Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.
And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
You can read an excerpt here.
This book just made me happy. THIS is the book I wanted Throne of Glass to be.
So going in I knew next to nothing about The Assassin’s Curse (beyond what I could guess from the cover), and I certainly never expected to fall head over heels in love with this story the way that I did – but wow did I ever. Seriously guys, this book is just FUN – it’s sheer high fantasy adventure (think Dawn Cook), with a pirate girl protagonist who is hilariously forthright, a story that never slows down – with everything from camel stealing to assassin thwarting to magical hi-jinks – and a very, very, subtle romantic runner. In other words, this book was practically made for me.
First off, Ananna, our leading lady, is just…wonderful. She’s cheeky and droll, competent and caring, and oh-so refreshingly non-angsty. Ananna is a girl who knows exactly what she wants – a ship to call her own – and watching her get tangled up by circumstance, namely in the form of one very deadly assassin named Naji, was just fantastic. Now I’ll admit the way Ananna and Naji linked up was a little hard for me to swallow at first – it’s very, VERY Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – but I loved, loved, loved watching their relationship slowly evolve from unwitting companions to allies to friends, to the point where Ananna eventually finds herself defending Naji, never mind that he once tried to kill her. Oh, it was all marvelous fun, and I loved Ananna dearly for how she stood up for herself and the people she cared about.
As for Naji himself, I’ll admit at the top of this story he did definitely lean a bit towards the Very Scary Assassin trope, but as the story progressed he bloomed wonderfully, and the personality behind the mask came to overpower the trope. I particularly loved seeing him from Ananna’s point of view, as she gradually puzzled and figured him out, and the way the friendship between Ananna and Naji very slowly and very, very gradually began to lopsidedly lean in a romantic direction was absolutely adorable, in a believable and 100% earned kind of way.
As for the plot, it just made for sheer entertainment – this is a story that bounces cheerfully from place to place, from discovery to discovery, all the while providing plenty of chases and sword and knife fights and danger. I particularly loved how the action continued to unfurl the world around it, expanding our vistas and introducing us to more and more of the setting, culture and magic. So while this story is light, no question (think Bloody Jack), it also definitely has enough substance to it to make for an utterly satisfying read – kind of like Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure tales. I really did just love this book’s sense of adventure, and I absolutely, positively can’t wait to see what happens next.
So in the end, The Assassin’s Curse turned out to be one of my favorite surprises of the year, and I closed the back cover grinning like a fool. Cassandra Rose Clarke has now catapulted her way onto my must-read list, and I’ll be the first in line for the next Ananna adventure. Seriously guys, this book is just FUN.
Byrt Grade: A
As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…
Clarke’s debut harkens back to the best in fantasy/adventure, offering rock-solid worldbuilding, satisfyingly perilous obstacles and a protagonist whose charismatic ’tude goes way beyond spunk. Ananna’s voice grabs readers from the beginning…her wry, agreeably foulmouthed (“Fuck me, they’re machines”) narration is equally smart and funny, incorporating both trenchant observations and frankly beautiful phrasing that never misses a step (“I hadn’t even recognized the hope for what it was until it got dragged away from me”). A ripsnorting series opener; may the sequels arrive soon.
This book is an absolutely entertaining, fun ride that swept me up onto the back of a stolen camel and never let me go. I finished it in one day and it was one of those completely pleasurable, huge-grin-on-my-face reading experiences.
I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun reading a book. I love sword and sorcery, and in The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke, both Ananna and Naji, the assassin, can both swing a sword and cast magic, though with varying degrees of skill and different areas of expertise. This is a non-stop adventure romp through deserts and up rivers and across the high seas that will not let you put the book down. I seriously read the book non-stop from beginning to end.