Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.
And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
Like most of you I got attracted to THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE by Cassandra Rose Clarke because of its cover and synopsis which is very much reminiscent of 1,001 Arabian Nights. Add assassins and pirates into the conversation and it's basically a promise from CRClarke that her latest novel is going to be unique and probably nothing most of us has ever read before.
In my case, I say she delivered on that promise as far as her world-building and unique mythology is concerned. Though there are no Djinns or flying carpets involved, CRClarke still managed to give us an authentic world where magic is king and all kinds of sorcery reigns supreme. Your elemental affinity doesn't matter, what's important is you know a little bit of magic for at least self-defense. Otherworldly beings with typhoon-grey eyes are up and about, ever ready to cause turmoil for anybody they fancy so charms and other protective magic is a must in Ananna and Naji's world.
Something nasty's obviously about to catch up to us, and you damn near running like that's not gonna help. - Ananna
Ananna is the seventeen year-old runaway bride and a daughter of one of the most prominent Pirate family betrothed to the son of an equally powerful Pirate family, Tarrin of the Hariri. Because of the shame she brought on Tarrin's family, they hired an Assassin, Naji, to kill her. A curious twist of fate had Ananna saving the life of Naji instead which bound the assassin to her. This unexpected turn of events had Naji indebted to Ananna and as reparation, Naji vowed to protect Ananna with his life. Not that Naji has much of a choice, as an assassin his mission is to kill Ananna and by failing to do so, an Impossible Curse, The Assassin's Curse, was cast upon them and should Naji fail to protect Ananna, he will feel the painful sting of the curse which can ultimately lead to his death.
"You have no idea what it's like," he said. "To look like me. To be what I am on top of that--people think I'm a monster." - Naji
Ananna is a delightful character to read, she's bullheaded and an expert badger at that. Those moments where she would incessantly poke and prod Naji are my favorite. She's determined to be her own person and her desire to be just that is admirable especially in a country where being a woman isn't as highly regarded as being a man. Naji is a tragic character in the making, his facial disfigurement is the source of his insecurities and I wonder what the story is behind that awful scar of his that inspires curious glances from people and had him looking at himself like a monster. However I feel that his character fell a head or two short from Ananna's sparkling personality. Several times Ananna saved his life and I find that a little odd given that he's supposed to be an Assassin and in this case, his occupation's reputation precedes him. In addition to this, Naji, to me, felt too quiet, meditative and mysterious to the point where his character felt blah to me in the end. If not for Ananna, THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE would've been a boring story.
Things started interesting towards the end where we find Ananna developing an amusing crush for the disfigured but brave Assassin and watching her mask her feelings and jealousy was pretty amusing. In the end we are left with riddles, one impossible curse and three impossible tasks similar to Hercules' Twelve Labors that hints at more hair-splitting misadventures between these two. I hope we'll find more about Naji in book 2, The Pirate's Wish, comes out next year. I sure want to know who this tender, blue-eyed assassin is.