Friday, March 7, 2014

Knight Assassin by Rima Jean [ARC REVIEW]

TITLE: Knight Assassin
AUTHOR: Rima Jean
PUBLISHER: Entangled Publishing
PUB DATE: Mar 4 2014


Seventeen-year-old Zayn has special powers she cannot control—powers that others fear and covet. Powers that cause the Templar Knights to burn Zayn’s mother at the stake for witchcraft. When a mysterious stranger tempts Zayn to become the first female member of the heretical Assassins, the chance to seek her revenge lures her in. She trains to harness her supernatural strength and agility, and then enters the King of Jerusalem's court in disguise with the assignment to assassinate Guy de Molay, her mother’s condemner. But once there, she discovers Earic Goodwin, the childhood friend who still holds her heart, among the knights—and his ocean-blue eyes don’t miss a thing. Will vengeance be worth the life of the one love she has left?

- Source: Goodreads


Rating:




“It was all very simple. Her loyalties were with those who saw beyond their personal prejudices, who rose above self-righteousness and intolerance.”

I was mostly interested in Knight Assassin after reading on Netgalley that it was a “thrilling Grave Mercy meets Throne of Glass adventure...” I loved both when I read them and loved the second books belonging to their respective series, Dark Triumph and Crown of Midnight, even more. To be honest, I was apprehensive at first over reading that statement. Either it was a marketing strategy to get readers to give this book a shot; which mostly turns out to be just deceiving, or worse, a rip off of those. It wasn’t, thank goodness! I was being judgemental, I’m sorry. It’s not uncommon to be sceptical over such statements; some tend to oversell the books that readers having high expectations and being left disappointed in the end. Fortunately, Knight Assassin was able to live up to that. It has all the elements I’ve come to love from Grave Mercy and Throne of Glass: a kick-ass heroine with an empathizing past, a well thought-of storyline, an intriguing setting, action-packed fight scenes – all that awesomeness.

I wasn’t familiar with the events of the Crusades-era, other than snippets I snagged while trying out the Assassin’s Creed video games. Yes, I haven’t played the full games at all, I’m a horrible gamer. For the record, working in game design and animation doesn’t give you much playing time; unless you’re a game tester or critic but other than that, you wish! Anyway, being unacquainted with the historical events that Knight Assassin was based on did not hinder me from understanding and being drawn to Zayn’s story.

I didn’t notice the religious aspects involved in this book at first, and I’m glad I didn’t since I tend to stay away from books with such a sensitive topic. I have nothing against religion; nor am I saying that I’m an atheist (I’m a Roman Catholic, if you’re wondering). I just believe that a person’s relationship with God is solely his/her own business. I always believe that the more important thing to consider is not which religious group you belong to, but rather how it reflects the way you live your life. But enough about that, what I’m trying to point out here is that Zayn is a Muslim. And yet even with that, this book does not insinuate any religious beliefs but simply takes into perspective the rift between Christianity and Islam during the Crusades-era. So why did I point out Zayn’s religion? Simple – diversity. It’s not even her religion I’m trying to accentuate, but her ethnicity. It’s not often, in YA books (at least the ones I’ve read), that we find ourselves reading about a protagonist from a different culture. So, hooray for diversity!

You know when people say that you become more empathic when you read books? Well, I’m a lot worse, I guess. I’ve always been a “bleeding heart” before I became addicted – er, make that a lot more passionate – over reading books, so you could say I have a soft spot for Zayn. It broke my heart to see her violated by that scoundrel, Guy. Although, I have to admit that at some point she had her annoying moments, I can’t blame her for it either. Her outbursts and lack of emotional control make her more real. Also, I’m glad to see a character said to be an assassin that actually does her job. You know how some books portray an assassin protagonist but they don’t really kill anyone, and with all the goodness in their hearts blah-blah? I’m not morbid but Zayn’s disparity from them is one of the things I like about her. You should see how she takes her revenge. *snickers* No, I am not morbid. Okay, maybe a little.

I like to be well informed as best as I can. So as much as I enjoyed reading Knight Assassin, I noticed a few things that felt a bit iffy. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD) Let me voice out a few: (1) why did Zayn’s mother hide her father’s identity? Her father didn’t seem to be the dangerous kind, and if she’s trying to keep Zayn’s gift a secret, I don’t think knowing her father would have changed that (2) what is the history behind Zayn’s powers? Other than the story about Zayn’s mother, the jinn and magic elements in the story didn’t seem as essential as the summary let it out to be. The story could still be just as good even without the magic stuff. (3) The events that followed with Saladin seemed a little off. He was told to be a powerful man and yet it didn’t take Zayn that much to waltz into his territory and earn his trust, I’d be more suspicious and cautious if I were in his place. Just saying; (4) What happened to the threat on Earic’s life? He went back to the Templar’s, right? Where were the other assassins? If their reputation was as wicked as they ought to be, shouldn’t they have caused a bit more trouble for him?

Still, even with the questions I’m left with, I can’t deny that this has been a remarkable read. Offering diversity, a clear writing style and braving to show something new to the table – I greatly commend that, not to mention the attitude that Rima Jean has shown towards negative reviews about this book. This year, I have taken the habit of checking out author’s blogs before or during reading their books. I don’t know how that started or why I do it but I guess with all the drama of author-reviewer conflicts circulating from time to time on the blogosphere, I wanted to get to know the authors a lot more. I’m glad to see Rima being optimistic over the reviews and ratings being given to Knight Assassin. With that kind of outlook and the fact that my experience with Knight Assassin has been pleasurable, I would really like to see what else she could offer to the YA world.



*Thank you, Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for allowing me to view Knight Assassin.

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