Published: 1st April 2016
Author: Simon Corn
Alara has only one choice to make, kill or be killed. Assassins are waiting in every shadow and she needs to finish in the top five in her class or she will be retired to the mines with the rest of the failures. Lord Osari, the most deadly assassin in city has chosen her as his apprentice and she intends to live up to his standards, no matter the cost. But when Lord Osari goes missing in action, Alara finds herself alone in a nest of young assassins, and with no one to trust she will have to retire them all and rescue her Lord by herself. After all, assassins have no friends. Her story takes her on a roller-coaster journey where she finds both good and evil lurking in the hallways of the rich and powerful families and three mythical dragon statues that hold everything together. But where there’s power there’s politics and with politics there’s greed and in the middle of it all stands the Assassin’s Guild, The Killing Grounds!
An interesting fantasy thriller read that is going to keep you guessing throughout, especially when it throws in a few twists and turns along the way.
The world changed after the ABC wars, which affected the Poles, shifting them so it changed how the world, and everything in it, worked. Holes in ozone layers appeared, magnetic waves started altering satellites, TV, Internet, radio and even animal populations who used them to survive suffered. Everything was thrown into chaos. These changes however brought with them gifts, something happened to the people who survived – they started to get powers, magic – they became Artists. A gift or a curse? There are always two sides to everything.
Now in this new world if you do something wrong you are retired to the mines. Retired as in dead to be brought back to work. Well for some anyway, others I’m guessing would just stay dead. This would be the job of an Assassin. Osari, a high level Guild Assassin, knows trouble is brewing and it starts with the arrival of Alara, his new spotter – someone who has to see the kill so he can get paid. She might have gone to him to be his new spotter but it seems he wants her to be his apprentice instead. Something to do with a tale long told to him about how he may have to rely on a stranger with certain gifts. Training begins at the Killing Grounds, where not everything is as it seems.
Now the Quartermaster at the Killing Grounds is someone you don’t want to mess with. He is the person that bounties of people to be taken out go to, all having committed a crime of some sort. He also seems to be a powerful Artist – side note mind tricks can be painful so Alara better watch out. He has some sound advice for when she starts training, inside the walls she’s safe but out she’s fair game. Every other apprentice in the Killing Grounds is an enemy and would try to kill her first chance they get. She needs to watch her back with the path she has chosen. This training school is a bit different with how you pass. It’s large at 32 and with the instructors wanting it to be cut down quick things are about to get dicey. Only top 5 will go into the Guild to become Assassins, so to get there a lot of others are going to need to go and by go I mean gone for good.
Now this is one class you don’t really want to be making friends. Gideon seems pleasant enough but whether he’s friend or foe only time will tell. He is the A1 for the group, top of the class. Black, A2, is very standoffish but could come in handy when trouble arises. They definitely have a bit of a rivalry complex with each other. There are only 3 other girls for Alara to contend with, Lucinda being the only one of note to worry about.
Training is hard enough but when word comes of Lord Osari’s early retirement Alara she knows she needs to watch her back, as danger might be coming from more than just her classmates. She might be catching up in the credits to go up in rankings but still has a way to go. When the council send members to ask questions about who could have retired Lord Osari, as it might be someone from her class, she knows she needs to find out too. She starts by finding his death stone within the Assassins vault. Each apprentice gets one, half to stay with you and the other for the vault, and only when you have been retired will it die. When she sees his still have life in it she knows he has been taken. She just needs to figure out by whom, how to get him back and how it’s linked to her. Is there anyone she can trust to help? Something has been set in motion; she just needs to figure out what before the danger gets too close.
Alara, Black and Lucinda are a team to be reckoned with. But are they really ready? Graduation is deadly but what follows is about to get worse. A twist at the end you won’t see coming. Whose side will our 3 assassins fall on and who really has Lord Osari? Answers entwined in this fast paced thriller read.
4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.