Knight Assassin by Rima Jean #BookReview

Title: Knight Assassin
Author: Rima Jean
Series: Standalone
Published: March 4th 2014 by Entangled: Teen
Genres:  YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Source: eArc

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Historical fiction, Assassin's, some paranormal elements and a dash of romance. That’s how I would describe Knight Assassin by Rima Jean. Despite some pacing issues I really enjoyed the book.

Zayn is an amazing character to me. She goes through so much in the beginning of the book from being hated by the townsfolk, to what happens to her mother and to her. I have to say at one point my mouth fell open. After that she becomes awakened and fueled by the need for vengeance which is what leads her into the den of assassins and training to become one. I liked that she does a little self-discovery and her task and motivations change as the story progresses. We definitely see growth in Zayn as the book continues. As a woman she is oppressed in so many ways and yet she manages to rise above it.

I really enjoyed some the side characters. Especially Junaid, Earic and Marguerite. I think they definitely added to the story. I like a book that has good support like this. You are not solely invested in the MC and you want the other characters to end up fortunate in the end as well.

I admit I don’t know much about this part of the hemisphere during this era or the culture. Taking place in Syria under French rule. Zayn describes it as they are all serfs to the Franks. So it was very interesting to me in that respect. I don’t know what proper Islamic rituals are and things because religion does come to play a lot in this book. Especially concerning Zayn’s talents plus I think a lot of cultures are rooted in religion. So I enjoyed experiencing something that I don’t know well. I was trying to keep the terms straight in my head sometimes though. Okay so he is Saxon and she is Muslim/Saracen and that guy is...wait what was he. I liked when I’m in uncharted territory in a book. Where it peaks my interest enough that I start to look things up. Which is what this book did. There is also a handy map at the end. I’m like oh the Crusades makes sense even though I still didn’t know much.

The pacing of the story was not quite right for me. I enjoyed the plot and what it entailed but I felt that once Zayn was at the palace everything felt rushed. We spent so much time with her training but then the actual mission just seemed to happen too fast. It was like getting to a museum and finally making it the exhibit you really want to see and then you find out the museum is closing in ten minutes. I didn’t want less of this part of the book I wanted more or maybe have the passage of time in Marguerites court be longer. Towards the end of the book the pacing evened out again.

The story also mixes some of the present day with flashbacks of the past. In order for you to build a clearer picture of Zayn’s relationships with both her mother and Earic. As well as where she comes from. I really liked the reveals of the origin of Zayn’s power. I don’t want to give it away but I was happy with how it played out.

If you are fan of Grave Mercy (which I was) this a good book for you as well. It has somewhat similar theme of a woman assassin in an era where women are looked down. Although at times the pacing didn’t feel right for me. I really enjoyed the plot and the characters.