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Ananna is not exactly delighted about her parents’ plan to force her into marriage. To make matters worse, her betrothed is good-looking – Ananna does not trust good-looking people. In the end, she sees only one solution: she flees.
She did not expect her betrothed’s family to send an assassin after her, though, to make her pay for this insult. The young woman might know a lot about fighting, but there are powers in this world even the best sword can do nothing against. Desperately, she accepts the help of a complete stranger, but when she finally meets her pursuer, Naji, things get completely awry: she binds him to herself, and both do not like that at all. To find a way to separate them again is just as dangerous, and the situation does have its advantages: they still seek Ananna’s life and who would be more capable fighting an assassin than another one?
There are three things that become obvious on the very first pages. First, the book is written rather colloquial, which I welcomed here. In the world Ananna grew up in school is not the most important thing, only the most basic things are taught. If you can neither read nor write, you will have a very difficult time and will not get very far. Still, it would be ridiculous to expect Oxford English from Ananna; that particular woman says what she thinks and that is not always very polite. Except for some shortening such as “’course”, the text is orthographically speaking correct; everything else is at least bearable. So what if Ananna uses a double negation again? That is her and the text suits the person we get to know.
Second, Ananna is a total kickass. Besides speaking sarcasm fluently, she does what she deems necessary. If that means fleeing from a forced marriage on a stolen camel, then so be it. And even if she is angry with her – treacherous, as she says – parents, she is still their child and misses them and the life she had there. Like everybody else she has conflicting emotions, but does not let herself be swayed too much by them. She is willing to fight for her life and for the life of those she loves, which does neither mean that she does not make any mistakes nor that she can cope perfectly with everything that has to be done. She might be a pirate who has learned to steal and cheat from very early on, but she has a conscience, her pride and, yes, honour as well.
Next to her, Naji seems a little bit pale. I liked him at first, but could never fully relate to him. His part is actually the one often left for the female protagonists in many (not so good) YA novels: he has a traumatic past he has not come to terms with yet; he worries a lot about what he looks like, owns great power and makes the biggest mistakes. The nice thing about it is that it is the guy’s role for once. You should not give him up entirely; there are some interesting aspects about him and Ananna is diehard enough to make him see some sense. (With violence if all else fails, but that is another matter.)
Third, the story starts instantly. Without any introduction we follow the meeting of Ananna and her betrothed, and in the next moment she is on the run. I usually like such an approach; in this case it was a little bit unfortunate. Except for some memories, we barely get to know anything about her life as a pirate and the daughter of a captain. It is the same with Naji’s past, but it is not that bad as he is “only” the second main character. The book concentrates on the current adventures of those two and there is much to tell about those. Still, the story ends rather abruptly. If you expected the conflict to be solved in this book, you are mistaken – at the end, the pace gets really slow and before you know where you are, you turn over the last page – everything to be continued in the next book.
However, there is not much to be said against that as the interaction of the characters was marvellous, though I sometimes really wanted to punch Naji in the face, just as Ananna did. As I said: improvement is in sight, and it was a fun read even when the story slowed down a bit. Only one detail seemed to me to be exaggerated, but I admit that it might come to that if you experience that much together.
In “The Assassin’s Curse”, Cassandra Rose Clarke offers us a wonderful protagonist, a second main character with some potential and with both of them a lot of fun. The plot is quite thrilling most of the time and even when it slows down some, you will be perfectly entertained. It bothers me only a little bit that the books ends without a real solution to the problem, and the language is also something the author can be proud of – the next book cannot be published quickly enough!