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Assassin's Heart Hardcover – February 2, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In the kingdom of Lovero, Lea Saldana belongs to the First Family of assassins. The nine Families of "clippers" are hired throughout the kingdom to kill in the name of the goddess Safraella. Lea keeps her relationship with Val, a member of the Da Vias Family, a secret. She knows her Family would not approve, but she can't seem to help herself. One night, she is betrayed and her Family is murdered. Lea must flee the only home she's ever known before the Da Vias realize they missed a Saldana. She discovers her estranged uncle is still alive and sets off to find him in order to avenge her Family and destroy the Da Vias. Along the way, she discovers a place and a mission all her own. The action and adventure packed into this first-person narrative will keep the pages turning, although the pace slows as Lea gets her bearings in a new city. The secondary characters are developed enough to be distinctive, and Lea's convictions and determination will keep fans of strong female leads rooting for her. The familiar elements of fantasy are all evident here. VERDICT Recommend to those who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and love stories; a first purchase.—Natalie Struecker, Atlantic Public Library, IA
“An electrifying debut that captivated me from the first nail-biting chapter. Spellbinding!” (Gennifer Albin, New York Times bestselling author)
“Love, death, family—and vengeance. This gripping fantasy thriller will keep you turning the pages all night long.” (Laura Ruby, author of the Printz Award-winning Bone Gap)
“A lavishly constructed fantasy world with an intricate society.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Equal parts adventure, romance, and politics, Ahiers’ first novel is astonishingly good. This is a unique twist on a love story, and the exciting Godfather-esque plotline adds layers of intrigue. Fans of Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassins series will snatch this one up in a heartbeat. (Booklist (starred review))
Ahiers’s Romeo and Juliet-inspired world of gods, angry ghosts, and assassins is darkly lush, and Lea’s voice is strong and pragmatic, making for a stylish and rich read. (Publishers Weekly)
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Cross the best parts of Steven Brust and Mercedes Lackey, and you have what Sarah Ahiers has written in Assassin's Heart. From beginning to end, there is nothing slow, plodding, or unnecessary in this story. The villains have reasons and humanity, the heroes have their all-too-human weaknesses and flaws, and there is no way the reader can avoid caring about them as they struggle against the odds stacked higher and higher against them. Ahiers has created an analogue fantasy world that lives and breathes its own consistent beliefs and social structures, and there is just a touch of magic and real wonder the give it a very special spark. Add Assassin's Heart to your fantasy (and/or young adult) "must read" list!
What I liked the best about it was the development and worldbuilding of Lovero and Rennes and all of the other places--there were so many little details that were woven in there that I could truly imagine it as another world and see it completely real through my eyes. It was so full of color and life and I loved that the world itself and the religions and cultures were so developed.
Lea was a great protagonist and I loved her drive and how she slowly came to realize what was really important in her life. I loved that she had this dry wit and this angry bit about her that kept her going but she never pushed me away as a reader even though she did things like murder--though I guess it's legal. Les was also a really good character and I found myself rooting for him and her as a team and as a couple. There are a few wonderful twists in this novel that had me silently screaming and gasping especially near the end and I loved how well they were handled and executed. I think the ending was very satisfying and I wonder what's going to happen next with the Families as they've been left.
I would say the middle is a little slow compared to the beginning and end but I did like that time as it developed the relationship between Les and Lea and I'd rather have that than the two of them just meeting and instantly falling in love.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves YA Fantasy and spectacular writing!
Lea Saldana is a clipper, a trained assassin, from a powerful family. When her family is killed by a rival and her heart is betrayed, she decides she must take revenge. This book is so many things. There's the intricate world-building of families and ghosts and religion. There's the wonderful description - the foods and the towns and the surroundings. There's adventure (!!) and a sweet romance. There's a horse named Butters. Butters! Oh man, I really loved Butters.
But at the heart of the story is Lea, a fierce, loyal young woman driven by revenge. She was awesome!
I'm a huge fan of Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assassin trilogy. I think Sarah Ahiers' book is perfect for fellow fans! If you like adventure, romance and lushly built worlds, this book is for you!