Miss Riki’s Review:
Calaena Sardthien lives in a land without magic, where the king rules with an absolute hand. But Calaena is notorious- an infamous assassin known throughout the lands as the deadliest and most feared killer there is. But her life is not her own. When Calaena is summoned to the castle, she is not there to kill the king, but to win her freedom. She must defeat twenty-three of the most adept thieves, killers, and warriors in a competition to be released from prison and serve as the king’s champion. It is not an easy path, but one that will lead to her ultimate desire- freedom. But with something altogether evil dwelling in the walls of the castle, Calaena’s competitors start to die one by one, and Calaena must fight not only for her freedom, but for her own survival.
I have to admit that Fantasy is not my first choice in genre when it comes to reading, and when I picked up this book, it was with the firm outlook that it would be a difficult read and that I wouldn’t be interested in the story. Three pages was all it took to completely change my mind. This book completely took me by surprise and blew me away in all the best ways possible.
Calaena is the strong, kickass heroine I had been looking for, and I loved the high stakes and page-turning drama that kept me up half the night reading. There’s a light romance that runs as a secondary plotline in the book, and I wasn’t even a little bit upset when it turned into a bit of a love triangle at the end. The two men in question (Prince Dorian and Captain Chaol Wetfall) are equally compelling and the romance and attachment developed at such a natural pace, with plenty of getting to know each character to make it completely realistic. Instead of being thrown into loving two men, Calaena is conflicted and attached to each one in different ways. Of course, it’s not resolved at the end of this book, but I’m more than willing to pick up books two and three (or more) to see how things play out.
This novel has everything you could possibly ask for in a fantasy, including a captivating world, a kickass female lead character (I mean- she’s an assassin, c’mon!), a little bit of magic, and a whole lot of mystery, all wrapped up with wry humor and a believable romance.