book review

Review: Allies and Assassins

Justin Somper - Allies and Assassins

They killed his brother. Now they’re coming for him. . .

As the second prince of Archenfield, Jared never expected to rule. But behind the walls of the castle is a dark and dangerous court where murder and intrigue are never far below the surface. 

Now his older brother is dead. The kingdom is his. And the target is on his back. Can he find the assassin before the assassin finds him?

Until I saw this in the library, I’d never really heard of it. However, the title caught my eye at once because, well, assassins. How on earth could I not pick it up? So, yes, assassins were basically the reason why I decided to read this book. And I’m really glad that I did read it, although assassins didn’t make much of an appearance. If you’re looking for a book with lots of badass assassins, this is not the book for you. On the other hand, if you fancy a fantasy murder mystery with fun characters, you should definitely read it, because that’s exactly what it felt like to me.

This book takes place as the the people of Archenfeld hear about the death of Prince Anders (who is basically their King). His brother, Jared, takes the role of Prince and is desperate to find out who assassinated his brother. There are lots of suspicious characters, lots of false trails and a lot of mysteries to be solved. Right from the start, it has the feel of a murder mystery – the only difference from a classic mystery is the fact that it’s in a fantasy land. I really liked that part of the book, but I did have mixed feelings over all.

This book doesn’t have the best world building. I don’t really feel that I know the world outside the caste that Jared lives in. To be honest, I didn’t really know the castle that well after finishing the book. There were lots of things that I wanted to more about, such as the very important Council of Twelve. The Prince has a council who helps him rule, but it has the strangest set up. There are twelve members who each have positions, and I understood the reasons behind some of the positions, such as the Captain of the Guard and the Poet (he writes speeches and organizes stuff). However, I’m not so sure what a Beekeeper is doing on the council that rules the country.

On the other hand, I loved the characterization in this book. All of the characters are very unique and interesting, and I really got to feel like I knew a lot of them quite well even though there was such a huge cast. One of my favourites was the executioner, a man who loves books as much as his axes. Of course, I also really enjoyed reading about the main character, Prince Jared. He develops a lot over the course of the book as he discovers more about his brother’s life and how much work he used to do for the kingdom. He’s an interesting guy who’s ready to solve the mystery himself without leaving all the work to the people around him.

My favourite character though was Asta, the physician’s niece and his apprentice. I suppose she was a sort of love interest, but nothing much happened on that front, which was so nice in a YA book. She’s a really inquisitive girl who wants to learn and who wants to help other people. I just really liked the fact that she would openly disagree with people if she thought they were wrong about something, and she also accepted the fact that she did make stupid decisions sometimes.

All in all, this book surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. And I certainly didn’t guess the murderer. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in fantasy or murder mysteries.

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