I think this book is way more successful at emulating popular fantasies like ASOIAF than some other books that have been advertised as such – it blends history, politics and the fantastical into a very well-balanced story that is refreshingly different. Ismae, our main character, is both vulnerable and kickass; it’s easy to believe that while she is a trained assassin, she’s still a teenager with many unresolved issues and it makes her an interesting character. A lot of her conflict derives from the romantic subplot and I actually thought it gave an edge to what could have otherwise been a pretty generic romance because it raises the question of identity and freedom of choice. It’s even more intriguing considering that the author chose to set her story at a time when women had little to no freedom in their everyday lives, a fact Ismae learns very early on in the novel.
The romance itself was pretty good in the sense that it didn’t bore me. Ismae’s love interest is a generic brooding type, I don’t even remember his name so like *waves hand* Even so, the slow build up of their romance is effective because then every touch and word feels earned. Ngl every time their hands made with the touching I felt emotions. I do like how the story resolves their relationship because all throughout it is about Ismae choosing her own path.
I liked so much about this novel – I love historical fiction and stories about women; this book is both and I loved it. I will say this though – the kind of story the author weaves in this book works because it’s different but I don’t think the next book in the series because it feels too much like a rinse and repeat of the same story.