Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Cons: opening felt a bit slow
When the newly trained assassin Amastan discovers a drum chief’s body hidden on a rooftop, he’s tasked with proving that his clan of assassins wasn’t responsible. But the unknown killer isn’t the only danger, as the unquieted jaani (souls) of the murdered are restless, not dissipating as they ought, and trying to possess new bodies. With few leads Amastan’s time is running out, even as he befriends the servant of the first victim and begins to feel love for the first time.
It took me a while to warm to Amastan. The first few chapters show how undecided and hesitant he is, trying to plan things to perfection. As his relationship with various characters grew, I started to like him a lot more. It was interesting seeing the assassin clan portrayed as merely helping the city get rid of bad people. It makes the concept and characters easier to sympathize with.
I was surprised Tamella, his trainer and head assassin, left him to solve the murder without any advice or consultation. I can understand that she couldn’t investigate things herself, but she had knowledge that would have aided Amastan. Instead she simply blamed him for not solving it fast enough despite his having no training in detective work.
The worldbuilding was really good. I did like that Amastan and the other assassin trainees had real jobs to pay bills and keep occupied around their secondary craft. I also liked that they actually worked at those jobs. Menna’s work with the elders, quieting jaani was interesting. The jaani themselves were cool and terrifying. I also liked seeing the healers dependent on water for their work, and how towards the end of the season that’s problematic as the desert city must ration it. Reading characters running across rooftops and down narrow alleys was entertaining.
While I figured out who the killer was fairly early, it was still interesting seeing the story unfold.
It was a fun, quick read.
This is the first book in a trilogy. The final volume, The Unconquered City, is out June 16th.