Allies & Assassins

( 3 )

Overview


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 ...
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Overview


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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/03/2014
Somper (the Vampirates books) launches his first series for teens, in which a 16-year-old prince takes the throne after his older brother is assassinated. Before Jared can be crowned prince of Archenfeld, he and his court must track down Prince Anders’s killer and exact justice. Though they swiftly find their chief suspect, questions remain; Asta, the Physician’s apprentice, believes the true murderer is still on the loose. As other bodies turn up, Jared and Asta navigate a complex web of political intrigue where anyone might be a killer and a traitor. Drawing on premedieval Welsh courts for inspiration, Somper breathes life into the inner workings of his fantasy kingdom, which feels like a lost European territory. The cast is sprawling and complicated; some characters all but fade into the background while others practically chew the scenery. With its focus on forensics investigation and suspense, this is both political thriller and royal drama. Though the story takes place over just a few days, the pacing is slow, but the underlying story is solid and entertaining. Ages 12–up. Agent: Philippa Milnes-Smith, LAW, Ltd. (May)
From the Publisher

Praise for Allies & Assassins:


"Drawing on premedieval Welsh courts for inspiration, Somper breathes life into the inner workings of his fantasy kingdom...With its focus on forensics investigation and suspense, this is both political thriller and royal drama...Solid and entertaining."

Publishers Weekly

"From the first page of this hefty volume, the Princedom of Archenfield is plunged into mystery, danger, and intrigue...Somper manages to keep the mystery alive with many red herrings, surprises, and plot twists, while deftly setting up the scenario for a sequel. Fans of medieval adventure, murder mysteries, and romance will all find something to like here, and readers will eagerly await the continuation of the this engrossing saga."—School Library Journal

"...Those who like the mechanics of forensic detective work will enjoy watching Asta and Jared attempt to logically and scientifically solve the crimes, unknowingly hampered by their lack of modern equipment and know-how. Both teens fight to be taken seriously, and their friendship is a solid component of the story, balancing the huge cast of characters. A cliff-hanger ending will leave readers wanting more."—Booklist

VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Diane Colson
At sixteen years of age, kindhearted Jared is ill prepared to rule a kingdom. But that is exactly what he gets after his older brother, Anders, is poisoned. Prince Jared inherits both the crown and the mystery of his brother’s death. Jared soon realizes that many intrigues were hidden by the guise of Anders’s so-called peaceful rule. One obvious antagonist is Jared’s cousin, Axel, captain of the guard. Rough and lordly, Axel makes it no secret that he believes himself to be the better leader. A killer is soon in custody, and a feisty girl named Asta, the physician’s apprentice, is sure that they have imprisoned the wrong guy. She becomes Jared’s trusted ally as they continue the investigation. Somper adopts a leisurely pace, presumably so there is time to cast suspicion on all possible suspects. Mystery lovers will be delighted to uncover enough red herrings for a fish fry. On the other hand, readers looking for the swashbuckling adventure of the Vampirates series may find that the story unfolds too slowly. Now that the large cast is in place, however, subsequent volumes of the series can pick up steam as Prince Jared faces those who wish to dethrone him. This may be cause for comparison with Game of Thrones; Prince Jared is sure to face plenty of political intrigue in the volumes ahead. Reviewer: Diane Colson; Ages 11 to 15.
School Library Journal
04/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—From the first page of this hefty volume, the Princedom of Archenfield is plunged into mystery, danger, and intrigue. Prince Anders, who has ruled the kingdom through just two peaceful years, has been found dead, and his 16-year-old brother Jared has automatically become Prince of All Archenfield. Though he is clever and kind, Jared is not prepared to assume the crown. Luckily, he has the Twelve; officers of the court whose job is to advise, teach, and protect him. But can Jared trust them? In the few days before his brother's funeral and his own coronation, Jared and the clever young Physician's Apprentice, Asta, investigate the mystery of Ander's murder, keenly aware that the murderer may be targeting Jared as well. As more victims are claimed, the mismatched young couple uncover lies, secret love affairs, and more suspects than they had expected. Though some of the hints seem obvious, Somper manages to keep the mystery alive with many red herrings, surprises, and plot twists, while deftly setting up the scenario for a sequel. Fans of medieval adventure, murder mysteries, and romance will all find something to like here, and readers will eagerly await the continuation of the this engrossing saga.—MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-17
Following the murder of his brother, Prince Anders, Jared must not only assume the throne as ruler of all Archenfield, but take on the role of investigator into the crime. As he's only 16, it is lucky for Jared that he has the Council of The Twelve to guide him in his decisions. Unfortunately, he quickly learns that not all is as it seems in the kingdom. Lust for power, unrequited love and personal vendettas make it difficult for Jared to know whom to trust. So when Asta Peck, the Physician's niece and apprentice, begins her own inquiry, he is relieved to find that he is not the only one seeking the truth. Their investigation is complicated by the death of the prince's consort and her unborn child and the attempted murder of the Falconer. It is clear that the killer is ruthless, but his or her motivation and identity remain hidden. While the mystery is suspenseful, a lack of sensory detail keeps the fantastic setting vague, despite ornate, medieval-esque trappings. The over-large cast is often unwieldy, keeping the individual characters undefined and forcing readers to the Archenfield family tree and list of officers at the front. Still, there's a lot going on, and readers caught up in the plot will probably want to find out what happens next. Here's hoping they'll be rewarded with more depth and color in the sequels to come. (Adventure. 12-16)
From the Publisher

Praise for Allies & Assassins:

"Drawing on premedieval Welsh courts for inspiration, Somper breathes life into the inner workings of his fantasy kingdom....With its focus on forensics investigation and suspense, this is both political thriller and royal drama....Solid and entertaining."—Publishers Weekly

"From the first page of this hefty volume, the Princedom of Archenfield is plunged into mystery, danger, and intrigue....Somper manages to keep the mystery alive with many red herrings, surprises, and plot twists, while deftly setting up the scenario for a sequel. Fans of medieval adventure, murder mysteries, and romance will all find something to like here, and readers will eagerly await the continuation of the this engrossing saga."—School Library Journal

"....Those who like the mechanics of forensic detective work will enjoy watching Asta and Jared attempt to logically and scientifically solve the crimes, unknowingly hampered by their lack of modern equipment and know-how. Both teens fight to be taken seriously, and their friendship is a solid component of the story, balancing the huge cast of characters. A cliff-hanger ending will leave readers wanting more."—Booklist

"Mystery lovers will be delighted...Prince Jared is sure to face plenty of political intrigue....This may be cause for comparison with Game of Thrones."VOYA

"...A complex mix of infidelity, betrayals, political intrigue, and a hint of romance...the period atmosphere and adventure...provide Game of Thrones-inspired drama that will draw medieval buffs and fantasy fans."—The Bulletin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316253932
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 5/27/2014
  • Series: Allies & Assassins Series
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 264,036
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: HL820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Justin Somper
Justin Somper is a children's book publicist, as well as the author of the bestselling Vampirates series. The series went on to receive international acclaim and was translated into over 20 languages. He lives in London.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 10, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I was excited to get reading Allies & Assassins by author Ju

    I was excited to get reading Allies & Assassins by author Justin Somper right after I read the synopsis. Historical fiction that focuses on a series of murders inside of a royal court? That definitely sounded like something I had had had to read. I won’t lie—Allies & Assassins was freaking awesome. From start to finish I was immersed in the world that Somper has created and dying to find out who the real killer was and what would happen next to Prince Jared.

    When Archenfield’s ruler Prince Anders is murdered his young brother, Prince Jared, is forced to take up the throne. Between mourning the loss of his brother, preparing to rule the entire kingdom and searching for his brother’s killer, Jared is far from ready for what the future will hold. The twelve officers in the court are powerful and each are forces to be reckoned with. What Jared doesn’t know is that a number of them hold their own wicked personal demons. What he does know is that one of them may have been the force behind his brother’s death. Enter Asta, the Physician’s apprentice and niece, who is determined to uncover the truth behind Prince Anders’ murder and so begins their partnership to find the killer in their midst before he finds Prince Jared.

    Allies & Assassins handled the historical fiction aspect of it perfectly. I’m not a very avid reader of historical fiction and there have been numerous instances where I just could not get into it because it was written awkwardly with barely any explanations. Allies & Assassins is nothing like that. This is a novel that read easily and set the scene and tone within the first chapter. The world that the story takes place in is one that is masterfully built and realistic to read.

    There’s a diverse cast of characters in the novel and it’s written so that we points of views from multiple characters. Not only do we see things through the main character Prince Jared’s eyes but there are also chapters seen through the eyes of members of the 12, Asta Peck and others. No two characters are the same and every single one of them is three dimensional. The way that everything has been set up leaves it impossible to know just who the assassin who killed Prince Jared and others in the court—which only makes this read all the more thrilling. One thing that some readers should be aware of is that this novel is focused solely on the mystery/thriller aspect. There’s no romance. Just blood, betrayal and a sixteen-year-old prince who is far from ready to take up the responsibilities that have been thrust upon him due to his brother’s death.

    Readers will find the pacing of Allies & Assassins quick and will be turning pages to find out what happens next. Everything about Allies & Assassins is fast and feels very unsafe. No character is safe from death. Anything could happen to any one of them and that sense of danger is very exciting to find in a novel. Just when I thought I knew what was happening in the novel there would be a major plot twist thrown in that I did not see coming. And the ending of Allies & Assassins totally sets it up for a sequel that I am eagerly waiting for. What will happen next to Prince Jared and Archenfield? Who will live and who will die? I’m already dying to find out.

    I would recommend Allies & Assassins to readers who are big fans of historical fiction, murder mysteries and want a novel that plays out like an episode of CSI. Any readers who want a fast paced, dramatic novel that will leave you on the edge of your seat need to read Allies & Assassins as soon as possible. This is a series that I’m excited to keep up with.

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  • Posted May 27, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Allies &

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***




    Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper
    Book One of the Enemies of the Prince series
    Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
    Publication Date: May 27, 2014
    Rating: 4 stars
    Source: ARC sent by the publisher




    Summary (from Goodreads):




    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.




    What I Liked:








    Just to clear up something - this is NOT a Middle Grade novel. It's Young Adult. Just saying.




    I featured this book as my Waiting on Wednesday choice a few months ago on a whim - I didn't know much about the book, except that it was a fantasy novel, and it sounded epic. I hadn't read any of Somper's previous novels, though my sister had, and she said she enjoyed his Vampirates series. So, when the publisher sent me this book, I was thrilled! A chance to read a book that I already wanted to read, even if I knew very little about it. I ended up really enjoying this book - all 500 pages of it (or thereabout).




    Jared is the new Prince of Archenfield, after his older brother is suddenly assassinated. No one expected the assassination, as Archenfield has been maintaining friendly alliances with all of its neighbors. But royalty always has enemies, and it is Jared's first task as the new Prince to figure out who is behind the assassination. But nothing is as it seems, as more murders follow Anders' death, and the list of suspects grows longer but vaguer. Help comes in unexpected forms, but so does danger...




    This book is told from several different perspectives, including that of Jared, Asta, Axel, Michael, Koel, and others. Some are minor characters whose perspectives we only see once, but others, like Jared and Asta, we see time and time again. There are many, many characters in this book, but surprisingly, it is very easy to follow each character without getting confused.




    Prince Jared is one of the protagonist, and he is surrounded by a large court. There are twelve officers who counsel him. Jared's mother the Queen, his younger brother Edvin, and his sister-in-law Silva are also close to Jared. There is Asta, the niece and apprentice of the Physician (one of the twelve of the counsel). Her role is crucial in this book, as it is her intuition and investigating skills that bring the truth to light.




    This book takes place in less than a week. Actually, I think it is exactly five days. I KNOW. Five hundred pages = five days. Crazy, right? But I think it's incredible, because Somper goes into all of the ins and outs of the life of a new Prince who has the role dumped onto him, after the death of the reigning Prince. It's so amazing how intricate and detailed this book gets, from meetings to speeches to private audiences... Somper really convinces readers of what he thinks a royal's life is like, especially after the death of a royal. That was one of the things that really struck me, how well-done the tiny little details are.




    The world-building is pretty great too - I love this fantasy setting. It's not too different from what you would typically think of when it comes to kings and queens and kingdoms and whatnot, but Somper has his own spin on things. This world felt very political and almost modern, but I suppose that makes sense, because even in the medieval world, politics weren't all that different from the politics of today.




    The characters, as I mentioned, are many, but very easy to pick apart and follow. I love the character development of Jared - he changes a lot, in less than a week. Of course, when you're following every intimate detail of a person's life, like readers are in this book, you can very clearly see how the protagonists change. I wouldn't say that Asta, the other protagonist, changes as much. I really like her! She's very smart and inquisitive, and she is genuine. She and I are very similar, I feel.




    This book is CRAZY. The politics, the scheming, the plotting, the twists and turns... I barely saw any of anything coming. I saw ONE thing happened, with Anders and the locket and the private bathhouse, but that was about the only thing that I solidly discerned. The assassin? Nope, didn't see it coming. And this is ME, the girl who usually can divine plot twists from early in the book. But that is great! It kept me on my toes. Somper really surprised me with all of the twists and curveballs, and I was always turning pages, trying to figure out what was happening. 




    This book wraps up well, tying up several parts of this book, but there will be more books in this series, especially after that ending. In terms of Prince Anders, things are cleared up. But there is a larger threat at hand, and it is tied to Prince Anders' assassination. YAY for more craziness! I love it.




    What I Did Not Like:




    At this very moment, I can't really think of anything specific that I didn't like about this book. I'm hoping to see the appearance of romance in the next book - I can see it happening between two specific characters in book one. I like that Somper is drawing it out, to develop the romance, if that's what he's doing.




    Would I Recommend It:




    If you like books like this, that are heavily politically driven, then this is definitely one that you should not miss. In a way, this book reminded me a little of Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, with all the scandal and duty and plotting and scheming. I love that type of novel, but I know that not everyone does. It's very intelligent and careful and tricky, not light and filled with nonstop action. Although there was plenty of action in this book. There was also a lot of considering and puzzling. I really liked this book, and I hope that if this seems like a novel for you, that you enjoy it as well!




    Rating:




    4 stars. What an intriguing fantasy novel! I absolutely love novels like this - one that features a fantasy world with plenty of scheming and twists and turns and mystery. Political scandal and machinations? I'm all about that! This was such a great book. I cannot wait to read book two!

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  • Posted May 27, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Allies & Assassins is a teen drama brought to a ruling counc

    Allies & Assassins is a teen drama brought to a ruling council.




    The writing is beautiful. Vivid, carefully chosen details bring pieces of the story to life from descriptions of bodies to the actions of the characters. These were definitely the highlights of the story for me. Additionally, the dialogue meets a balance between court formality and language that modern readers would be comfortable reading. Unfortunately, these aren't enough to make a story for me without a proper plot to support it.




    There was a disappointing lack of political intrigue in a book where the ruler has been murdered. Throughout and exiting the story, I didn't have a clear feel for character motivations and who might be plotting against the princedom. For example, instead of developing the council characters through their discussions, the story portrays them for the most part as bickering with each other and bidding for power. While this is understandable, as there are coalitions going on here, I want to see more character development and political intrigue at court. Instead, the story follows two teenagers investigating a crime while the adults around them remain obstinately set in their opinions until presented with tangible evidence that suggests otherwise.




    I appreciate how the story switches perspectives in an attempt to develop different angels of the case of Prince Anders's murder. What it ended up doing, however, was drag the pacing of the story and stifle the buildup of suspense instead of building it up. It also took the spotlight away from Jared, causing him to appear merely as a pawn for the older court members instead of a prominent character in his own right. I know that he's only just ascended to the throne, but it's not pleasant when the apparent protagonist acts in a passive role, seeming to have no control over anything. As such, Jared was disappointing as a protagonist.




    To my surprise, the Physician's nice Asta plays a more active role in the story. Upon learning that Prince Anders was murdered while assisting her uncle in the examination of the body, Asta takes it upon herself to investigate the assassination. While her intelligent and courage are admirable, this was frustrating on multiple accounts. First, I don't see enough character motivation for her to investigate. Second, she acts with great audacity in using her uncle's name to question people of rank and in daring to approach Jared, the ruling prince. Her excuse is that she doesn't understand court politics having come from a poor village. Nevertheless, she should have some awareness that she's risking her uncle's position and her chances of having a better life by learning a proper trade.




    Overall, the tone of the story feels targeted more towards a younger audience, running along the lines of The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. For its targeted age range, however, The False Prince does a better job of developing mystery and intrigue (albeit in a simple fashion) and features a more proactive protagonist.

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