By: Livia Blackburne
Published: July 8, 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: ARC via publisher from Netgalley
(Goodreads / Amazon)
To Kyra, high walls and locked doors are not obstacles, but invitations. She specializes in nighttime raids, using her sharp senses and extraordinary agility to break into Forge's most well-guarded homes. When she meets James, the deadly but intriguing head of the Assassin's Guild, he makes her an enticing job offer: infiltrate the supposedly impenetrable Palace compound—the Fastkeep. The pay is good, and the challenge appealing. It's the perfect job for someone of her talents. But as Kyra establishes herself in the Guild, her "perfect job" starts to unravel. Her assignments become increasingly violent, putting Kyra in situations she'd thought she could avoid. Then Forge is attacked by Demon Riders—barbarians riding bloodthirsty wildcats—and Kyra suspects the Guild is to blame. When a failed mission lands Kyra in the Palace dungeons, she faces an impossible decision. If she cooperates with the authorities—including an intriguing knight named Tristam—against the Guild, James will kill her family, but if Kyra does nothing, she'll see Forge overrun by Demon Riders. As the city falls into chaos, Kyra uncovers a secret from her past—a forgotten link to the barbarian invaders that will test Kyra's loyalties and ultimately challenge the limits of her humanity.MY REVIEW:
This is a fantasy story about a girl named Kyra who has lived her life on the city streets as a gutter rat all her life. With no parents or family, and a past she doesn't remember, she survives by stealing what she needs from the rich. Her profession is a thief, because she's really good at it. She can climb higher than anyone else she knows, she can walk quieter than anyone else she knows, she prefers to the dark to light and taking risks is something she is used to on a daily basis. Kyra is courageous and a very likable heroin.
She meets James, who happens to be the head of the Assassin's Guild - something that is only rumored to still exist and he offers her money and protection if she will infiltrate the palace for information. Determined not to have to worry where she will get coin for her next meal or for her rent, and also to take care of 2 young girls who are also orphans, she agrees to the job. This job, however, has more strings attached than she realized. She thought she was hired for her thievery skills. James has something else in mind.
Though James quickly becomes one of the stories villains, I'm very intrigued by him and wonder if there's more than meets the eye with him. Why is he hardened the way he is? Could his actions not be justified just as Kyra's or Tristam's or the Councilmen's can - just all for various end results? What makes ones justification better than another?
The Assassin's Guild steal from the rich but they don't exactly give back to the poor. Sure they may sometimes help out those less fortunate but what they really do with what they steal is a mystery to Kyra. When it's too late she realizes what is really going on around her.
Meanwhile the story also follows a young knight named Tristam. He has made a vow to serve the city of Forge and care for its people. So when raids by what they call the Demon Riders - barbarians who ride giant cat beasts - begin to affect the farmers and their livestock on the outskirts of the city and the attacks grow bolder happening right in the city, he is in the thick of the battle and Kyra saves him from being killed. This is how they first meet, but later when they meet again it's under worse circumstances as Kyra is on an assignment from the Guild in the palace.
Allegiances are tested in this tale. The question of "who really are the bad guys?" is on both Kyra's mind and Tristam's. Maybe the Demon Riders are not who Kyra thought they were? Can the councilmen at the palace be trusted any more than the Assassin's Guild? Kyra is constantly facing threats, as well as those in authority wanting to use her abilities for their own gain. Things definitely get worse before they get better. Danger is always right around the corner.
There was something about James - his intensity of purpose and strength of personality - that could inspire a woman's loyalty despite the cost.
He was her jailer, and she was his prisoner. For the hundredth time, he told himself to remember that.
You need an earthquake to change the course of a river.
Final Rating - 3.5 stars
This post is part of the ARC Thursday feature on Words Fueled by Love.