Series: The Assassin's Curse #1
Published: 2012 by Strange Chemistry
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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There are three ways of bettering yourself in the Pirates’ Confederation, Mama told me once: murder, mutiny, and marriage.
Ananna of the Tanarau grew up on a pirate ship. She’s about to be married off to a member of the Hariri clan, a rival pirate family, but she doesn’t like her fiance and runs away instead. Ananna has heard stories since she was a little girl about the mystical assassins known as the Jadorr’a, but she’s never seen one, and doesn’t think they’re real. They’re like a bogeyman or a monster under the bed.
The Hariris send an assassin to kill Ananna, but during the fight, she accidentally saves his life. Naji (the assassin) then tells her that he has been cursed, and now he is bound to protect her. Together the two of them embark on a quest to break the curse, which will take them on a fantastic voyage where they travel to distant lands filled with unstable magic.
First of all, pirates. I’ve been in a piratey (and I know that piratey is not a word, but I’m gonna use it anyway) mood all summer. I’m in the middle of a high seas D&D campaign, my ringtone is the theme from Pirates of the Carribean, and for some reason the rum is always gone. Reading a book about pirates and assassins was loads of fun, and The Assassin’s Curse is one of the best books that I’ve read this summer. It is unputdownable. I read the sequel in the same sitting because I couldn’t stop without seeing how the story would end. (Public Service Announcement: This is why owning a Kindle is dangerous. You can get books on demand without having to leave your home.)
It’s the little details that get me, and that make me love this book so much. There’s a scene in The Assassin’s Curse where Ananna gets sunburned. One of my pet peeves with the fantasy genre is that the protagonists will spend all day in the sun and not get sunburned. I was so excited to see an author pay attention to something like that rather than just assuming that it’s a magical happy land where the sun’s radiation does not affect the skin.
Another wonderful detail is Ananna’s voice. She’s a little bit rough around the edges, and so her speech isn’t quite proper. She’s a bloody pirate, and will curse like one when the occasion calls for it. It’s done in an authentic and believable way, and her spunk and determination come through in the way she speaks to others. She’s such a fun character.
And the romance… there’s not a trace of instalove here. Ananna doesn’t even realize she likes Naji until the very end of the book. For a while the two of them flat out don’t like each other and are annoyed that they’re stuck with each other until the curse is broken. Their relationship develops slowly as they get to know one another and start to trust each other.
The one down side to the book is that it doesn’t really end. When going back to write my reviews after reading The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish in succession, I had a hard time remembering where the first book ended and the second book began. It felt like this should really have been one long book rather than two shorter ones. That being said, I’m saving many of my thoughts on the series for my review of book two, just because I don’t want to accidentally talk about things here that were really a part of the second book more than the first one.