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I Belong

Review: Allies and Assassins by Justin Somper

Allies and AssassinsTitleAllies and Assassins

AuthorJustin Somper

Genre: YA High Fantasy

Series: Allies and Assassins (Book #1)

Publication Date: May 27, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316253936 (LB Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0316253932 (LB Teen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


Sixteen-year-old Jared is the newly crowned Prince of All Archenfield, ascending the throne after his older brother’s mysterious death. But Jared feels reluctant and unprepared to rule the Princedom and its dangerous and powerful court. Like each Prince of All Archenfield before him, Jared must rely on the Council of Twelve to advise him. But he knows he can just as easily be at their mercy–especially when it appears that one of the Twelve might have orchestrated his brother’s untimely death. Propelled by his rage over the loss of his brother and wary of all his advisors, Jared can trust only Asta: a clever, strong-willed girl from the settlements, currently serving as the Physician’s apprentice. Asta and Jared take it upon themselves to hunt down his brother’s assassin–though the assassin may be hunting them, as well.

Quick & Dirty: This densely packed book didn’t give me the suspense nor tension that I expected; nevertheless, the writing was pretty and the characters complex.

Opening Sentence: The last of her seven falcons balanced on her wrist, Nova Chastain walked back out onto the balcony once more.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Archenfield’s leader has just been assassinated, plunging the kingdom into chaos. Suddenly, his Edling Jared is pushed into the spotlight, forced into a crown he’s not sure he’s ready for. Everyone expects something from him, and he doesn’t think he can satisfy everyone. Not only this, but they still must find his brother’s killer – the blood price must be paid. Asta Peck, the physician’s apprentice, is bright and curious, the perfect ally for Jared – or maybe more than an ally. As more and more people fall victim to murders, secret romances are revealed and new clues come to light, but will it be enough to bring the killer to justice once and for all? And even if they can, will Jared ever become the ruler his brother was and lead a whole kingdom to prosperity?

I read this in pieces. This book was five hundred pages. Given, I’ve read much bigger books, but this one had such thick description that it was incredibly dense. Reading one page felt like reading three, so it got hard to read this novel. First I got about halfway through, and then I couldn’t take it, and stopped for a few months. Then I read the rest later on in a few days. The problem wasn’t the length, it was really the lack of action and the absence of good tension that made it feel so dull. Luckily, this book did have something good going for it. The writing was beautiful, and enjoyable in its melodic flow; it was perfect for the high fantasy genre it was placed in.

The characters were also good in this novel as well. There is a lot of them, so you have to reference the little chart at the beginning quite a bit until you can get the hang of them all. One thing that Somper did that was cool to me was feature many different side character’s points of view. He probably gave around ten different characters their own chapters. You got to see a small but incredibly revealing glimpse into their thoughts, emotions, and turmoil in just a couple pages, and it definitely helped to understand the world and created empathy in readers.

Jared and Asta were a team in this novel. They worked together and Jared at some points thought that Asta was the only one he could trust. She was curious and thirsted for truth, and although Jared tried to keep her safely on the sidelines, eventually she was too immersed in the mystery to back out. There was this whole thing with “he’s a king, he can’t be a real friend” going on, but Jared didn’t give that an ounce of credit. Something super funny is that despite the obvious chemistry between the two, in five hundred pages they didn’t kiss once. Okay, I lied – but a peck on the cheek hardly counts as a kiss. I’m assuming something will happen in the next book. It must.

Altogether, I thought this book achieved certain facets such as the characters, writing style, and rich imagery. Other aspects, not so much. It failed in tension and suspense. I have heard, actually, that other people thought it had rich tension, but I couldn’t see it at all. It made the book feel incredibly long, longer than it needed to be. Nevertheless, I feel that certain people will enjoy the lush medieval setting and intrigue of the murder mystery, so go ahead and give it a try – but maybe pick it up from the library first, instead of buying it?

Notable Scene:

“What’s that you say, child?” Elin inquired of her.

Silva’s eyes had a new determination about them. “Anders lives on in me.”

“What exactly do you mean?”

Silva smiled sweetly but she did not answer with words. Instead, she simply raised a delicate hand and placed it apon her belly.

Allies and Assassins Series:

1. Allies and Assassins

2. A Conspiracy of Princes


FTC Advisory: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Allies and Assassins. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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