First Lines: One swift act. I had thought that was all it would take. A knife in the gut. A firm twist for good measure.
I was a furtive thief at the library when I saw this. I snatched it and held it tightly to my chest, daring anyone to take it from me with a sideways glare of my eyes. I have been dying for this book since the cliffhanger at the end of the last book.
*Series Spoilers Ahead. Serious spoilers from the first book. Read ahead with caution*
With little chance of escape, Lia and Rafe have to navigate the entirely new land of Venda with caution. One misstep could cost one or both of them their lives. Kaden, Lia’s would-be assassin, is desperate to keep her alive. He’s gone so far as to tell the Komizar of Venda that Lia has the gift and could be valuable to the nation. But he never anticipated the Komizar’s extreme interest. For Lia, nothing is as straightforward as it should be. Rafe, who lied to Lia, sacrificed his freedom to protect her. Kaden, her assassin, has saved her life. The Vendans Lia always thought were barbarians aren’t as different from her people as she thought. Wrestling not only to protect herself but also with her desires, Lia will have to make choices that have dangerous consequences…for herself and her country.
I love a good fantasy and I’m so glad this fell into my lap when it did. I needed it.
Lia is an excellent example of a strong heroine who doesn’t rely on men to save her. (Even if she does have two waiting in the wings.) She clever and shrewd and unpredictable to her enemies. I loved following her story because every time someone (usually a man) thought they had her cowed, she came back swinging with something unexpected and clever. I love a good comeuppance when it’s needed.
And the introduction of the Komizar was a good move. He’s the kind of bad guy you almost have to respect for it. Like, he actually seems to have had good intentions at one time, but they got lost along the way as the power corrupted him. He’s not inherently evil, but there’s definitely something rotten at the core. He’s…interesting.
I did think the plot of this one was less suspenseful than the previous book. I mean, we knew by this book who was the assassin and who the prince, so it couldn’t build suspense from that angle. This was more of a mental challenge for Lia. Could she control her temper, could she wait until the perfect moment to strike? Could she withstand the Komizar’s punches? I like to think of it as a giant chess match. Which is a lot of fun, but not always the most suspenseful.
The end does leave us on a cliffhanger again (I know, right?), but it’s not as dramatic as the last one. Partly, this feeling may come from the fact that I read this book over the course of many days, diluting the suspense.
Overall, it’s an impressive fantasy. Love the strength of the leads and I’m looking forward to the next book.