Review: Assassin’s Gambit by Amy Raby (Hearts and Thrones #1)


Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby // VBC ReviewAssassins Gambit (Hearts and Thrones #1)
Amy Raby
Published: April 2, 2013 (Signet)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Amanda

Rating (out of 5): 3 stars

Vitala Salonius is an assassin in the Obsidian Circle. She’s trained for years for her mission: kill Lucien, the Emperor of Kjall. After winning a prestigious Caturanga tournament, she gets her chance.

But what she thought would be relatively easy turns out to be exceedingly complicated. To kill Lucien, she needs to seduce him first. To seduce him, she needs to get close to him. When she finally does, she hesitates. The more she gets to know him, the more she wants to know—and the more she likes him.

Their time together takes a dangerous turn when someone stages a power grab and claims the throne. Now instead of killing him, Vitala’s goal is to keep him alive…and out of her heart.

Assassins Gambit was a fast read. The world building is detailed and nuanced without being overwhelming. Amy Raby has a way of explaining the little bits and rules that make up Kjall and its empire that stick with you and don’t stick out. The use of the game (Caturanga) to strategize battles and bring Vitala and Lucien closer together was a fun and entertaining choice.

I wish Vitala had been harder. She was competent, capable of remaining cool under pressure. Her hurt and anger over how she’d been treated most of her life tugs at the heartstrings, but she never let it get her down for long. I had a difficult time believing she would have gone through with the attempt on Lucien’s life, though. For all her knowledge and skill, she seemed too naïve, which made it harder to buy her developing feelings for Lucien. Sometimes it felt like she was simply looking for an excuse not to kill him.

Lucien…Lucien was awesome. I loved his cleverness and his patience. Despite his disability (he’s missing part of his leg), it’s a rare moment that it becomes an issue. He’s willing to listen to Vitala and gives her ideas real thought, considering them in the same manner he would if they were presented by any of the commanders in his army.

While the final conflict is tense and tightly paced, I felt it was over too quickly. Raby tries to cover a lot of ground in a single book, and for the most part, she succeeds. And I cheered Vitala’s role in the resolution. What disappointed me was that it was resolved in the first place. When you’ve got that much instability and dissension, it needs to play itself out, and I didn’t get that with Assassins Gambit.

If you like fantasy romance and love a good beta hero, Assassins Gambit is a good bet.

Sexual content: sex

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