She didn’t look like an assassin. She looked like a young girl—a pretty one at that, with her small stature and delicate features.
Why hello there, generic special snowflake Mary Sue heroine who's a dumb, weak, pussy-ass delicate little flower with every guy desiring her and powers that she never earned.
“You’re beautiful to watch, you know...Your grace—it’s impossible to ignore. Did you notice the way my men looked at you? And it wasn’t just them.”
Oh, and there's a sad attempt at love triangle.
Whoop dee doo!
If a good high fantasy is a sumptuous feast for the imagination, this book would be the equivalent of a few carrot sticks, with half a teaspoon of fat-free ranch dressing.
This is one of the most poorly crafted "high fantasy" books I have ever read. I used quotation marks for high fantasy, because within an actual high fantasy, there is some semblance of world building. Explanations. Context. There was none of the above within this book.
I'm going to forgo one of my long-winded metaphors and simply say that this book was "incredibly bad." Like the equivalent of Defy bad. So why a 1.5 instead of a 1? No breeding houses. But that's not really saying much.
This book is incredibly fucking dull. There is no world building. It moves at the pace of a snail with a broken leg, if snails had legs, that is...
The writing is completely unremarkable in every way. There is little to no character development.
To top it off, the main character is one of the worst high fantasy heroines I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. There's usually a method to my madness, I have a separate section where I analyze the main character. Fuck it, I'm having my little character rant first, it's been a long day and I'm feeling rebellious.
The main character is Kyra, a 17-year old thief. She so suffers from a serious condition that has been spreading around many book heroines known as too-stupid-to-live syndrome.
She scrambled back as the demon cat launched itself off a tree, landing softly on padded feet right where Kyra had been standing.
She should have remembered that cats could climb trees.
She has been a thief and a street urchin for most of her life. Cool, right? Well, no. No, because she is the most unwise, least street-savvy thief in the whole damn world. Kyra is a thief who won't carry around a weapon to defend herself.
“Rand says you don’t carry a knife.”
“I don’t need to. I can usually get away,” she said.
And consequently, she is completely fucking useless at self-defense. Kyra is not a fighter. She needs saving. She is saved by the act of god, or deus ex fucking machina almost every single time because she is incapable of defending herself. Like this time.
Someone pulled him off her, and Kyra dragged herself onto her elbow, breath coming in painful gasps. Both her attackers lay on the ground, unconscious. Above them stood a man who looked vaguely familiar.
And again, and again, and again.
She screamed, only to cut off as she choked on her own blood. The pain was unbearable, growing unimaginably worse when he twisted his knife.
“We would like to take her with us,” a man said.
AND BOOM, SAVED FROM INSTA-DEATH.
She constantly flushes and blushes.
- She flushed and drew her arm away.
- She flushed red, unsure as to whether she imagined his mocking tone.
- She looked away, taken aback at the flush rising in her cheeks.
She is the worst liar in the world.
“You’re not telling me everything,” he said.
“There’s nothing to tell,” she said too quickly.
She has no sense of loyalty. She will betray a group who takes her in at the drop of a hat. She betrays just about every group that takes her in. From a group of Robin Hood wannabes...
“It didn’t take long for you to switch your allegiance, did it?”
...To the "barbarians" who rescued her.
Could she betray them after they had saved her life?
The answer is yes. Always fucking yes. To the one new friend who saved her life.
It was true. [She] had saved her life, fought for her, and taught her the ways of the clan. And Kyra had betrayed her.
She will reveal her greatest weakness, her love for her friends, to the enemy to be used against her without a thought.
She likes small children. Cute. But when I read a book with a high fantasy heroine, I want less cuddly maternal type and more kick-ass. I didn't get much ass-kicking at all.
Because, as I said, she FAINTS AND FLUSHES ALL THE FUCKING TIME.
And naturally, everyone falls in love with her. She is so bloody special. Rebel bad boy assassin sees something special in her.
James pushed back from the table, studying her again with a thoughtful expression. “I’ve never met anyone quite like you, Kyra.” His voice was soft, lacking its usual edge.
Knightly nobleman adores her for no bloody reason.
He didn’t let her go, though his gaze softened in a way that bruised her pride. “You’re a puzzle, Kyra.”
And she's speshul. SPESHUL.
How did he really feel about Kyra? She was like no one he’d ever met before, and he couldn’t deny that she was beautiful when she worked.
“You’ve noticed that you’re different, have you not?
We're in a high fantasy world, the most generic one in the entire fucking universe. Want explanations for something? Good bloody luck, you get none. I mean, things are easy enough to figure out, like if someone has a vampire in a book, you don't need to be told that they're fucking bloodsuckers, but SOMETIMES I WANT AN EXPLANATION. Who knows, the vampire in that particular book could suck the juices from oranges, instead of humans.
So yeah, back to Generic High Fantasy World. Is there magic in this world? Don't fucking know. For some reason, a felbeast will appear. What the fuck is a felbeast? A...demon...thing...obvi, but STILL, SOME FUCKING EXPLANATIONS WOULD BE NICE.
Boom, there are barbarians. OMG THE POOR ARE BEING OPPRESSED BY THE WEALTHY WITHOUT ANY CONTEXT AT ALL YAY.
Oh, and there are demon cats. Whooooooo! And felbeasts. What the fuck are they? Where the hell did they come from? ENJOY HAVING NO EXPLANATIONS AT ALL.
Into this mess of a fucking setting, enter our fucking idiot delicate flower of a heroine. Kyra is 17, a beautiful thief (well, she doesn't think she's beautiful, but OBVIOUSLY WE FIND OUT LATER THAT SHE IS, HYUK HYUK HYUK. She is a competent thief who fucks up a job, and for some reason after that, the Robin Hood-like Assassin's Guild who steal from the rich to give to the poor, only they want, nay, NEED the irrepressible Kyra's help. And then there's darkly handsome, deadly leader James who makes her heart flutter. Who makes her blush.
She was a professional, not some giddy farm girl.
“It’s what I do.”
Riiiiiiiiiiight.But no, it's not just James, there's handsome nobleman, knightly SER TRISTAM who makes her heart pound like the beating of a very small mallet.
And there was something in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. Had it only been a few weeks ago when they’d been enemies?
Much excitement. So love. Grand passion. Wow.
WHAT IS HER SECRET? WHY IS KYRA SO SPESHUL?
He was scrutinizing her, eyes wary.
And more importantly, WILL KYRA EVER STOP CRYING?
She clutched her blanket tighter and blinked back tears.
Kyra looked at him, and the forgiveness in his eyes made her want to burst into tears again.
Kyra could no longer hold her tears back.
Kyra squeezed her eyes tight against the tears that threatened to spill.
To her horror, she felt tears prickle behind her eyes.
Her body gave way to racking sobs. She lay there, curled in a ball, hugging her legs through the convulsions.
Kyra let it all out then, clutching the girls as she sobbed.
And will she ever be able to NOT fight like a kitten with its leg in a splint?
With a ragged cry, she launched herself at James, slashing wildly. There was a brief flicker of triumph on James’s face as he stepped aside, wrenching her knife arm behind her and twisting her down. She landed face-first on the ground. Two sharp kicks to the ribs knocked any remaining breath out of her.
By the way, there is also has a completely pathetic attempt at copying the premise of one of my favorite books...Poison Study. No. Don't even *snaps fingers*
“We’ve anticipated that and have instructed the healer Ilona to withhold the last few doses of antidote.”
Tristam tensed. “Sir?” he asked.
“The small amount of poison left in her body shouldn’t interfere overly much with her health,” said Willem. “We believe that the need for her final dose should motivate her to return to the Palace.”
Needless to say, just say no.
I realized, as I read to the end of the book, that the author has some seriously impressive credentials. A Ph.D from MIT, one of the best institutions of higher ed in the US. Wow. Bravo to her. I can never hope to rival her intelligence.
With that said, the education and the intelligence of the author does not necessarily make for a great book, and this is living proof. No matter how much I respect the author's smarts, this was an absolutely terrible book for me.