Prince Anders, the ruler of Archenfield, has been murdered, leaving his younger brother, Jared, to ascend the throne. Sixteen-year-old Jared feels unprepared to rule the kingdom and its powerful and dangerous court, yet he knows he can rely on the twelve officers of the court to advise him. He also knows he can just as easily be at their mercy-especially when it appears that one of them may be responsible for his brother’s death. Unable to trust anyone, Jared takes it upon himself to hunt down his brother’s killer-but the killer may be hunting him, as well. Murder, betrayal, and intrigue abound in Justin Somper’s thrilling YA series debut. Exploring the political machinations of the medieval court and the lives that hang in the balance, Allies & Assassins is a gripping tale of a teen torn between duty and revenge.
Set over the course of five days, ALLIES AND ASSASSINS is truly impressive. The world-building in this story is thought through to the very smallest detail and Somper does a great job of showing the reader the fantasy in his mind and the story of a boy who’s just trying to make it even though he’s surrounded by enemies. I was really impressed by this story and even though there are a ton of characters I grew to love many of them for their individuality and personalities.
One thing I wrestled with in this story was the author’s POV decision. I liked the way that the story was told from all different sides to the story, meaning that sometimes certain chapters were narrated by characters that weren’t really relevant to the story, characters that the reader only sees once–but Somper used them to show how intricate his plot was. At the same time, I think it weighed down the book and made the pacing slower.
Another thing–the themes. The themes are awesome. I loved how politically driven this book was. For fans of Jennifer A. Nielson’s The Shadow Throne, this book is the perfect thing to read after reading that trilogy. (Besides, Jared is really close to Jaron). It would also be great for fans of Robin LeFevers’s GRAVE MERCY. This book is not conquered by action and suspense, but rather it’s cleverness and intricacy. That isn’t to say that there isn’t fast-paced moments though, and even though this book had some boring parts, it was worth it.
Now for the characters. The characters were great here and I especially admired the way Sompers designed his two main characters. With ALLIES AND ASSASSINS, I was able to see Jared grow and change and become a better ruler with every move he had to take and all the insanity around him. I admired his character and I loved Asta as well. She was behind a lot of the cleverness to this story and helped to unravel a lot of deceit. In those ways, Asta and Jared did great jobs supporting the story and moving it forward.
I do hope that Sompers speeds up his story a little bit in the next book and focuses on pacing the story, but I really enjoyed this book and I hope that he doesn’t disappoint in the next book of this series. 4.5 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 496
Series: Enemies of the Prince