“The Guild of Assassins” by Anna Kashina

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“The Guild of Assassins” by Anna KashinaThe Guild of Assassins by Anna Kashina
Series: The Majat Code #2
Published: 2014 by Angry Robot
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 457
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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The Guild of Assassins is the second book in Anna Kashina’s series The Majat Code.  If you haven’t read the first book, see my review of Blades of the Old Empire instead, as this review will contain spoilers from the first book.

When Kara made the decision to disobey her orders to save Prince Kythar’s life, she was cast out from her guild.  The assassin Mai was sent to kill her, but he chose to instead spare her life.  Now the Majat Guild has finally found out, and demands that Mai return for punishment.  Meanwhile, a crazed cult is attempting to take over the kingdom, and Mai and Kara suspect that they have managed to gain insider guild knowledge.  Our heroes decide to return to the guild, even though it might cost them their lives, in order to make things right and warn the guild about their impending danger.

The plotline in this series feels a bit pulpy, and that’s a good thing for me.  There are evil cultists, dastardly plots to take over the world, and epic arena battles that probably didn’t need to happen but are certainly fun to read.  I’m looking forward to the next book and to seeing how it all wraps up.

One of the central threads in The Guild of Assassins was a love triangle.  Usually I hate love triangles, but I didn’t mind it so much here.  In the previous book, Kara was in love with Kyth.  It was Kara’s first real relationship, and being with Kyth taught her how to open up and let herself feel.  At the same time, the two of them were clearly never right for each other in the long term.  Kara is bound by a sense of duty to her guild that Kyth doesn’t understand, and Kyth is heir to the throne and needs to make his decisions based on politics.  It’s really clear that Kyth loves Kara a lot more than she loves him.  Enter Mai, who is more of an intellectual match for Kara.  He’s also a member of the guild, so he understands her sense of loyalty to them despite the fact that they tried to kill her.  The two of them both made choices where they put their own sense of what was right ahead of the mandates of the guild, and as they travel together, they develop a relationship that’s cemented by the fact that they are both pretty sure they are about to die.  It’s only after they realize they might stand a chance of living more than a fortnight that things start to get complicated.

I think what made this love triangle work for me was the understanding that relationships don’t always last forever, and that sometimes people need to move on and make the choices that are right for them.  Imagine if you ended up with the first person you ever had a crush on, or even dated… it’s probably for the best that that relationship ended, even if it was nice while it lasted.

When I first read Blades of the Old EmpireI noticed a lot of problems with the book, and my general impression was that the book had been rushed to publication without the usual editing or quality control that I’ve come to expect from Angry Robot.  In retrospect, I realize that they were going through a major transition as a company, and there was radio silence for a few months as they went through a lot of changes.  I’m pleased to say that my experience with The Guild of Assassins was much better.

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