The Queen's Assassin

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"The Queen's Assassin is forced to take on a mysterious apprentice on his most dangerous mission yet, pulling them both into a vicious web of secrets and lies"--

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Sheila

Feb 6, 2020

3.5 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.

All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

Content Warning: Death of an animal and people, Bullying, War, Assassination, Premarital Sex, Imprisonment

"He accepted it, willing himself not to hesitate, and drank of her royal blood.
With that, he was bound. As was his son."

The Queen's Assassin will certainly catch the eye of readers who love political maneuverings. With a rich and detailed history of how this world has come into being, revealed as the story progresses, many will love this world building. There is a lot of historical information given throughout, giving a further glimpse back in time that set up the events of the present, and what makes them important. At times, The Queen's Assassin teeters on the edge of info-dumping. Yet, all of the information given is necessary.

The Kingdoms of Avantine have seen much turmoil throughout history. Before division occurred, Avantine was united under the goddess Deia. Countering her greatness was the cousin of the king of the Dellafiore dynasty-Phras. Envious of his cousin who possessed stronger magical powers, he slew him and took the throne for himself. His lust for power and magic only grew, eventually leading to his title of the Tyrant King. He confiscated any magical text found which were made into scrolls of dark magic named the Deian Scrolls. Only those appointed by the king, the Aphrasian monks, could use magic as it was otherwise forbidden in the land.

Some managed to oppose the evil king. A group of witches amassed and became known as the Hearthstone Guild. They saved all the magic that they could, and dedicated themselves to keeping as much knowledge about magic as possible. When the king finally died, the land divided into Renovia, Montrice, Argonia, and Stavin. The monks, dedicated to magic only, became too powerful and began overrunning their nation's leader. At this point, the assumed-deceased line of the Dellafiores rose to power, and fought to free Renovia from the clutches of war. When he died in battle, the crown of authority was passed to his wife, along with his most trusted ally-his assassin.

The Queen's Assassin starts out years after the king's passing. The son of the previous assassin is now the assigned assassin to Queen Lilianna. Caledan Holt has long ago scarified his life of normalcy. Being the best of the Guild, and bound to the Queen's bidding by his father's blood oath, he has no other choice. Caledon now must find the lost Deian Scrolls to forever eliminate the threat that the Aphrasians pose toward their kingdom since is father was unable to locate them before passing.

One less distinguished, but just as passionate in the Guild, is Shadow. Although she's been brought up to be prepared for court life, she's only ever wanted to become one of the Guild. Having some magical powers of her own, Shadow has been learning to hone her skills to be useful, along with training to become an assassin-just like Caledon Holt. In a way, Shadow gets her wish, when one day she has an unlikely encounter with Caledon and he saves her from being killed. He's a hero to her, but becomes a traitor to the crown when he kills her attacker who turns out to be a prince.

Caledon his carted off to an infamous prison to wait for further orders from his Queen, but things are looking grim. Shadow recognizes Caledon on his way out of town, and decides to embark on a rescue mission of her own. Shadow succeeded in ferrying Caledon out of prison, but the two are attacked on the road. Caledon realizes that Shadow is much more resourceful than he assumed, and they become a team, of sorts. The two learn along the way that there are numerous forces at play between the nations, and one in particular, incredibly sinister. However, as they spend more time with one another, an inevitable relationship buds between the assassin and his "apprentice."

The Queen's Assassin certainly has many twists, turns, shocking reveals, as well as some common tropes. I thought that these tropes were well-placed, and flowed naturally into the main plot-line. Despite this story being focused around Caledon and Shadow, I found myself much more drawn to the history and politics of Avantine. Some of the subplots with the characters fell to the wayside, and just didn't catch my interest.

I wish that there would have been much more description of Avantine to accompany the history built into the story. It was difficult to distinguish the realms from one another. Customs, culture, landscapes, climate, etc were muddy and not nearly as defined as I would have liked. I think ingraining these differences would make some of the history more memorable. If historical events cannot be attached to current attributes, they become lost and forgotten. Even so, I appreciated that there was a great deal of a backstory given to set the stage. It gave The Queen's Assassin depth and focus, and I'm curious to see where this story will go.

Vulgarity: Minimal.
Sexual content: Some insinuative behavior and one scene of intimacy without graphic detail.
Violence: Moderate.

My Rating: ???1/2

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