages, pushing me to immerse myself in all the action without a chance to breathe. Nate Nash and Dominika Egorova may come from different spheres but their dedication cannot be discounted. Matthews does well again, showing that Nash’s love of country can sometimes be clouded when blood rushes from his brain to other extremities, though he would surely call it part of the mission. Matthews adds the complexities of Nash’s inability to treat Dominika simply as a mole and someone who is going to help bring Putin and Russia to their knees, but that might be one of the greater aspects of his character throughout this piece. Dominika’s secret synesthesia becomes a central part of her character and is used throughout the narrative quite effectively, especially to allow the reader to better understand the emotional banter taking place in a realm (espionage) where the players are encouraged to remain beige. Dominika’s struggle both to stay alive and to resurrect her ‘Sparrow’ persona proves central to the story’s advancement, particularly when Putin is sometimes one of her escapades. Bone-chilling does not begin to describe this sub-plot. Matthews personalises the story effectively with his own experiences within the CIA, pulling me deeper into the narrative and wondering what might come next. The reader can dine on a methodical understanding of the world of espionage with results dependent on the risks undertaken. Extensive mention of cultural dishes throughout the piece is complemented by Matthew’s addition of basic recipes embedded at the end of each chapter. Lighter fare in a novel full of dark plot development. I cannot wait to get my hands on the final novel to see where it takes the story and how Matthews hopes to tie it all together.

Kudos, Mr. Matthews, for another stellar novel. This series has won me over and I hope to spread the word to anyone who will listen.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 9 books408 followers
May 29, 2022
In this sequel to “Red Sparrow” Dominica is back in Mother Russia, trying to keep her head above water, spying for the Americans, while Nate Nash, her handler and former lover has no idea what has become of her. A new source is developed for the Russians, and suddenly, both Russian intelligence and the CIA are clambering to get their hands on the information about a secret nuclear program in the making.

This series is so amazingly written. The details and depth of knowledge in the spy craft is just top notch. You never doubt for a second that you are RIGHT THERE, making the drop, meeting the double agent... it’s impossible to put down. And of course, the romance between Nate and Dominica is this beautiful, tortured, dark Russian thing. Are they doomed? Maybe. But you can’t help but hope for these two.

Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews533 followers
February 4, 2019
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

This book follows the first in the series, Red Sparrow, which was a superbly realistic, fast paced thriller of U.S./Russia espionage, outstanding for a debut. Unfortunately here, overshadowing a somewhat intriguing and suspenseful plot is the author's adoption of highly annoying and lazy literary crutches, apparently for the sake of expedience.

#1: The talking ghosts of dead former associates (a gaggle of 3 now) who follow and talk to the U.S.'s female Russian counter-spy Dominika Egorova, so instead of having conflicting inner thoughts these former people in her life are there to offer advice on the spot. I know, it sounds ridiculous. It worked when it was her mother and she very briefly appeared twice as an apparition. Now, Matthews' use of this device is an insult to intelligent and literary readers.

#2: #1 is not nearly as tiresome or overused though as Matthews' utilization of Egorova's ability to see hues of colors glowing around a potential adversary's head as a sort of on-the-spot lie detector (e.g., "swirling, warm purple" [honesty], "pulsating blue" [intelligence] and so forth). The use of this as a literary shortcut can be felicitous at 1, 2, maybe 3 key points in a novel. Using it every several pages vexes the reader and makes the writer appear either condescending or indolent.

I am giving up on this series. The editor's refusal to reign in such bullshit lets me know that he/she believes Matthews' readers to be idiots. I'm not going to waste further time or money.

Profile Image for Skip.
3,351 reviews414 followers
January 25, 2016
An excellent sequel to Red Sparrow by CIA insider Jason Matthews. Russian spy Dominika Egarova is back at work in Moscow working for the CIA's Nate Nash, working to undermine the usurper, Putin. Meanwhile, there are moles in both countries trying to out the opposition's assets as well as thwart Iran's desire to build nuclear weapons. The biggest battle is between Egarova and her psychotic boss, who has worked his way up from being a torture specialist at Lubyanka prison. Good and mounting suspense, with authentic feel to it. 4.5 stars.

I forgot to mention that Matthews continued his signature of ending every chapter with a recipe as there is eating in each chapter. Central and Eastern European or Russian fare mostly.
Profile Image for Scott.
448 reviews54 followers
August 19, 2018
“Palace of Treason” is the second book in the highly regarded Red Sparrow spy and espionage trilogy by Jason Matthews, a retired officer of the CIA’s Operations Directorate. He completed the trilogy earlier this year along with the release of the first one as a major Hollywood movie with Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton in the lead roles. I read the first book about a month or so ago, letting it linger in my memory until I was ready to jump back in with my full attention. Let me say, the first book was so incredibly good that I worried my expectations might be too high for the second… Thank God I was so wrong.

“Palace of Treason” picks up several months following the previous book, with Captain Dominika Egorova returning to Russia and the Russian Intelligence Services (SVR) shaken up by personal loss. Whether or not she will spy for the Americans anymore is up in the air. Dominika is faced with new challenges including the extra attention she is gaining from Russian President Putin and various political members of his cabinet. Even more dangerous is her new line boss, Colonel Alexei Zyuganov, an evil man trying to climb the Kremlin chain of power. He views Dominika as competition, keeping him from reaching his goals. Because of that, Zyuganov sees no problem in having Dominika assassinated and works to perfect his plan.

While Dominika fights through her challenges, Nate Nash, her love and CIA handler, is also dealing with his own. He is assigned another mole. This time it’s an angry old Russian general who doesn’t like the new Putin leadership and wants to share all that he can, but only on his terms. As much as Nate wants to help his reckless undercover agent, getting caught and tortured seems more likely. Nate has also been assigned a new agent to train – Hannah Archer - who will serve as Dominika’s communications contact inside of Russia. Hannah is a talented and gifted agent who grows close to both Nate and Dominika as she is tasked with keeping the mole safe.

Further complicating matters is a certain high-level member of the United States government who does not get the Director level position he was fully counting on and decides selling secrets to the Russians for money will provide himself with absolution. Not only does he contact a high-level Russian diplomat, start sharing key information, but he is also willing to search for the list of moles serving the U.S. government and reveal Dominika’s secret to her bosses.

Matthews does an incredibly good job of taking all of the characters, plotting, and locations and putting them together in a tapestry of success. Like the first book, he exudes the style and feeling of a great John Le Carre spy thriller. It has the descriptive international flavor and sense of the classic Ian Fleming. And it has the crisp beauty of flawless storytelling that I often compare to John Grisham. However, this is no semi-clean Grisham-esque story. It is a George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones view of the underbelly of real world government and back-street politics in the new cold war era. It is raw, violent, sensuous, provocative, and full of intellectual gamesmanship.

The story of Dominika Egorova and National Nash continues to develop and grow in this second book. They are both field intelligence officers. Both trained in their own respective spy schools to outwit the enemy. And both carrying personal baggage that will forcefully influence their decisions and loyalties – to both their countries and to themselves. In the end, their passion for each other is second only to their commitment towards making the world a better place for the common good.

This was an excellent read. It was just a little less exciting than the first book, but still one of the best thrillers I have enjoyed reading in a long time. That’s saying a lot because I have read several well written suspense novels over the last several years. This easily belongs at the top of that list. This is the kind of book where you stay up late and skip whatever you had planned to just escape with an excellent book. I can’t remember having this tingling feeling since reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and becoming acquainted with Lisbeth Salander, one of the most unique literary characters ever created. And yes, this was that kind of book!

What makes this book so awesome? Just like the first one, it comes down to Matthews ability to: (1) create 4-dimensional (yes, I said 4 not 3) characters that in-bed themselves in your mind and your heart, (2) develop a complex and intricate plotline that was fluid, constantly moving with snappy dialog and action, and full of gut-check surprises along the way, and (3) ability to use his unique background and experience as an ex-CIA agent to tell a spy story in a special way that makes you feel like you are there and intimately involved with Dominika and Nash’s story.

Overall, this book is as awesome as the first one. Absolutely worthy of a 5-star rating. It was so good that I found myself continually re-reading paragraphs and certain parts twice because I was so immersed in the moment. I will rest for a month and let this linger in my mind, but then I cannot wait to start reading the third and last book in the trilogy – “The Kremlin’s Candidate”. I have heard some unsettling things about the third book, but I hope it lives up to the first two…

Profile Image for LA Cantrell.
424 reviews554 followers
June 11, 2018
Who doesn't want the skinny on what makes Putin tick? This commercial spy novel is excellent in its touch on contemporary issues. I was reading a section one evening where the US had convinced an Iranian physicist to leak important details about a new and vastly superior centrifuge system which would speed up production of uranium enrichment. They used blackmail to hasten his decision-making along, and that technique along with others in the preceding novel in the trilogy seemed extremely believable.

The following morning, as I was starting my 1st cup of coffee I read the headlines. It was all about the acceleration of uranium enrichment by Iranian labs! Now, before we give the writer points for being so prescient, it turns out this writer knows his stuff intimately.

The author, if you did not know it, spent three decades as a CIA operative and actually was responsible for recruiting foreign agents.

While I found the espionage aspect and detailed technical issues that were discussed probably as good as anything Tom Clancy clicked out, the writer knows his audience well. This is commercial fiction and so includes some sex scenes, a love interest, some cop humor, auras, etc. Just so we know that the author does not take himself too seriously, he ends every single chapter up with a recipe for one of the food items which made its appearance in the preceding pages. Clever guy.

This second novel in the trilogy is a worthwhile beach book if I've ever read one. It ain't Shakespeare but a very fun spy thriller!
Profile Image for kartik narayanan.
740 reviews206 followers
March 15, 2018
Read the review of the Red Sparrow Trilogy at my blog

I had a blast reading Palace of Treason. It has everything you need from a spy thriller - sex, violence, mind games and betrayals; with the same authenticity as Red Sparrow.

There is a main plot but it is for name's sake. It takes back seat to the shenanigans of the returning characters from Red Sparrow - Dominika, Nate, Benford, Zyuganov etc. And Putin plays a bigger part in this story. This cast of characters is excellent and every one of them is well developed.

The key takeaway for me, though, is its humour. This book is full of it. It is irreverent, dark and crude or highbrow as the situation demands. And this is what makes Palace of Treason better than Red Sparrow, since it does not take itself so seriously.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,118 followers
March 25, 2018
This book wasn't as satisfying as Red Sparrow, and probably partly because of the audio format, I was ready for it to be over before it was.

The good parts - Putin as a character is fantastic and complex and probably the best part of the novel. As Domenika finds success in uncovering traitors, she gets pulled closer into his circle at the same time that someone is trying to uncover her double work.

I really like the auras and ghosts, although it's a bit uneven because Domenika seems to be the only person benefitting from them, and she explains them to Nate as something Russians just have as part of their world. Were that true, I would expect Putin to catch her instantly.

There are some stereotypical characters even within Matthews' own world. The short ugly evil guy. The sociopathic female killing machine. These are duplicated and reused in ways I found redundant and unnecessary.

The recipe thing feels even more forced in this book, where the only sensory detail in an entire chapter is a random dish and you just know it's going to show up at the end of the chapter. I just am not sure it works.

The spy landscape is complex, and nobody is safe. I like the moments when people go back to earlier, non-technological training because information has failed.
288 reviews
August 9, 2015
Is it possible that the author just described a person with dark skin as like an orangutan? I must have misread that - it couldn't be right. And that the character representing the purest of evil is a "dwarf," referred to throughout the book as "the dwarf"?

I stopped about a third of the way through this novel, disgusted with the stereotypes such as the ones above, and annoyed with the simplistic "Americans good" "Russians bad" formula. Additionally, the character development, which had been relatively decent in Red Sparrow, was terrible, and I didn't believe in any of the characters, especially Nate. I didn't get far enough into the book to comment on the plot, but it definitely didn't hold my attention.

Nuance is one of the keys to good literature, I think -- and the reliance on prejudicial stereotypes in this book, as well as its lack of subtlety, overwhelmed any curiosity about what was going to happen next.

Profile Image for Otis Chandler.
392 reviews114k followers
August 10, 2018
Another fast paced thriller that I couldn’t put down. Matthews takes the story of Nate and Dominika even further and to places I couldn’t have predicted. As with the first Red Sparrow, book two feels like an insight into what spy craft must really be like.

I found it very interesting to learn more about the types of reasons that traitors justify their treason. There were people like LYRIC who loves his country but thinks those running it deserve to fall. People like TRITON who are frustrated with their own lack of success and want the money. People who are blackmailed into it. And then there is DIVA, who is sort of like TRITON except she’s also doing it for love.

The descriptions of Putin felt realistic and terrifying. The book really plays him up as a greedy, conniving president who as a former KGB agent and former FSB (what the KGB became after the cold war) Director deeply understands and is very active with the espionage strategies. Given that background, that feels likely, which is fascinating to think about in light of the Russia hacking issues going on today.
Profile Image for Steven Z..
598 reviews122 followers
June 19, 2015
For those who enjoyed Jason Matthew’s first espionage thriller, RED SPARROW, his second venture in this genre is as exceptional as the first. Matthews, a veteran of thirty three years in the CIA as a Chief of Station, a clandestine operative collecting national intelligence, a recruiter in many dangerous regions of the world, and many other roles has overcome the problem of following a successful first novel, with a second, PALACE OF TREASON, that in many ways is more interesting and presented in greater depth than the first. Many of the characters of RED SPARROW reappear; Simon Benford, a CIA veteran who controls all counter intelligence operations; Nathaniel Nash, the CIA covert operative and his Chief of Station Tom Forsythe, and his deputy Marty Gable; Dominika Egorova, a Russian trained “sparrow,” one who excels in the martial and sexual arts, and is a synesthete, a talent that allows a person to see auras around a person’s head that “allow them to read their passion, treachery, fear or deception;” Alexei Zyuganov, the Chief of Russian Counter Intelligence, Department of Service Line KR, a psychotic sadist who is jealous of Egorova; and Vladimir Putin, who plays a much larger role in PALACE OF TREASON.

There are many new characters in Matthews’ latest effort and they enhance the plot line and evolve as principle players as the story unfolds. We are presented with a new handler for Dominika, a rookie agent, Hannah Archer who is exceptional in her spy craft, but also becomes part of an interesting love triangle; and Yevgeny Pletnev, a deputy to Zyuganov who succumbs to the wiles of a red sparrow. The novel begins with the recruitment of Parvis Jamshidi, an Iranian physicist and expert in centrifugal isotope separation. Both the CIA and Russian SVR are interested in him and learn greater details of Iran’s nuclear program. For Russia it is seen as an opportunity for Putin’s kleptocracy to assist the Iranian program as a means of getting back at the United States, and as a bonus siphon off millions of rubles from any transaction. For the United States, a plan is instituted to sabotage a German W. Petrs seismic isolation floor that would cause a major explosion, thus setting back the Iranian goal of acquiring nuclear weapons by at least five years. In developing this story, Matthews employs a major secondary plot involving a disgruntled CIA bureaucrat, Sebastian Angevine, an Assistant Deputy for Military Affairs who is passed over for a major promotion, who believes in a lifestyle that his government salary will not support. Angevine takes the initiative in becoming TRITON, a Russian operative who is a threat to the Iranian operation and Dominika, who is imbedded inside the Kremlin as an American agent.

Matthews’ expertise in spy craft is without question. His details of surveillance and counter surveillance techniques are remarkable in their intricacy and realism. Through the experiences of Hannah Archer, Matthews provides an amazing description of how an operative is trained in surveillance techniques that no other author has attempted. The reader feels as if they are in the “cross hairs” of an operative trying to remain “black” and away from their pursuers. He takes the reader through the streets of Moscow, Washington, and Athens as operatives try to meet and practice their tradecraft. Through the eyes of Sebastien Angevine we see an individual on the “inside” of the CIA try to develop a strategy to offer themselves to Moscow. Angevine, a former NCIS polygrapher is fully cognizant of the approaches made by Pollard, Ames, Hanssen, and Walker, and how they became sloppy and were exposed. He develops sophisticated techniques to avoid their mistakes and will become a very effective mole. An underlying theme that Matthews pursues is the evolution of CIA and SVR espionage practices. Especially interesting are the changes in interrogation techniques employed by the Russian SVR as compared to old KGB practices. Matthews provides details of how the new SVR goes about its craft, and contrasts it with KGB methods. The reader is provided a unique window into spy tradecraft as it has changed from a lesser technological Cold War era, to the enhanced technological sophistication of today. The “Putinization” of Russian intelligence is very clear, as all operatives fear making a mistake that could embarrass the Russian President and the consequences for their careers and probably their lives.

If you think you might be interested in a novel that presents chilling scenes that feature a psychotic torturer/executioner and his protégé, two agents deeply in love separated by the deep cover of their respective intelligence services, a megalomaniac who is hell bent in restoring his nation to the preeminent position it held over two decades ago, bureaucratic incompetence at its worst, modern spy craft and the application of its many techniques, and a well written and well thought plot, then PALACE OF TREASON is for you. The narrative will keep you interested until the last paragraph and I won’t let you in on the ending, but parts of it may not be that farfetched.
Profile Image for MARILYN.
153 reviews77 followers
June 11, 2015
Two years ago I named Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews my favorite book of the year. I am naming Palace of Treason my favorite book of this year. As much as I loved RS I love PoT even more. Lots of sex, violence, gore and characters that you care about. I highly recommend to anyone who loves a great spy vs spy novel but you absolutely have to read Red Sparrow first . 5 Stars
Profile Image for Alex Cantone.
Author 3 books35 followers
February 19, 2022
The moon over Hymettus was blood orange from the pall of urban exhaust over the city, even after midnight. Everyone had left the safe house, staggered their departures, vectoring away in different directions to avoid contaminating TULIP in the unlikely event they were spotted by hostile surveillance - Russian security, Greek cops, Hezbollah scouts trolling for trouble. Athens was a dangerous, mixed-up city: part Balkan, part Mediterranean, part Beirut.

Forget the movie. After reading (and enjoying) the first book in the Red Sparrow trilogy last year – which I described as a Romeo and Juliette in fur hats – SVR plant Dominika Egorova seducing CIA operative Nate Nash in Helsinki, to get him to reveal the identity of a mole in Moscow.

Palace of Treason opens in Paris, a year on from the events of the first book and Dominika (codenamed DIVA as a CIA mole), working for the SVR, uses her charms to compromise an Iranian nuclear scientist to get him to reveal details of the uranium enrichment program. She is under constant suspicion of counterintelligence chief, Alexei Zyuganov, a paranoid and psychotic dwarf who tried, without success, to despatch her in the first book.

The other bookend in the story, Nate Nash, is working out of Athens Station, under Forsyth and Gable who were with him in Helsinki Station. He has a new “recruit” in a disaffected Russian general, codenamed LYRIC, who delivers classified military information but proves difficult to handle. Nate worries that his cover is blown when scant details appear in reports out of Washington.

LYRIC waved has hand dismissively. “Kto sluzhit v armii ne smeyetsya v tsirke, he who has served in the army does not laugh at the circus. I am too familiar with the clowns in the counterintelligence staff at GRU. They could not catch a tethered goat.” LYRIC rakishly blew smoke up into the night air.
“What about FSB or SVR?’ said Nate.

While DIVA and LYRIC are driven by noble ideals, revering their country but despising the corruption that festers within the current administration, the self-styled TRITON, a Washington career diplomat overlooked for promotion, has only self-interest and his bank balance in mind when he sells information to the rezident at the Russian embassy.

Naturally, Dominika’s and Nate’s paths (and other bits) cross again and again, as they head towards a showdown with TRITON. Not giving away any more of the story, except for the spiritual/mystical aspect: from a small child Erogova has been able to read people’s auras – black for evil, yellow for greed, etc, and she sees the spirits of her late mother and other “Sparrows” – prostitutes in the country’s service who met untimely deaths and help to guard her. She needs a lot of guarding, while keeping Putin, an unwitting “accomplice” to her role, onside.

Verdict: With over 30 years experience in the CIA, I was looking forward to the second book in the trilogy by author Jason Matthews and was not disappointed. I rank it among the best espionage thrillers I have read.
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,282 reviews263 followers
December 7, 2020
Nate and Dominika are back along with old and new friends and foes. If you read Red Sparrow you will appreciate that author Jason Matthews continues to captivate readers as American and Russian spooks play their spy games.
Games that come with a deadly price if you lose. This time an Iranian nuclear supply deal hangs in the balance and maybe the Americans can leave a calling card. Dominika delivers the goods on the deal. Driven by power and greed Dominika's psychopathic chief intends to destroy her as Putin pulls her into his inner circle of cronies, and an American mole prepares to reveal her true identity. Can Nate and his team protect their most valuable asset as she tries to survive this Palace of Treason?
-Amy O.
Profile Image for Lucy.
149 reviews
August 6, 2017
If Red Sparrow was gripping then I've no words to describe Palace of Treason. What I'm sure of is that it was indeed an emotional roller coaster.
Packed with action, violence and sex, the book is detailed and realistic and I'm fascinated by the espionage world and how much Matthews knows and probably has gone through himself.
I'm really looking forward to the final installment, although saying goodbye to Dominika will be extremelly hard, as I've grown to love her very much.
103 reviews1 follower
June 11, 2015
I was disappointed in this book. It is nowhere near as compelling as Red Sparrow, which I liked a lot. There are too many characters to keep up with and too many inane situations. The continuous confrontations are infantile. Also, Mr. Matthews seems to believe that everyone who is short of stature is evil, while those who are tall and beautiful are our saviors. Enough with the stereotypes PLEASE.
Profile Image for Hera Barton.
253 reviews14 followers
April 25, 2015
This novel was addictive.

It lacks the soul-crushing insights that I have come to associate with spy novels that are written by former spies, but what Matthews doesn't share emotionally he makes up for with a broad view of life in Counterintelligence.

A completely unique addition to the chapters of this book are recipes for the various things the characters eat throughout the book. It adds an extra cultural layer to the background by really giving you an idea of what a room would smell like if you were eating Shirini Keshmeshi cakes with Russian politicians.

There's plenty of danger and bloody endings, but there's also the banality of life at a desk. And of course there's the casual misogyny:

Hannah wore a pearl gray suit and black heels (the look was too old for her, thought Nate, she should wear something more casual)

And there are many, many, many members of the Agency who are in no way loyal. There are little betrayals, and some big ones. There is a clear view of how detached the agents in the upper levels become.

Here are our main players:

Dominika, the Russian double agent. She's jaded and hot-headed and a really enjoyable protagonist. She's a former Sparrow: a woman trained in sexual espionage, something which Matthews writes well. There's a lot of sex in this book but it's balanced with how the training shaped her--and how she chooses to shape herself in order to cope with what she was made to do.

She's a synesthest, which manifests for her as her intuition placing colored "auras" around people. She's certainly not clairvoyant, and as unusual as this character quirk is, it never feels hokey or like an unfair 'cheat' for the character. Besides, she doesn't need super powers. If you fuck with her, she will literally cut your throat with a steak knife and kick you while you die.

Nate, her American CIA handling officer. Poor guy (sarcasm). He's got spycraft down but he can't seem to get a handle on his loneliness. As a result he falls in love easily and can't prioritize anything over the needs of his cock, even if that means his lovers end up in danger. So basically he's a mellow, more real-world version of James Bond, except Bond was smart enough a) not to get attached and b) to at least try to limit his affairs to women he didn't have to deal with every single day at the office. And unlike Bond, Nate does get in trouble for his stupidity:

Marty Gable had asked him to reserve some time for a protracted counseling session when Nate returned to Station to discuss his lack of professionalism, his disregarding instructions, and, in Gable's words, his being "a dumbassador from the Republic of Stupid".

Hannah, the liaison between CIA and Dominika, and possibly my favorite character in the book. Also her name is Hannah Archer. Agent Archer. She obviously was born to be a spy.

Zyuganov, who is a total psychopath and who longs for the golden days of the KGB. Except he'd prefer there be fewer regulations.

And Vladimir Putin. If you don't know who that is, uhm. You need to read up on some current events. (It surprised me how much as I enjoyed Matthews' handling of Putin. Some if it tilts toward villain-twirling-a-mustache territory but sometimes he's attractive and kind of terrifying, with or without the author's bias.)

The plot itself is full of setbacks and dark twists and a whole lot of backstabbing, which is just how I like it. Just when you think it's going to be too easy it bites you in the ass, and the plot feels free of loose ends but never loses tension.

And oh yeah. This book made me cry. A book hasn't made me cry in years.
Profile Image for Jennifer Rayment.
1,285 reviews53 followers
June 25, 2015
The Good Stuff

Author obviously knows his stuff, you can really tell he lived some of this life. Very authentic
Dominka is a hugely intriguing and likeable character - quite the feisty little thing (she kinda overshadows Nate)
One of my favorite thing about this series is the secondary characters
Edge of your seat action throughout most of the story
Enjoy the recipes, but kinda wish they were written out in full, I NEED to make them
My love for Marty Gable has no ends, he is utterly delightful and gets some of the best lines
Does a fabulous job of setting the mood of a scene
Interesting historical information about Russia and the United States and their various intelligence offices
I eagerly await the next installment of this smart and sexy spy saga - and now off to the store to find some ingredients
Did I mention how much I love Gable
Great realistic relationships between many of the characters
Excels at dialogue between major characters
Villains are so despicable, you are on the edge of your seat waiting for them to get their just desserts
I would love to sit down with Mr. Matthews to listen to him tell tales of some of the real life stories that inspired his fiction

The Not So Good Stuff

Ummm when did I miss that Dominika's mother died. Could be me, I was moving while I was reading this, so it could have been something I missed.
A wee bit repetitive at times and tad sexist at times (which doesn't fit with the main female character)
I feel very hungry after each and every chapter

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Gable put the photo down "Handsome looking bunch. You're adopted then, or what, forceps delivery?"

"And after five meetings, despite the grandmotherly exterior the imaginative Angevine saw the ancient Soviet venom or show trial and gulag, of politburo and mass graves in birch forests."

"..and his Athens DCOS Marty Gable has asked him to reserve some time for a protracted counseling session when Nate returned to Station to discuss his lack of professionalism, his disregarding instructions, and, in Gable's words, his being 'a dumbassador from the Republic of stupid."

4 Dewey's

I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,376 reviews931 followers
April 19, 2018
“Dvorets v Izmene,” said Dominika under her breath.
Benford looked over at Nate, one eyebrow raised.
“Palace of Treason,” Nate said.
“Works for me,” said Gable.”

Palace of Treason, the thrilling follow up to Red Sparrow, places Captain Dominika Egorova in a place both advantageous and dangerous. She’s in a position of great importance within Moscow and is able to provide vital intelligence to the CIA, however, she isn’t beloved by all and a few alarming individuals suspect her of wrongdoing. To make matters even more precarious, she’s caught the eye of the Russian president and one misstep will destroy everything she’s worked for.

Matthews continues to excel at the multitude of characters in these stories that all manage to be meticulously described without becoming excessive. The storyteller’s tendency to fall back on stereotypes, primarily when it comes to the Russians, is a bit of a low point. The lack of depth and distinction, fortunately, didn’t take away from the strength of the plot itself. Egorova fights throughout the story to keep her cover and to quietly take out anyone who could destroy it. She survives through so many assassination attempts that it was both incredible and unbelievable, but then again, she trained for years to survive this kind of life. She’s a woman on a mission, intent on getting payback for what she was forced to do for so many years in the name of Russia, but the one thing that she seems to be willing to risk it all for is love. A bit of a contradiction, but much like the seemingly odd inclusion of recipes at the end of each chapter, it still manages to work out nicely.

“You remember what I told you both in Vienna?” […] “That someday you’re gonna have to make a decision that’ll make you taste your stomach behind your teeth, but you got no choice, and maybe it even means hurting someone you respect and trust. Well, it happened today and it’ll happen again tomorrow, and the next day.”

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Keri.
1,347 reviews37 followers
June 11, 2017

DNF at about 25%

I really enjoyed the first book and was looking forward to this one as well. As you can probably tell by my DNF, book 2 was a fail for me.

What were the problems?


Well, in book 1, there was a lot of politics that was kind of beyond me, or at least that I kind of zoned out of, but it wasn't so much that I couldn't follow the story and I still enjoyed it. This one was even worse. I was drowning in politics and I lost interest in what was going on. That was the beginning of the issues I had.

The biggest issue I had? In the first book, CIA spy Nate & SVR spy Dominika began a relationship while working together. That was fine. They didn't get to see each other very much because of the distance and their secretive roles, but it was made evident to the reader that they had very strong feelings for each other. All of this was fine because it was a side note within the spy story. In this book, what I believed to be an adult spy thriller, revealed itself to actually be a young adult love triangle angsty drama. And at this point I WAS DONE.

Profile Image for Michael Martz.
889 reviews23 followers
July 13, 2015
Red Sparrow was a great debut for Jason Matthews, and Palace of Treason is even better. It's well-written, fast-paced, and the 'tradecraft' descriptions are fabulous. As a long-time spy novel aficionado, I've not been this excited about a new writer in the genre since I don't know when. Matthews is excellent and I cannot wait for the next installment in his series.

Although there's an incredible amount of action in this story, the characters are so well developed that it's not challenging to keep up. The plot, which involves most of the players on the US side introduced in the Red Sparrow book and various Russian nasties (including Putin in a more-than-a-cameo role), is intricate, as are the numerous sub-plots, political, personal, and espionage-related, encountered along the way. The dialogue is crisp and believable, and the fast pace of the action was matched with excellent writing.

I'd give 'Palace of Treason' 6 stars if I could, and that's even with docking it one since I have a little issue with the whole 'aura' thing, which to me veers into gimmick territory. This is the rare novel that I didn't want to end, even though the conclusion was very satisfactory and believable.
Profile Image for Lee Mills.
12 reviews
June 18, 2015
I loved Red Sparrow, but I REALLY loved Palace of Treason! From the first page the book took me on a roller coaster ride, and I was so sad when it was over. Great character development and the twists and turns could only have been written by someone who has been there. I look forward to the next installment.
197 reviews
August 12, 2020
This is an excellent follow-up to a great book. Most sequels are duds but not this one. The characters are very interesting (even the dead spirits). Even Vladimir Putin gets a star turn as a key villain. The twisted relationships are very interesting. The love story between Dominika Egorova and Nathaniel Nash grows and matures and starts to have growing pains. Jason Matthews’s prose is also excellent. This book and Red Sparrow (the first book in the series) should be required reading on how to write quality thrillers.
Profile Image for Nick Brett.
957 reviews57 followers
May 5, 2020
So, I Read the previous book “Red Sparrow” and thought it was okay but was immensely irritated by the author’s vanity project of including recipes at the end of each chapter.
Anyway, I picked up Palace of Treason by mistake, I really wasn’t going to bother with the series but somehow I recognised it as an author I knew and a book I hadn’t read so I just got it. And it has sat there for about five years daring me to read it and I’d ignored it until this pandemic pushed me towards reading books I have been putting off.

Not to be read without reading the first book. Dominika is now back with Russian intelligence and decides to once again help the CIA, becoming their best placed mole. While avoiding being discovered she must help foil a Russian plan to support a secret Iranian nuclear programme. As she gets closer to Putin and his plans her risk becomes greater, especially when a Russian spy in the CIA discovers who she is.

I have to confess I thought it was a really good spy thriller and one I enjoyed far more than I thought I would. Clever plotting and deft pacing make this really work. A very well written spy thriller. But. He’s done it again with those recipes. Again this really detracted from getting fully immersed in the story (which is the whole point of the book!). So you might get a tense scene where there is a clandestine meeting. You “know” that food will be served during the meeting and you almost tense up waiting for it, and then of course the recipe is provided at the end of the chapter. Incredibly irritating and definitely reduced the enjoyment of a book I would have otherwise rated higher.
Profile Image for RoseMary Achey.
1,374 reviews
June 26, 2015
If you are looking for a great contemporary spy novel Palace of Treason will fit the bill! A beautiful female Soviet spy is turned by the CIA and begins the dangerous job of reporting on Soviet/Iran nuclear plans. Very timely!
Profile Image for Peter.
1,145 reviews36 followers
June 16, 2015
The Palace of Treason ( 2015) [named for the Kremlin] is Jason Matthews’ second novel, following his very successful Red Sparrow (2014, see review). Matthews is a retired CIA station chief and his exceptional knowledge of the espionage culture and of tradecraft makes his books remarkably credible and educational. This spy thriller is long for the genre—almost 500 pages—but it rolls along well.

Dominika Egorova is a Captain in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). The protagonist in Red Sparrow, Dominka is a former ballerina and an erstwhile staunch advocate of all things Russian, who trained first as a Sparrow (an SVR seductress) then was promoted to operations. She also has an unusual ability called synesthesia: she sees color-coded auras around people reflecting their character—red for passion, yellow for deceit, black for anger, purple for commitment and dedication, blue for reliability and control: very helpful for a spy—or for anyone but a hermit. She also has a proclivity for necromancy—talking with the dead.

Dominika has established her credibility as an SVR agent able to deliver the goods, and she is even developing a relationship with Vladimir Putin (blue aura—control) to do some special work. That relationship infuriates her nemesis and boss, Alexei Zyuganov, the dwarfish SVR chief of counterintelligence. Zyuganov is a homicidal maniac (deep black aura) devoted to torturing inmates in the bowels of Lefortovo prison. Zyuganov wants to be the bride at Putin’s wedding and the corpse at Putin’s funeral, so he plots to get Dominika out of the way.

In Red Sparrow Dominika fell in love with Nate Nash (purple aura—commitment and reliability mixed with passion), a CIA agent attached to the American Embassy in Moscow, who turned her to a double agent (codename: DIVA). The location is Vienna (shades of The Third Man) and Dominika’s co-conspirator is her very own Nate Nash. We open with Dominika shadowing an Iranian nuclear scientist. A Russian Sparrow has softened up the scientist, the phrase used is that the “bald man wearing a turtleneck cleans the sparrow’s chimney.” The Iranian has decidedly un-Islamic proclivities—he eats pork, drinks alcohol, doesn’t pray five times a day, and consorts with women of easy virtue. He is now ready for blackmail, to be turned into an SVR asset and thus, indirectly, a CIA asset. Now that the Iranian is hooked, Dominika will reel him in to get information about Iran’s nuclear plans.

The general suspicion is that the Iranians are engaged in secret uranium purification for a nuclear bomb (I am astonished that there could be such duplicity!). If true, the CIA wants to stop the project but Russia (i.e., Putin) wants to lever the information into a commercial deal that will be profitable to him and his cronies. Both sides need to know Iran’s intent and current status, but for entirely different reasons. Putin’s character is summarized in the following joke:
Stalin is in Hell when the devil comes to him and says that Russia is in trouble and needs his steadying hand to restore order and continue the war against goodness. If Stalin agrees, he will be returned alive to Moscow. Stalin thinks about the offer and responds, “OK. But this time no Mr. Nice Guy!”

As one expects, Dominika and her Sparrow get the scientist over his resistance to treason. The Iranians do have a secret facility (whatever happened to trust?)—a huge underground warehouse is under construction to hold 700 giant centrifuges precisely synchronized to refine uranium ore to weapons-grade. But before the scientist can be of further assistance he and his Sparrow are brutally murdered by parties unknown—either Iranian or Russian. The real thriller has begun.

Matthews’ forté is his description of tradecraft—the art of losing multiple tails, of sensing moments of danger, of noticing everything, and of placing or retrieving messages. Nate and Dominika are masters, as is Hannah Archer, a newly minted CIA agent who is assigned to work with Nate as DIVA’s contact. Hannah is completely dedicated to protecting Dominika, an early-warning sign that Hannah will have an early exit. Their primary mission is to expedite a plan to disrupt the Iranian centrifuges by sabotaging the specialized floor the centrifuges will be on; if successful, the room of centrifuges will implode after it goes on line.

So we have the jealous and brutal Zyagunov looking for any way he can destroy Dominika, not understanding how fragile her position really is; Oh! How happy he would be to learn that she is DIVA! We have Nate, Hannah and the CIA trying to support DIVA, not knowing that she is in Zygunov’s sights. We have Nate plowing the furrows of both Dominika’s and Hannah’s fields (an offset to Dominica screwing one of Zygunov’s underlings for a good cause: information). Meanwhile, Putin is using everyone to support the Iranian nuclear program because it enriches him. And to top it off, we have a disgruntled senior CIA official (codename: TRITON) turning traitor to punish the Company for failure to promote. Will the sabotage plan work? Will DIVA survive? Will Hannah survive? Will TRITON be stopped?

This recipe is delicious, as are the Russian recipes given at the end of each chapter. These recipes are signatures of Matthews’ books. Is he acknowledging that spy thrillers are really formulaic, just a recipe? Is he signaling his expertise in all things Russian? Or is he just a good cook.

Often a sequel is weak, but this one stands up to the challenge set by Red Sparrow; in fact, I think it is even better. Matthews isn’t as subtle as John LeCarré, but he is a master in the spy game.

Five stars.
704 reviews14 followers
May 6, 2015

Jason Matthews is a master at concocting intriguing spy stories. His new novel, “Palace of Intrigue,” continues the adventures of Dominika Egorova and Nathaniel Nash who were introduced to readers in his Edgar Award winning “Red Sparrow.” This book is a stand-alone story of current international political events presented in totally believable prose by someone who’s been there.

Matthews, a retired CIA officer, with over thirty years of clandestine prowling around the world of international intelligence, knows of what he writes and the authenticity of his stories rings loud and clear. His writing is crystal clear, his characterizations are right on, his dialogue crackles with reality, and his scenic descriptions are vivid and authentic.

This book is not for the faint hearted. Torture sessions and assassinations are presented in full color and striking detail. The absolute evil of the villains makes one’s teeth hurt. And an overabundance of dolts in high places is also carefully documented, giving just the right balance to his characters.

In an epicurean touch, the author has included a recipe at the close of each chapter for a regional food treat that appears somewhere in the story. They appear delicious; red lentil soup, potato pancakes with mushroom sauce, stuffed buns with beets, cold cucumber soup. Unfortunately, when considered along with the circumstances under which they appeared in the text, I’ll wait awhile before I try them.

The spy business is actually very wearisome and mundane except for brief periods of terrifying confrontations and constant expectation of a horrible death. Matthews is very adept at bringing his reader along for these moments. I urge you to indulge Jason Mathews, travel with him, and then enjoy the quiet when you return to your safe house.

Profile Image for Rob.
78 reviews4 followers
December 5, 2019
A highly place CIA agent gets passed over for a promotion. So, in retaliation, he begins to sell secrets to Russia. He learns Dominika is on the CIA payroll and threatens to expose her.

This book does have a lot of action from a funnel assassination team in Vienna to a dramatic rescue/exfiltration to a riveting showdown in Paris.

However, in my opinion, the book has a couple of negatives. First, I can really do without the dead ghosts who sit on the window every other page. Secondly, the ending comes across a little disjointed when Domi is sent to Paris before Sebastian even makes it there. Finally, I didn't really like the huge build-up for characters like Hannah - just to have them play a very small role.

The book does raise a hypocritical flaw in thinking. Dominika is portrayed as a heroine for betraying her own country and spying for the U.S. However, Sebastian is portrayed as a villain for doing the same thing - but against the U.S.

The book does provoke thoughts on the risks involved with becoming a spy for the CIA. What happens in Putin's Russia when somebody is arrested for treason?

All things considered, I give it 4/5
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,484 reviews