This book is actually a 2 for 1, with two smaller books around 200 pages each put into one larger volume – sort of like Riyria if you’ve read that.
I’m not sure if this is self published or not, I looked up the publisher info on the back and it said “Saga Press” and I looked that up and said it was an “Imprint of Simon and Schuster” – I have no idea what that means.
Anyway, onto the review!
I picked up this book for r/fantasy’s book bingo challenge for Seafaring. I’m actually doing multiple bingo cards this year, one for “regular” bingo, one women authored, one indie authored, and one from non western authors. We’ll see if I can complete that challenge!
As it turns out this book would also count for the desert square!
When I first opened the book and started to read I was really annoyed. I have a thing for double negatives, and the word “ain’t”. I can’t stand double negatives and the main character is just dropping them left and right. She speaks like a pirate because she IS a pirate. After about 10-12 pages I adjusted a little bit and then by 30-40 pages in I was able to ignore it for the most part. What sucks is that each time I picked it up again I had to go through that process again, I’m a little ridiculous sometimes.
Outside of the dialogue though I was really enjoying this book, the world was very well built, consistent, and realized. The main character isn’t overly likeable because she’s sort of ornery, but she grows on you, or at least she did for me. She’s a 17-18 year old girl who was going to be married off, but didn’t want to and ran from her pre-arranged marriage and escaped into a city in the desert.
So here’s this pirate girl trying to survive in a desert, in a city that’s not that familiar to her, with no money and assassins after her.
In this world assassin has a double meaning. One is the regular term, some man/woman hired to kill someone. The other meaning is a person who wields blood magic who’s been hired to kill you, one is significantly more dangerous and it’s all but unknown for someone to be able to survive that kind of hit placed on their head.
Pirates don’t like being humiliated, and they really don’t like when another pirate goes back on their deal. So when Ananna runs from her marriage, the family she was going to marrying into takes offense and hires the blood-magic assassin to kill her.
Ananna grows on me through the book as she gets more developed.
There’s a romance in this book I didn’t entirely hate. That’s actually praise coming from me, it’s super rare when I don’t get annoyed by a romance in a book. I think the main characters ornery-ness reminded me a bit of Granny falling in love, hating it and thinking it’s stupid. Maybe that’s why I liked it.
Kaji is a very interesting character and I liked him a lot, more so than the main character actually. This book is single POV but you could easily say there are two main characters, wherever Ananna goes, Kaji goes too. They have been bound together by magic for better or worse after she saves his life.
There isn’t a large cast, there are some supporting characters, but mostly this is a story about two people and such a narrow focus allowed for nice character development.
In this world there are multiple sources of magic, and they are used for different sorts of spells/potions. I really liked this magic even though typically I prefer magic systems. The mysteriousness of it was really well done. There’s “dirt magic” “blood magic” “sea magic” “river magic” etc etc. You can combine them if you know how to create all sorts of shit. Kaji is far more knowledgeable about magic than Ananna is, and even though Ananna has shown some signs she could be a magic user, for the most part she considers herself a “none” and relies on Kaji, she prefers her sword over magic.
This book managed to cover a lot of the ground of the world as well, the pirates that hired the assassin makes for a good reason not to stick around in one place for too long, we get to see a fair amount of the world both on land and at sea. Magic islands, ocean craziness, deserts, port cities etc.
I would rate Assassins Curse as a 3.75, and the second Pirates Wish as a 4.25, rounding out to a nice 4.
I’ve marked the next in the series as TBR on goodreads, and it should be published sometimes in October of this year. I was actually kind of disappointed I couldn’t continue on reading.