Assassin heroine + Amputee hero = Unique, action-packed fantasy romance
I’m just tickled to death to post my review of Amy Raby’s debut release, Assassin’s Gambit today. Not only is this the bestest example of fantasy romance I have ever read, but I think it’s so awesome that it will spark new interest in an emerging genre, Epic Fantasy Romance. I’m not just saying that because she’s one of my amazing critique partners, either. This lady is truly an extraordinary writer, and I’m honored to be able to watch her dab frosting from the corner of her mouth each week.
But enough about Amy and her cupcake eating. Let’s dish about the book! Assassin’s Gambit delivers a perfect, high-stakes story of clashing empires along with a love story so tender and realistic it left me breathless.
First, the world-building. Amy Raby is a debut author, but her exceptional economy of words is on par with the pros of fantasy writing. It amazes me how efficiently yet vividly she breathes life into a unique magic system and a lush and varied backdrop of warring fantasy nations. There’s even a fascinating chess-like game called Caturanga that adds dimension and fun to the story. It takes talent to describe so much without slowing pacing one iota. For her world-building alone, Amy wins my undying reader loyalty, but that’s just the beginning.
While sending her characters, amputee emperor Lucien Florian Nigellus and rebel assassin Vitala Salonius on a journey that will dictate the fate of nations, Amy develops a love story that bravely faces the emotional and mental damages left in the wake of horrendous battle injury and sexual trauma. The touchiness of the subject matter could easily turn the story dark, but Raby infuses this powerful tale with light and hope. The happy ending was hard won, well deserved by the characters, and is one I won’t soon forget.
Fans of epic fantasy, historical romance, and fantasy romance will all find much to love in Assassin’s Gambit. The best news of all, Amy’s got 2 more books lined up for this series. I’ve already got Spy’s Honor on preoder.
Zip on over to Amy’s blog to read more about her works and the fascinating research she puts in to make everything she does feel so authentic. If you haven’t already bought Assassin’s Gambit, pop on over to your favorite eretailer and get your copy now (cover image above brings you to Amazon). Or run to Barnes & Noble and pick it up in paperback. I’ll wait.
Now that you’re back, here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:
Then she lifted her eyes to a table at the far end of the room, where a man sat before a Caturanga board. Emperor Lucien. She’d spent so many years studying this man and plotting to kill him that she felt a perverse and unwelcome intimacy with him. Having only a rough description of what he looked like, she’d constructed a mental image, which she saw was accurate in the broad strokes but wrong in all the details.–Kindle Locations 319-322.
Lucien hovered over the board like a spring, tightly coiled and ready to explode into action. His eyes darted over every space, concerned and calculating, and when she made a good move, his cheeks flushed.–Kindle Locations 365-366.
Lucien was a strategic sacrifice, like the Tribune she’d offered up as bait during the first Caturanga game. If killing him meant more nightmares for her, more visions, so be it. He wasn’t the only strategic sacrifice in this game.–Kindle Locations 697-698.
“Aren’t you cold?” he asked.
“Extremely.” She rubbed her arms. “Aren’t you going to offer me a warm place to sleep?”
Wordlessly, he opened his bedroll.
She slipped into the snug space. Lucien wrapped his arms about her, entangled her legs in his, and closed the bedroll except for one small corner, leaving them in total darkness. “Better?”
“Let’s see what I can do about that.”–Kindle Locations 2143-2148.