Assassin's Heart

Sarah Ahiers
With shades of Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a tale of love, lies, and vengeance. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson will devour the flawlessly crafted action and inventive world building.Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero who lawfully take lives for a price. As a member of the highest-ranking clan, loyalty to Family is valued above all, but that doesn't stop Lea from getting into a secret relationship with Val Da Via, a boy from a rival clan. Despite her better judgment, Lea has fallen in love with him; but she's confident she can anticipate any threat a mile away.Then she awakens one night to a house full of smoke. Although she narrowly escapes, she isn't able to save her Family as their home is consumed by flames. With horror, she realizes that Val and his Family are the only ones who could be responsible. Devastated over his betrayal and the loss of her clan, there's just one thing on her mind: making the Da Vias pay. The heart of this assassin craves revenge.


Reviewed: 2018-01-25
In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down. Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

An assassin story set in a fantasy Mafia-like world, Assassin's Heart begins with Lea Saldana living the privileged life of a clipper belonging to the First Family of her kingdom, Lovera. She is badass, but faithful to the Goddess, Safraella, who is of Murder and Resurrection. The lands are plagued with restless and dangerous lost spirits and only the protection of a God, or strong stone walls can give some semblance of safety. When she is betrayed and her family is slaughtered, she vows revenge, in the name of her Goddess, as well as for herself. She goes on the run to seek help, and living in another kingdom, she experiences hardships unbeknownst to her before, as well as the true meaning of family.

While the story is mainly about Lea and her revenge, the mythology is interesting. Normally, gods are of elements, some garden variety virtues, but the gods in this world are..strange, to say the least. There is the god of murder and resurrection, the god of agriculture and debts (?), and one for the light. There might be more, but what mainly matters, as of this book, is Safraella. It seems clippers was an interesting choice of word for the assassins, because they are like reapers, who ensure the souls go peacefully into the afterlife. So, while the assassin plot has a lot of action and stuff, plus romance thanks to Les, there is also an interesting mythology and culture of the kingdoms, which I hope will be explored further in upcoming books.

The writing was reasonably good, for me. The action scenes were drawn out and bland, and I would have loved more detailing when it came to the world. This is an assassin story - there should be excitement, thrill! Some actions of the characters made little sense to the plot, and as a whole, it didn't seem to add up well enough. However, I do think it is an interesting start. 3.5 stars.
Reviewed: 2016-12-30

Assassin’s Heart is set in the kingdom of Lovero, where nine families of assassins kill people in the name of their goddess Safraella. “Clippers” as they are called, are respected by the commoners because their coins at the time of death are the only way Safrella will grant resurrection into the next life. If you die without her coin you will become a ghost and be lost forever. Our main character, Lea Saldana, is a highly skilled member of the Saldana family, the number one ranked family of assassins, until the day she wakes up to her house in flames and her entire family dead. Who is responsible? The Da Via family. Rivals to her own family, as they are the second family, and to whom her secret lover Val belongs to. Upon learning of Val’s betrayal, Lea vows to kill every last Da Via for this crime and thus sets out on a journey to find vengeance.

“I’d gotten my Family killed because I’d loved a boy in secret who used that love to destroy me.”

First let’s talk about the things I liked. I really liked the overall plot. It did start off very slow and took me about 200 pages to really see the gears moving, but once they did I loved it. The world building was really great. In his world gods and ghosts are real. Lea traveled to a lot of placed and I really liked seeing the different kinds of places she went because each place had a different tone and feel. I could really picture this world. I loved reading about all the political maneuvers between the assassin families, as well as the religious aspects. It was quite fascinating. There were many fight scene’s in this book that were great. I usually don’t like when there are too many fight scenes because they can get boring but they were all fun and made sense.

Lea as a main character was just okay. I didn’t love her and I didn’t hate her. I just didn’t really find anything about her to connect with. Which is strange because since she lost her entire family in a matter of a few minutes you’d think I would have had some emotional pull to her but nope. As an assassin she was very up and down for me. The first half of the book I thought she was a great assassin. There was one particular fight scene in the first half that had me really rooting for her because she was a total badass. But then we get to the second half of the book and I felt like there was kind of a disconnect between who she was at the start of the book and who she was in the latter half. And it didn’t make sense to me. She started making really dumb mistakes that an assassin of her caliber wouldn’t make. And it seemed like she was always getting tripped up by something. I just had a hard time believing she was as good of an assassin as everyone in the book kept saying she was.

As for the antagonists, I really didn’t like Val. Even in the beginning. He just screamed fuckboy to me and every time he opened his mouth I was rolling my eyes. Then we have Lafevre, the really annoying police type character, who is literally waiting around every corner to scream “I GOT YOU NOW!” Seriously. Every time Lea is in a sticky situation and then manages to get out of it, BAM, there’s Lafevre waiting to be a douche. I didn’t like him as a villain or a character. He was just annoying and was just there to be a nuisance.

Even though there were a lot of things I disliked about this book, I really had fun while reading it, and the rich world-building made up for the lack of character development. I could really see this being a companion series, because this story wrapped up at the end but the world is so big and there seems to be more stories to tell. So I definitely look forward to that!
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