Seventeen-year-old Zayn has special powers she cannot control—powers that others fear and covet. Powers that cause the Templar Knights to burn Zayn’s mother at the stake for witchcraft. When a mysterious stranger tempts Zayn to become the first female member of the heretical Assassins, the chance to seek her revenge lures her in. She trains to harness her supernatural strength and agility, and then enters the King of Jerusalem’s court in disguise with the assignment to assassinate Guy de Molay, her mother’s condemner. But once there, she discovers Earic Goodwin, the childhood friend who still holds her heart, among the knights—and his ocean-blue eyes don’t miss a thing. Will vengeance be worth the life of the one love she has left?
Knight Assassin is set in the Mid-East, around the time of the Crusades (a guess), a time where religion was a major issue for war (it still is, but that’s a topic for another day). The protagonist, Zayn is a muslim girl living in a Syrian village that is under the control of a Christian lord. As expected, people are classified according to their religion, but what is worse for Zayn is that her own villagefolk despise her, because she was born out of wedlock and because they suspect her to be demon spawn (no, seriously, they accuse her mother of being a witch). When tragedy strikes and she has nothing left, a Faithful One (one of the Assassin’s top dudes) comes to recruit her. With revenge on the agenda, she agrees, hoping to kill off the man who broke her down. Her first assignment takes her into the heart of the court, where she makes a meaningful friendship in Marguerite, and learns that sometimes your loyalty has to be to your heart and not to a sect.
The plot is very much political, with a dash of magic thrown in. Zayn is this fierce girl who is held down by a religion she doesn’t even believe in. Her longing for freedom and independence makes her the first female Assassin. It isn’t an easy journey for her, with her despising her femininity and seeing enmity all around her. Her story is beautiful in the way she grows out of her negative emotions, despite her tragic life. Earic was quite an interesting character, and I really hoped more was said about his past. I know the focus was on Zayn but a little more of his backstory would have enriched the story.
The writing is so eloquent, and echoes the feel of that era well, flowing smoothly as the story progresses. However, the ending kind of dampened the book a little – it was not so much as how the story ended but more about how it was written. There is a distinct shift in the writing style which makes it seem rushed – it seemed a bit out of place. The reveals at the end also didn’t make sense fully, but was sort of okay. I would point out that fans of Throne of Glass series would love to enjoy this novel.
Received an ARC from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review