Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Title: Assassin’s Heart
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Series: Assassin’s Heart, #1
Pages: 420
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 2nd 2016

       “In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.
      Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.”

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“The ghost shrieked—a guttural screech that echoes across the field. It rushed my way, its white, glowing form spread out behind it like morning mist.”

Sarah Ahier’s debut novel, Assassin’s Heart, had such a promising premise but fell short in execution. Lea Saldana has been raised in a family devoted to the goddess of death and resurrection, Safraella. As part of a Family of “clippers” Lea has been trained as an assassin since birth. For Lea, her Family means everything, so when she loses them, her entire world crumbles. As much as I wanted to feel the devastation of such a loss to the protagonist, the story moves far too quickly, never allowing readers a chance to feel anything but a passing sense of sadness. Assassin’s Heart really needed to take its time at the beginning of the novel, not just as a way to introduce Lea’s family, but as a way to introduce the world of clippers. I would have liked to have seen this world play out more because even though we are told how the system of assassins and clientele works, I would have liked to have seen it in action.

I enjoy reading about flawed characters and Lea, being only seventeen, is more rash decisions than careful preparation. The problem with this is she has been raised as an assassin, schooled in various skills, and one of these ought to have been strategy. Lea is an example of someone who has little to no understanding of how important a well-thought out plan is. While I will say that Lea does learn a valuable lesson about family by the time the novel finishes, I do wish the book would have spent more time devoted to how she was dealing with her loss internally rather than focusing so much on her overwhelming desire for revenge. The novel could also have used more development in terms of minor characters. Val, Lea’s secret suitor, is given only two scenes with the protagonist before tragedy strikes and I felt very little for him and Lea’s relationship as a result. The most interesting secondary character was Lea’s exiled uncle Marcello, who I really wished we could have spent more time with.

Assassin’s Heart had a really interesting religious system that I wanted to know more about, but failed to grip me emotionally and could have been more enjoyable if the characters and world were given more time to develop.

Rating: 3/5


Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah Maas

Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #2

It’s been months since Celaena Sardothien won the competition that would make her the King’s Champion, his personal assassin tasked with dispatching those who would challenge his authority. With a rebellion brewing in Eyllwe and rumors of one in his own city, the King of Adarlan will do anything to hold on to power. Celaena plays a dangerous game, secretly undermining the orders of the King and lying to her friends in the process. And there is something else amiss in the castle and the further Celaena digs, the more she discovers that she isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Everyone has something to hide and everyone’s loyalty will be tested, and no one will be able to outrun their destiny.

“She didn’t know how she made it, or how long it took but suddenly she was on the ground and sprinting toward the open front gate.

The guards or footmen or servants started shouting. She was running–running as fast as she could, losing control of her body with each heartbeat that pumped the gloriella through her.”

Caleana would like nothing more than the chance to fight for her freedom and the first book is a prime example of the lengths she will go to to achieve this dream. Another side of Celaena emerges in this book, one fearful of what others expect from her and one who doesn’t believe happiness is a possibility because of these expectations. There is a greater cause calling her and her own happiness might have to be sacrificed. Everything that Celaena cares about can be used as a weapon against her and only time will tell if she will crumble entirely or embrace her fate.

Prince Dorian and Chaol Westfall both continue to play a prominent role in Celaena’s life, but each have their own struggles they must face. Dorian feels like a less frivolous character this time around, who is just discovering his own influence. Chaol has worked hard to become Captain of the Guard and given up his inheritance. The loyalty he shows to the King correlates with this sacrifice and his own oath. In the end, Chaol will have to decide what is right rather than who he has sworn his allegiance to.

The King of Adarlan reveals himself to be an even more wicked character than I gave him credit for in the first book. Him, along with the enigmatic Baba Yellowlegs, are both creatures bred out of nightmares who I will not soon forget. The second book in Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass series, Crown of Midnight, is even more exciting and thrilling than its predecessor, with higher stakes not just for Celaena but potentially for the whole world. I freely admit that I held this book to my chest, both smiling and agonizing over it, feeling an overwhelming delight over the release of the next installment this September.

Rating: 5/5