Assassin’s Gambit – Hearts and Thrones #1 – Amy Raby

Whoa! That was my first thought when I read the prologue. It started out in the middle of a sex scene where the protagonist kills the man she’s having sex with. I was debating on whether or not to continue reading but money is tight and books are expensive so I decided to keep reading.

I had just finished reading an excellent Young Adult Fantasy series and was looking for something similar so I looked into romantic fantasy and found several blogs with lists. This series was recommended on two lists so I tried it.

Vitala is an assassin who has trained since she was eight years old by the Obsidian Circle, an order of assassins and spies for the country of Riorca. She has been sent to kill the emperor of Kjall who has invited her to his palace because she is the world champion in Caturanga, a strategy game much like Chess but more difficult and complex.

The Obsidian Circle believes killing the emperor will throw Kjall into a civil war while nobles vie for the throne. But Vitala wonders if killing Lucien, the emperor, might put someone worse on the throne like Cassian, Lucien’s highest ranking military officer and a distant cousin. Heis middle-aged and has eyes for Lucien’s thirteen year old sister because it could put him on the throne if something happened to  Lucien. His goal is to obliterate Riorca but Lucien keeps him in check.

The story was okay but I think there should have been more background story building with secondary characters and political scheming to keep me interested in future books. As it stands, I didn’t connect with any of the background characters. I did with one but he was killed off early in the story. That left none.

I’m still debating on whether or not to buy the next book.

The Bitter Kingdom – Girl of Fire and Thorns #3 – Rae Carson

This book frustrated me. I felt there was too much detail or what I call “filler” in Elise’s travels–and she traveled a lot in this book. I think a lot of it could have been either cut out or shortened. Other than that, I enjoyed this final book of the trilogy.

Instead of just Elisa’s POV, we get Hector’s too while he is the prisoner of Franco, the Invierne assassin, and traveling through the freezing mountains. It was interesting to get his perspective.

Elisa and three of her friends are traveling not far behind, trying to rescue Hector before they reach Invierne, the enemy’s country. She’s tapped into her power now so she and Storm, an Invierno loyal to her, practice their new powers.

Elisa has to rescue Hector and has to figure out how to get her country of Joya d’Arena back from Conde Eduardo and General Luz-Manuel who have usurped it, risking civil war.

It is always hard to come to the end of a good series because I have the daunting task of finding a new series that will live up to it.

The Crown of Embers – Fire and Thorns #2 – Rae Carson

How unlucky in love can you be? Lucero-Elisa lost her husband and the man she loved in the last book.

She was the second born princess in her father’s kingdom so she was married off at the age of sixteen to King Alejandro of the not-so-near country of Joya d’Arena. He was handsome and kind but they never consummated the marriage because Alejandro had a mistress whom he was in love with. Oh, and he forgot to tell anyone in his country that he got married. Apparently, he married her because her father and sister needed to get her safely out of the country because she is the bearer of the Godstone and they agreed to send troops to Joya d’Arena to help Alejandro with his upcoming war with Invierne. One every hundred years someone is chosen by God to Bear the Godstone which is embedded into the stomach just below the skin. Each bearer has some kind of unknown destiny to fulfill. Some succeed and some don’t.

Her Godstone makes her a target of Invierne spies who seek to either kill her and take her stone or use her to win their war.

She was kidnapped by a maid named Cosmé who turned out to be a spy but not for Invierne but for the hill people of Basajuan, an ignored territory on the border of Invierne where it’s people are getting massacred by the fire-throwing magic wielders of Invierne called Animagi. Cosmé and her people believe Elisa’s destiny is to use her stone to somehow defeat the Animagi. Elisa decides to help them and fell in love with Cosmé’s brother Humberto who ended up getting killed in front of Elisa.

Fast forward to Elisa returning to Joya d’Arena only to have Invierne invade. Alejandro jumped in front of an Animagi when he flung his magic fire at Elisa. Elisa was finally able to tap into the power of her Godstone which turned all of the Animagi who invaded the city into dust but Alejandro died a few weeks later of his injuries. He signed a decree making her his heir which made her the queen.

In this book, Elisa is the queen over a broken kingdom. Her advisors are all working their own agendas and some are even working sneakily against her so she doesn’t know who to trust. She only has a few people she trusts: Ximena and Mara her two attendants, Father Nicandro, Father Alentin and the Captain of her royal guard, Hector.

She develops feeling for Hector who has been there for her since the first day she moved to Joya d’Arena. I just kept wondering when Hector was going to get the axe.

This book is another wild and scary adventure. A few interesting characters were introduced in this book but I don’t want to spoil too much for anyone who wants to read this trilogy so I won’t get into any of them here.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns – Fire and Thorns #1 – Rae Carson

It’s not often I fall in love with the heroine of a book but I couldn’t help but adore Elisa. A lot of times, author’s make the female protagonist too perfect or too confident which makes me instantly distance myself from them because I like flawed characters and perfect people bore me. Elisa is actually overweight and knows she’s not extremely beautiful like her older sister but she is smart and knows herself pretty well.

Elise is the chosen one. She’s the bearer of the Godstone, a stone that was put there by God underneath the skin of her belly. It is said that she is to fulfill a great destiny as did the ones before her have done but she has no idea what that destiny is.

Because she is the second daughter of the king, her older sister will become the queen once her father, the king dies so Elise is married off to the king of another country when she is sixteen years old. She travels with him to his country through dangerous jungles.

She learns that she has some serious enemies because of her Godstone so her new husband wants to keep that a secret. Not only does he want to keep her Godstone a secret, but he also wants to keep their marriage a secret. She wonders about this so she writes to her sister who responds by telling her that her life was in danger so they needed to get her far away and King Alejandro agreed to marry her if her father sent him troops for the upcoming war with Invierne. So much for romance!

A little rant.

I wondered how Alejandro thought he could keep a royal marriage secret since Elise’s entire country witnessed it. Even though the road they took was dangerous, there were other routes. The author wrote that there was post between the two countries too. I think it’s the one flaw in this author’s story.

Elise discovers a lot that was kept from her in her kingdom. She is in grave danger but she can either be a hero and fulfill her destiny or do nothing and let evil take over the kingdom and world.

Poison Study – Soulfinders #1 – Maria V. Snyder

I’m not sure what to think about the characters in this book. I don’t know if I like them or not because they all seem kind of cold-blooded but I have to chalk that up to the world they live in.

Here’s a country that was a corrupt kingdom until someone named Commander Ambrose took over 15 years ago but I think I would have preferred to live under the king than the Commander because it sounds like a police state where everyone has to wear uniforms according to their trade and district and have strict curfews. All magicians have been banned or executed. Most ran to the neighboring country of Sitia. Their law is something called the Code which is set in stone. Killing someone gets you death even if it was self-defense or an accident.

This is what happened to Yelena. She was raised as an orphan by General Brazell who had an orphanage. When she was sixteen, the general and his cruel son, Reyad, ripped her away from the others and started training her. When she failed to become what they wanted, the general gave her over to Reyad her tortured her. She killed him and was sent to prison for a year until her execution date.

Instead of being executed, she became the food taster for the Commander. A man named Valek trained her. In order to keep her from escaping, Valek poisoned her with something that needed a regular antidote that he alone knew what it was.

I’m not exactly sure what Valek’s position was but he seemed to be an assassin/spy for the Commander. I guess the Code allowed for it?

I liked the plot of this book but couldn’t figure out why Valek supported the Commander who is just a dictator. I think he was a total sociopath but the author tried to make the Commander seem logical, just and honest.

I am going to read the next book and see how things go before I make any harsh judgements.

Tower of Dawn – Throne of Glass #6 – Sarah J. Maas

BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN A LONG TIME!!!

I’m in love with Sartaq! Could there be a more perfect man? He’s prince of a kingdom that I would equate to Alexandria, Egypt in ancient times and from the description that the author gave of the people of the land, I pictured a gorgeous, dark eyed, Middle-Eastern man. He’s called The Winged Prince because he leads a squadron of rukhin, men who live on the highest peaks of the land and ride giant predatory birds called ruks. He said two things to Nesryn in this book that wreaked havoc on my emotions. I can’t tell you what they were without giving away spoilers but the first one sent chills down my spine and the second had me bawling. He’s my new book boyfriend.

His brother, Kashin, wasn’t bad either but his puppy-dog love for Yrene and the way he obeyed his father without question put him out of the running for a book boyfriend. But is it bad that I wanted Kashin to win over Yrene instead of the leading male character, Chaol?

If you follow the series, you would know that the last book ended with the heroine of the story, Aelin, being captured by the evil Fae queen, Maeve.

This book wasn’t about Aelin. Well, it was but did not feature her directly. This book focused on Chaol and Nesryn who were sent off to Antica, a continent across the narrow sea to the south by King Dorian so that Chaol could find a healer for his broken back.

This story happens concurrently with the last story so Chaol and Nesryn aren’t privy to what the reader already knows and find out as they occur.

Chaol was hit in the back with the powerful evil magic of the King of Adarlan while he was possessed by a Valg prince and now Chaol’s legs do not work. Chaol was Captain of the King’s Guard but Dorian made him tge Hand of the King and made Nesryn the Captain of the King’s Guard.

Nesryn and Chaol are lovers but something cooled between them on the three week ride across the sea. Chaol became an asshole, brooding on his injuries and pushed Nesryn away. I really stopped liking Chaol so much in this book.

Healing his back isn’t their only goal. They need to get the Great Khagan to join them in the war but he won’t even have an audience with them because he’s in mourning for his youngest daughter who “jumped” from a terrace.Their arrival couldn’t have come at a worse time.

This was the best book of the series so far. It could have done without the tedious healing scenes or, at least, less of them but that didn’t make me enjoy this book any less.

A Wise Man’s Fear – The Kingkiller Chronicles #2 – Patrick Rothfuss

This book was one thousand pages long and Kvothe, the main character, had a lot of adventures.

The story is being told by an older Kvothe to a story writer called Chronicler and to Bast, Kvothe’s apprentice. Kvothe owns an inn in a small town and he goes by Kote. I’m assuming he is in hiding or just wants to live a simple life now. His older self seems to be at odds with his younger self who worked hard at building up a reputation for himself of being someone who accomplished great feats similar to the storybook legend of Taborlin the Great, a magician who could break out of doorless and windowless prisons because he knew the names of everything like wind and stone and could command them to do his bidding. The mature Kvothe seems to be subdued and may even regret some of his past.

This book starts out with Kvothe at the University, learning magic or what they call sympathy. He struggles to find money to pay his tuition each term which has been made harder by a fellow student named Ambrose, a rich noble who hates Kvothe.

Kvothe is an amazing musician who plays the lute but he can’t find a patron because Ambrose has threatened or bribed everyone within a hundred miles not to take him on as a client. Ambrose is always causing trouble for Kvothe but Kvothe gives as good as he gets. Rvery term, each student has to go in front of the Masters who ask a few questions and set tuition based on those answers. The day of Kvothe’s interview, a woman came to the inn where Kvothe was staying. She asked if he knew Ambrose, brought him a drink and sat down with him. “To Ambrose Jakis,” she said with sudden fierceness. “May he fall into a well and die.” He smelled nutmeg and plum and then she started sobbing and left the inn.

She had drugged Kvothe but he didn’t realize it until a few people told him he was acting strange and being rude. The drug brings out the worst in people or takes away their inhibitions. It takes days to leave the system so the person can act fairly normal but could take weeks or even months to wear off. Luckily, Fela switched admission days with him so he didn’t totally ruin his chances at the University.

Ambrose also had him charged with malfeasance which brought heat on the University which made the Masters nervous which would have made his tuition for the next term too high to afford. Again, luck intervened. A noble found a possible patron for Kvothe in another country. His friend said Alveron Maer was just as important and almost as powerful as the king and he had written to him and told him he was in need of an educated person who was good with words and who could travel as soon as possible. Kvothe boarded a ship to Vintas.

From there, Kvothe goes on one long adventure.

I know there is one more book coming out but it has been six years since this one was published so who knows how long it will be until the next book is published.