Kyra’s survival on the streets of Forge stands on a knife’s edge. She’s constantly scraping for the coin to make ends meet. A talented thief-for-hire, she often works for dangerous clients. When one such client offers her a job too good to be true, Kyra’s tempted by his ability to protect her and by the pull of attraction she feels for him. But James quickly proves to be more than he claims, and Kyra finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the web of the Assassins Guild, and there may not be a way out alive.
Tristam serves as a Palace knight, defending against fearsome Demon Riders, warriors with giant cats who terrorize the people. When important documents begin inexplicably disappearing from the Palace, Tristam uncovers the identity of a thief who may be the best chance at bringing down the Assassins Guild. If he can convince her to betray them.
I’ve been curious about this book since before it came out. I started trying to read it once before, and just didn’t get hooked enough to continue. I must have been really tired or something, because this time when I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. Kyra’s character captured me from the first page. She’s too smart for her own good, with a soft heart and a deep loyalty to her friends. Loved her. I loved her best friend, Flick. I really wanted him or James to be the big romantic interest, but it was clear (because he has his own point-of-view) that Tristam was going to be the hero. He grew on me. At first he was too clean and neat and predictable.
The plot moved really quickly and I kept turning pages to see what would happen next. There were several revelations that I didn’t see coming. The resolution was satisfying but also left me eager to pick up the sequel. I liked that there were moments that turned my perceptions of characters and situation on their heads. I feel like that’s a pretty true-to-life experience (things not being what they initially seem), so I’m always interested when I find that in literature.
Would I pick up the second book in the series? Yes. I’m curious what happens next to Kyra, Tristam and their friends, but I’m not so desperate that I have to read it right now. I think it was a good book definitely worth reading. I think especially fans of Robin McKinley will enjoy this story.
There are a few hints that some women live as mistresses to knights or powerful men, and that perhaps that life comes with high costs. Tristam’s superior asks if he intends to take a mistress, but he says he will not.
Kyra joins a guild of assassins whose assignment grow steadily more brutal. She doesn’t want to kill anyone, but an accident wakens a hunger for violence in her that plagues her nightmares. She dreams about killing, choosing to kill. The scenes are brief but a bit disturbing. The barbarians who invade her city are fierce warriors who kill mercilessly. Giant cats kill and devour villagers or soldiers in a couple of brief scenes. There are some gory or intense descriptions.
Kyra learns about the use of poisons from her time in the Assassins Guild.