Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Recent Reading: The Assassin’s Curse

Okay, how about this cover? For me, it’s nice, but nothing special. I like the scrolly lettering, though.

And here’s the back cover:

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. And when Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together.

To break the curse, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks — all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic, and the growing romantic tension between them.

And you know what? This is pretty misleading, in one important respect. I mean, sure, all that stuff is true.

Except those three impossible tasks? The main characters don’t even find out what those ARE till right at the end. Yep, pretty much a cliffhanger ending. I mean, no one is stuck in a tower being tortured when the book ends, and THANK YOU BARBARA HAMBLY, for doing that to me in your Dog Wizard series. No, it’s not that bad. I’m just saying, you may want to wait till the next book comes out (in June) before you read this one.

So, THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE. It’s another Strange Chemistry book, which is one reason I picked it up. A bigger reason was this review, over at Ivy Book Bindings, which does make it sound really good. Plus, I always like assassins, as long as they’re not embedded in a Book Of Unrelieved Grimness. Instead of Unrelieved Grimness, this one promised pirates and magic curses and all kinds of not-very-serious fun stuff. And it delivers! I zippd right through it; it was perfect for my mood today.

This is a light, fun book, nicely written, with a slowly-developing romance between two great characters. I thought Ananna was a bit of an idiot for taking off like that in the first place, but then on second thought I don’t know. Her impulse to run certainly started the book off fast, and when we actually get to see the dreaded Isles of the Sky, well, actually, maybe I’d ditch my whole life and run, too, if some young twit I didn’t even know wanted to marry me and drag me off to adventure in ’em.

Actually, the Isles of the Sky? The one we actually see in the book? That is a great creepy island. I’m tempted to tell you all about it — the trees! The other trees! The enchanted water! Well, I’ll restrain myself.

In fact, I like every part of the various settings — I like the camels! I like Lisirra, the city that smells like cardamom and rosewater (at least the garden district). I like the desert, but we also get a very nice feel for shipboard life. Clarke is deft at building her world by sliding in details as she goes, no need for lengthy exposition here.

I like Ananna’s voice: “I ain’t never been one to trust beautiful people.” The assassin, Naji, is a much more educated person. Anybody can see their romance coming a mile away, except, of course, them.

I have some believability issues, yes. But hey, this reads on the the young end of YA to me, so what’s a really convenient asp or two between friends? I would like to find out sometime that the asp was arranged by a god or something, but whatever, I’m not going to dwell on it.

So, yeah, I really enjoyed this one. It was nice to read a book that was just fun. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel.

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6 Comments Recent Reading: The Assassin’s Curse

  1. Cheryl L

    That sounds delightful Rachel, as does the extract I found online. You’ve sold me – I just need to find a copy now!

  2. Rachel

    I think you’ll enjoy it — and I can hardly imagine a thirteen-year-old girl who didn’t, so this is definitely one to think of for a kid who reads. Boys ought to like it, too — I mean, pirates! Adventure! And Naji is a great male character, except for how he moons over his ex-flame Leila. I don’t imagine THAT lingering infatuation is going to continue to linger too much longer.

  3. Craig

    When you said “I mean, no one is stuck in a tower being tortured when the book ends…” I was thinking that you meant to refer to the ending of THE TWO TOWERS, but I suppose the fact that everyone nowadays can immediately pick up THE RETURN OF THE KING blurs the impact.

  4. Rachel

    I had forgotten that, but yeah, it sure had an impact the first time I read the trilogy. Took me YEARS to read the first part of THE RETURN OF THE KING because I didn’t care about Helm’s Deep, only about getting to the part where Sam rescues Frodo.

  5. Redhead

    hmmm.. I think i’ll wait till the next book in the series shows up so i can read them back to back. Nothing is more irritating than a cliffhanger!

    and I LOVE that cover art, I hope the cover art for the 2nd one is in a similar style, so they sort of match.

  6. Rachel

    It is similar art, they show it over at the Strange Chemisty website. And at least June is pretty close! But yeah, I would have waited if I’d realized.

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