Knight Assassin by Rima Jean
Seventeen-year-old Zayn has special powers she cannot control—powers that others fear and covet. Powers that cause the Templar Knights to burn Zayn's mother at the stake for witchcraft.
When a mysterious stranger tempts Zayn to become the first female member of the heretical Assassins, the chance to seek her revenge lures her in. She trains to harness her supernatural strength and agility, and then enters the King of Jerusalem's court in disguise with the assignment to assassinate Guy de Molay, her mother's condemner.
But once there, she discovers Earic Goodwin, the childhood friend who still holds her heart, among the knights—and his ocean-blue eyes don't miss a thing. Will vengeance be worth the life of the one love she has left?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Rima Jean, Tracy Montoya
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Rima Jean
All rights reserved.
Zayn kept her eyes lowered as she walked, her heart thumping. She could feel the disapproving stares of the villagers like needles along her spine. Quickening her pace, she prayed her body would cooperate today.
Please. Not now. Don't let it happen now.
The basket against her hip slipped in her sweaty grip, and she paused to shift it. She tugged at her headscarf, carefully tucking any errant strand of hair back beneath the cloth. Lifting her gaze just a fraction, she saw Maha, the baker's wife, standing alone in front of her husband's house, and exhaled in relief. Bread was the last item on her list. She could rush home after this and be done with the people of Rafaniya — for now.
"Good day, Madam Maha," Zayn mumbled, staring at the ground.
"Good day, Zayn." The woman's tone was polite but cold. "You've come for bread this morning?"
"Yes, madam." She raised her head sharply upon hearing someone exit the house and saw Maha's daughters sit on stools nearby, their eyes on Zayn. Jahida and Basmah were around Zayn's age, and they'd made their contempt of Zayn very clear in the past. They smiled venomously at her now.
"Good day, Zayn," they said in unison, their voices honeyed.
The buzz in her ears was like a sea of approaching locusts, soft at first, growing louder by the second. Her vision shimmered, as though the world had been sprinkled with stardust. The blood surged in her veins, rushing, flowing, filling.
Oh God. Please, not now. Zayn clenched her jaw, panicking. She could not control it, regardless of how hard she tried. It consumed her in waves.
"Basmah," Jahida said to her sister, watching Zayn through the corner of her eye, "have you heard the latest gossip?"
"No, what is it?" Basmah widened her eyes in mock excitement.
The sound in Zayn's head was a roar now, the shimmer edged with a greenish haze. She could feel the basket breaking between her fingers, even as she loosened her grip.
"Rumor has it that Sharif intends to marry Zayn," Jahida said, a hand on her chest. "Can you believe it? The village headman's son, marrying the daughter of a —"
"Hold your tongues, you two," Maha barked at them as she carried the bread from the house to Zayn.
It was too late. The basket, made of sturdy willow shoots, crumbled like brittle leaves, crushed between Zayn's arm and her body. Lost within this strange, urgent burst of strength, she could only turn and run. Even as she tried to stop her feet, she could feel them struggling to fly. The laughter of the girls echoed in her head, and her heart seemed to stop beating altogether. The world was a blur of motion, a passing flash.
The tiny home Zayn shared with her mother, Miriam, came within view, and suddenly, the roar softened to a buzz, the blinding light dimmed back to a shimmer. As Zayn collapsed in the dirt beyond the fence, her body loosened, as if casting all its energy back into air.
"Zayn!" Miriam ran from the house and fell to her knees, pulling her daughter into her arms.
Zayn sobbed into her mother's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Mama. I tried, truly I did."
Miriam's fingers danced along the edge of her daughter's headscarf. "It happened again?"
Zayn nodded miserably. "I just don't know how to stop it."
Silence and the gentle caress of fingertips, then: "I wish I knew what to tell you, my love."
Lifting her head to look at her mother, Zayn whispered, "Make it go away."
"No." Miriam's eyes were black and lustrous. "I can't. And in any case, you should learn to control it, not destroy it."
"But how?" Zayn wailed. "It's like trying to control the rain. I can't even begin to understand how to control it."
Miriam stared at her hands, considering. They were small, feminine hands that were darkened and callused from a lifetime of hard, manual labor. "Maybe ... I can help."
"Truly?" Zayn's heart fluttered with hope. "But how?"
"I don't know," Miriam said with a sigh, rising to her feet. "Let me think on it. Maybe in a few days, we can try."
Zayn stood, wiping the tears from her face with her headscarf. She had no idea what her mother meant or how she could possibly help Zayn. Perhaps there were herbs Miriam could give her that would cure her of this affliction. She would try anything.
"Now," Miriam said with a quirk of her mouth, "I will go and get us some bread."
"Don't go," Zayn begged, reaching for her mother's arm. "We can make do without for a couple days. Then I will go with you."
"Very well." Miriam's expression was tender. "Don't be ashamed, Zayn. Never be ashamed."
A single nod was all Zayn could offer in response. Because she was ashamed of herself, of her eerie fits of power. Maybe her fellow villagers were right in hating her, in fearing her.
She was afraid of herself.
* * *
Shading her eyes against the sun, Zayn could see them coming, their forms shimmering in the heat. Her stomach clenched. They were coming for her, and she had no intention of going with them. So she stayed hidden in the grove, scooping olives into the basket around her waist. Near the house, Miriam prepared the fruit for pressing, as she had her whole life. When she saw the men approaching, she stood and wiped her hands on her skirt, quickly dabbing her face and tucking any stray strands of hair back into her headscarf. She called to her daughter, but Zayn pretended not to hear.
Zayn watched as the village headman, Mahmud, and his son, Sharif, approached her mother. They were both small, wiry men with dark, beady eyes and bad teeth. The only difference between the two was age, so that Mahmud had more belly and beard. She clenched her jaw — she would have to confront them, whether she liked it or not. She descended the stepladder and made her way back to the house, where Miriam had brought out tea for the men. Miriam smiled at her daughter carefully.
Zayn lowered her eyes and greeted the men politely. She felt Sharif's hungry gaze on her, and the hairs at the back of her neck stood on end.
"Good morning, child," Mahmud replied, leaning back in his chair and slurping noisily at his tea. "We come bearing good news for you." He peered at her over the rim of his cup.
Zayn continued to look away, removing the basket from around her waist. "Yes, sir," she replied with as little emotion as possible.
Mahmud smacked his lips and set his cup back on the tray. "My son Sharif has decided that he will have you for a wife," he announced, smiling. He waited for a reaction from her, and when there was none, he added, "Isn't it wonderful?"
Her vision grew fuzzy, father and son blurring together before her eyes. She heard only her own breathing, stuttered and quick. A rage blossomed in her chest. My son Sharif has decided that he will have you as a wife. They believed they were doing her an enormous favor, after all. She was a bastard, a child born out of wedlock, sired by a man her mother refused to speak of. As a result, whispers of whore followed Miriam like a shadow any time she interacted with the villagers.
And now? The village headman's son had taken pity on Zayn, the illegitimate child, the outcast's daughter, and decided he would grant her the gift of marrying him. Zayn wanted to throw her head back and laugh. She wanted to fling the tea in their faces, to rage at them for being so stupid. What a mockery this was! Sharif wasn't driven by kindness; he was driven by lust, by the desire to own her. Did they think she couldn't see that? Did they think she'd fall to her knees and kiss their feet for being so charitable?
The roar, the light, the rush of blood. She was transforming within her own body, against her will. No, please, not now! In her desperation, she swung around to look at Miriam, and the women locked eyes. If this happens now, my mother will pay the price. The thought pierced her heart, and like a gust of wind, the energy began to escape her body through her pores.
Mahmud and Sharif exchanged looks. "Zayn?" Mahmud said. "Did you hear what I said, child?"
The sound of her breath faded, and her vision crystallized. She looked again at Miriam, who sat stiffly, her face drawn. Zayn finally met the headman's eyes and said, "No." They stared dumbly, and so she raised her voice and looked at Sharif. "My answer is no."
"What do you mean, no?" Sharif spat, standing suddenly, his eyes blazing. "Don't you realize what I am offering you?"
Oh, she knew. He was offering her imprisonment in his household, in her veils, in her own body. Her docility would earn his approval, but he would always hold the sins of her mother over her head. No, thank you. She would not give away her final shred of pride, her last bit of freedom. Zayn smiled placidly, her anger draining from her. In an almost cheerful tone, she said, "I would rather die."
The silence that ensued crackled with tension so thick that Zayn felt a spell of dizziness. Sharif pointed a finger at her, his long, thin face contorted in a grimace. "Then maybe you should die!"
"Sharif!" Mahmud stood and laid a hand on his son's wrist. He glanced at Miriam sternly. "Your daughter is willful and impudent. God will punish her."
Miriam stood, her face entirely unreadable. "She is her mother's daughter, I suppose."
Mahmud nodded, as if Miriam were confirming something he had always believed. His eyes glinted with malice as he said, "And God will punish you both."
Zayn watched the men leave, feeling victorious. Miriam came to stand beside her and looped her arm through her daughter's. Zayn whispered, "Are you angry with me?"
"No." Miriam smiled. "I wanted you to make the decision for yourself. On the one hand, I don't want you to suffer for my mistakes. On the other hand, I know you will never be happy married to Sharif — to any of the men here."
Zayn rested her head against Miriam's. "I am happy here with you. We will be two old maids together." She felt her mother shake her head gently.
"You are meant for bigger things than this, Zayn. Much bigger things."
Miriam was speaking in riddles again, and Zayn felt a flash of irritation. "I will never leave you, Mama."
In response, Miriam squeezed Zayn's hand, then walked back to the basin to continue washing the olives. Zayn emptied her basket, tied it back on, and returned to the olive grove. Her sense of triumph dissipated, leaving an unsettled feeling in her chest. She wished Miriam would tell her everything and stop trying to protect her from the truth. She was seventeen years old, and she deserved to know who her father was, what had happened to him, and why she was ... different.
Sighing, she climbed the stepladder and continued plucking the olives from their branches. She remembered the freedoms of her childhood all too vividly, how she used to clamber up this very same tree, barefoot and reckless. She gazed beyond the branches of the olive tree and focused on the silhouette of Montferrand Castle in the distance, high up on the hill. Within the Syrian hamlet of Rafaniya, Zayn and her mother made olive oil for the Franks — the people from the Kingdom of France — who owned the land. All of the villagers were serfs to the Franks, including Mahmud and his worthless son Sharif.
A bright yellow butterfly sat on a leaf near her hand, its wings trembling ever so slightly. She had it better than most women born to her lot, that was certain. She was trapped in Rafaniya, perhaps, but she had her mother, and she was free of the shackles of marriage. She would never allow a man to trap her in marriage as she was in womanhood — never. She may face hellfire for her errant ways in the end, but her life, while she lived, would be free of those shackles.
Resting her head against the gnarled trunk of the tree, Zayn closed her eyes. Mahmud and Sharif would make her pay for her insult, she knew. They would want to humiliate her before the village somehow, to make her look foolish. She would endure whatever they had in mind for only one reason: Miriam.
As long as they did not hurt Miriam, Zayn would endure her punishment.CHAPTER 2
A pounding at the door jarred Zayn awake. She sat up, blinking, her heart racing. Miriam staggered to her feet and covered her hair quickly, flashing her daughter a look. "Get up. Cover your hair."
Bam! Bam! Bam! The wooden door bowed with each blow, threatening to collapse. Miriam rushed to open it, but Zayn's gut impulse was to grab her mother and sneak out the window. Before she could do anything, Miriam had opened the door. Three Frankish knights stood outside, dressed in mail and wearing their swords. Even by moonlight, Zayn recognized the dark, handsome features of Guy de Molay. He's back. He'd grown up since she'd seen him last, but the cruelty in his eyes flickered just as brightly as she remembered. His thick black brows were drawn together, peaking at the ends. His lips curled over his teeth, and his nostrils flared.
Her gaze darted to the faces of the other knights. Was Earic Goodwin back as well?
"It has come to my attention," Guy said, "that there is a witch on my father's lands." He tilted his head to survey Miriam with interest, his gaze raking over her.
Zayn stepped between Guy and her mother. "What are you talking about? That's crazy." She was a few inches from him now; she saw the glaze over his eyes and smelled the alcohol on his breath. His eyes, a rich hazel, suddenly focused on her, and recognition lit them faintly. Zayn could feel her pulse in her throat. He can't remember me. More than five years have passed ...
"She's the witch!" Mahmud, the village headman, elbowed his way between the knights and pointed a gnarled finger at Miriam. "She casts the evil eye on all of us. She conjured the jinn, then had her child by one." His eyes left Miriam and pierced into Zayn. "Zayn is not normal. She behaves like one possessed and has always had unusual ... vigor. She is the daughter of a jinni."
If she hadn't been so terrified, Zayn would have laughed aloud. The daughter of a demon? Is that what the villagers truly believed she was? Or was Mahmud simply trying to take his revenge on her for refusing his son's proposal of marriage? "That's ridiculous." Her voice cracked as she spoke, and she felt Miriam inch closer to her.
Guy was still glaring at Zayn. "Unusual vigor, eh?" He flashed his teeth in a depraved grin. "I think I have encountered this bitch before. Zayn, is it? Ah yes, I believe I remember. Earic Goodwin's little Saracen girlfriend." His hand worked at the pommel of his sword. He looked again at Miriam. "Do you know what the punishment is for witchcraft?"
"I am not a witch," Miriam answered, her voice steady. "Mahmud is angry because Zayn will not marry his son."
"That's interesting," Guy said, "because as it turns out, the entire village believes you are a witch as well. There is no need for a trial, since it is unanimous." He turned his head slightly and addressed the other knights. "Let's finish this. Grab the witch."
Zayn heard the familiar roar, saw the brilliant haze. For the first time in her life, she and her body were in agreement. She felt it — whatever it was — course through her veins with each pump of her heart. In a haze of fury, she lashed out at the knights, her bare feet and hands meeting with wrought iron. One of the knights stumbled back, tripped over a stool, and crashed to the ground. Guy paused, apparently surprised by the blur of fist and foot that struck them with such force. Her limbs seemed to almost glow as she moved, repelling the knights with some otherworldly strength.
She whirled to a stop, panting, her eyes daring them to approach.
"Get up," Guy snarled at his men, turning to grab Miriam. He pulled her tightly against him, twisting her arms against her body. He drew a dagger and held it to Miriam's throat. "Submit, or I kill her now."
Zayn faltered, her heart clenched. She could feel her powers dissipating, fleeing her body as anger turned to fear. "Don't hurt her, I beg you."
Guy laughed, addressing his comrades. "Ah yes, I've dealt with this bitch before. She's a pretty thing for a demon-child, isn't she?" He thrust Miriam and the dagger to a redheaded knight, then yanked Zayn by the wrist.
Excerpted from Knight Assassin by Rima Jean, Tracy Montoya. Copyright © 2014 Rima Jean. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Oh my gosh! I REALLY hope this is turning into a series, because the next character that would be added...well, let's just say he is one of my favorite subjects in retellings! I will leave a longer review when it comes out next month, but SERIOUSLY! What a FANTASTIC story! Rima Jean did a fantastic job of mixing history with the paranormal! And the plot was fast paced, there was NEVER a dull moment! (Of course, Zayn would probably disagree with me, considering her frustration with having to wait.) :-) I LOVE Zayn. She has been treated like dirt, and gone through some pretty terrible things in her life. And yet, she eventually gets up, brushes off the dust, and figures out a way to continue living. She is such a strong heroine. Here are my status updates from while I was reading: 02/01 page 25 10.0% "Only 25 pages in, and she is already going through some CRAZY hard stuff! Tears have already been shed. :(" 02/01 page 32 12.0% "I love how this book goes back and forth between the present and the past, revealing little bits of the story at a time." 02/01 page 98 39.0% "Oh, NO! I really hope this isn't a fight to the death! Otherwise, I will cry!" 02/01 page 109 43.0% "I am super jealous of where she is going right now!" 02/02 page 200 80.0% "Changes in plans. Shifting loyalties. Good, old-fashioned storytelling. :)" 02/02 page 248 99.0% "I am SO SAD!!!" 02/02 page 255 100.0% "O. M. G. NOW I understand what happened!" 02/02 page 258 100.0% "NO! This is NOT happening!"
Absolutely amazing, thrilling, romantic, and just wonderful! Knight Assassin was a brilliant YA read. I loved this book. Everything about it, from the impeccable setting to the thrilling action, was perfect. Loved it! I love how the setting was done. Since I know quite a bit about Arab culture, from the religion to the everyday way of life, I would have been turned off right away if something was inaccurate. But, everything was spot on and vividly described. The lush details made me feel totally transported into the setting. I thought it was brilliantly done. Zayn was a fantastic heroine. This poor girl went through so much, from the disapproval of the entire town she dealt with while growing up, to her mother's murder and something even worse. But, she found a way to keep her strength and, eventually, become strong enough to take on everyone who tried to get in her way. She was definitely a survivor. I especially liked that she didn't let her bad experiences turn her cold. She was still a genuinely nice person (unless you wronged her; then she would take you down). I really liked her. I thought she was a wonderful character. Earic was also wonderful. We only get glimpses of his character from Zayn's memories for about the first half, but those glimpses made me like him right away. Then, when he came into the picture, I liked him even more. He was very strong and loyal to what he believed in, even if it sometimes meant going against the rules. And he was so sweet and devoted to Zayn. I just adored him. I thought he was wonderful. The romance was fairly light, since Zayn and Earic don't reunite for a while. But, that didn't mean it wasn't there. Even when they were separated, Zayn was thinking about Earic and, when they met again, it was obvious that they still cared for each other. These two were so perfectly matched and so meant to be together. I thought they were a lovely couple. The plot was fast paced and I was hooked the entire way through. There were enough secrets and surprises to keep me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed the story and the ending has me excited to see what happens next. I can't wait to read book 2! Knight Assassin was a brilliant YA read. I absolutely loved this book. It was just amazing, from the characters, to the setting, to the action, and the romance. All of it was perfect. Lovers of YA romance, this book is a must read. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Knight Assassin is a YA historical fantasy reminiscent of Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. It's graced with a kick-ass heroine, an action-packed plot and some really cool magic. This was quite a fast read for me, but there's so much in it. I really enjoyed this book throughout, and I'm already eager for more. This book is unique in the sense that it's set in a Muslim place, with Islam traditions playing a key role. When Zayn's mother is burned at the stake for witchcraft, Zayn knows she's in danger too, and is invited to join the Assassins, a secretive group who fight on behalf of the people who cannot. Zayn puts everything she can into her training, both physical and magical, since all she wants is to take revenge on the man who killed her mother - Guy de Molay, one of the Templar Knights. But her undercover assignment has the potential to be botched when she realizes her childhood friend, Earic, is a Templar too. And he has a good chance of recognizing her. Zayn still has her mission in her head, but Earic is taking over her heart. She is mentally battling with both, not knowing which one will win out over the other. In some ways you could say Zayn's your typical badass fighter protagonist, but her upbringing is very different. The fact that she's Muslim means she has to cover her head at all times, and women are considered to be far below men. But Zayn has a fire in her, and she wants to fight back. Even though she's put through so many tests and she's been through hell, she comes back from it, stronger than before. I think that aspect of her is amazing - she never gives up. I really liked some of the other characters, too. Earic was great - he's a perfect blend of charming, funny, protective and kind. We get to see flashbacks of Zayn's childhood - the times spent with Earic, and he was adorable even back then. I loved seeing how their friendship developed early on, and then blossomed into something more after they meet again several years later. Zayn's undercover role is to be a lady-in-waiting to Lady Marguerite, a.k.a. the third character we get to know quite a bit about in this book. Marguerite is very similar to Zayn - she has a great sense of adventure, and she'd rather go out and shoot arrows than sit inside and sew like most ladies do. I loved Marguerite's wild spirit and her recklessness. In fact, she and Zayn make an awesome pair! Like most historical fiction, Knight Assassin has its fair share of politics. Though it's definitely not as much as I've seen in other books, so I was really glad about that. The book is more focused on Zayn's revenge mission and her developing strength and powers. Of course, that means that there wasn't much romance in this either, but I liked that it wasn't in the foreground. There's enough to keep those romance-lovers satisfied, though, especially with Earic being all endearing and totally swoon-worthy. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this one, since I had heard nothing about it before receiving it. Knight Assassin is great for fans of His Fair Assassin, Maids of Honor, Grisha, and Throne of Glass. I'm definitely hoping to read more from Rima Jean soon!
This book was most unusual, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Knight Assassin was richly detailed, the setting and background painted in vivid colors and imagery. It's set in a historical time period in the Middle East, and there is political unrest and cultures warring with one another. It's a very tumultuous and dangerous setting, especially for a young girl who lost her innocence and youth in the name of religion and God. The main character, Zayn, grew up in a small village that's controlled by the Franks (I think). When her mother is accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake, Zayn leaves the village with Junaid. Junaid is an Assassin, and someone Zayn was told to fear and stay away from. But her mother and her innocence is gone, and there's no one else who will take care of her. There, she trains hardcore. There, she's the only woman assassin trainee and is bullied by the other males. I thought Zayn was a strong character, one who never wants to be hurt again, one who wants to be able to protect herself. But what she really wants is revenge. Once she masters the artform of the Assassins, she's sent back to her homeland so she can finally have her revenge. But, it's not so simple as it has always seen to her. There, she finds a childhood friend and a love that was lost. Earic was adorable! But. You don't really find out much about him. Their relationship is very cutesy and pure and fits perfectly in with a YA historical novel. However, I thought it was really underdeveloped. I was kind of hoping for a little more interaction between them. This book was entertaining, but I felt that it was a little dry sometimes. The plot had intense action scenes in-between the quiet moments. But everything moved at such a fast pace, that when I was just getting used to what was happening, it'd change. Not to mention, I was a lot confused on most of the historical details, so that didn't help when the author was trying to explain them. I also didn't understand why there was magic. Maybe that will be more explained in the second book? But thing is, I don't know if I want to read the second book. I'm not really invested in these characters or this story-line. I wasn't even sure there would actually be a sequel. So, we'll see. I compared this book a lot to Grave Mercy, and because I loved that one so much, Knight Assassin didn't do much for me. Fans of the His Fair Assassin series might like this one more, or vice versa. I think it just depends on the reader.
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Entangled Publishing, LLC and Netgalley.) 17-year-old Zayn has a problem – sometimes she feels an overwhelming building of energy inside her and doesn’t know how to dissipate it without people getting hurt. When she turns down a marriage proposal by the village leader’s son, her mother is killed, and Zayn somehow finds herself being trained as an assassin. Where does this power come from? Is Zayn the only one affected? And can she use her powers for good? This was an okay story, but I didn’t really enjoy it all that much. Zayn was an okay character. She obviously loved her mother, wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she wanted, and always did her best. I liked the way that she didn’t accept a pity proposal and instead took the more dangerous option, and I also liked the way she didn’t use her power to hurt people, even when they weren’t necessarily friendly. The storyline in this was okay, although I did get a bit bored. There was some action in this which is probably what saved the book for me, and I also liked the little snippets of romance that we got. I did find my attention slipping during most of the book though. I will say that this book did remind me of Grave Mercy, and seeing as I didn’t like that much either it probably stands to reason that I wouldn’t like this much either. If you liked Grave Mercy you will probably like this though. Overall; okay assassin story, with a good main character. 6 out of 10.
I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this one. It has two of my favorite things just in the title--knights and assassins. So, I knew I had to at least give it a shot. And while there were some things I'm not sure about (Assassin's Creed, anyone?), this was still a very enjoyable read. Zayn lives with her mother in a small town, where they mostly keep to themselves. Due to Zayn's powers, that she doesn't really understand or know how to control, the villagers don't trust her, calling her and her mother witches. But one day, the son of the lord whose land they live on, Sir Guy de Molay, comes and does the unthinkable--he accuses Zayn's mother of witchcraft and burns her at the stake. Zayn wants to kill herself, until a mysterious man comes and tries to recruit her to be one of the Muslim Assassins, promising her revenge on de Molay. And so she goes. One of the things I liked most about this book was culture. Zayn is a Muslim, in the time of the Crusades. So, there's a lot of culture and history weaved into this book. I definitely enjoy things from this time period, and so this story drew me in with the historical aspect. However, that's also where this book lost me at times. (I realize that doesn't quite make sense.) Some of it, especially when talking about the fictional part, would confuse me, and I wouldn't quite understand what was going on. I had my issues with Zayn as well. Now, I am not saying that I could ever imagine going through what she did. I cannot imagine how it would feel, nor can I imagine the feelings I would have as well. However, too much of Zayn was revengeful, making it so that's really the only characteristic I can think of to describe her. I did not feel any connection to her. I'm not saying she was a bad character, but there definitely could have been more to her. In fact, that's almost how I felt about all of these characters. I never really connected with any of them. The plot was so fueled by Zayn's need for revenge, that at times, I'm not sure I completely understood what this was about. Is it about Zayn becoming an Assassin? Her revenge on de Molay? Or the bigger picture of Saladin and the war? In fact, I'm not quite sure I still know. But, it was still very action-packed and full of suspense. All in all, this was still a pretty good book. I would definitely recommend it for fans of knights and assassins. It did not take very long to read, but for the most part, held my attention. I would definitely consider reading other works by this author. (I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.)
Featuring a female assassin with magical powers, KNIGHT ASSASSIN has a lot of elements that I normally like. But for some reason, I wasn’t able to get into the book. It just didn’t click for me. Zayn has mysterious powers she can’t control, powers that make her faster and stronger than others. She and her mother are not welcome in their village, and keep to themselves. When she rejects the marriage proposal of an important man in the village, her mother is burned at the stake, accused of being a witch. Zayn herself is raped by Guy de Molay, son of the lord of the land. Emotionally and physically abused, and without her beloved mother, Zayn doesn’t know what to do. She just wants to die. But before she can do anything, she’s rescued by Junaid, an Assassin of a heretical Islamic sect. Because of her rumored abilities, Zayn is given the opportunity to train as an Assassin. Thirsting for revenge against Guy, she goes for it, becoming the first female Assassin. Although both Christianity and Islam play a role in the book, the author doesn’t shove religion down anyone’s throats. In fact, Zayn is not religious at all. Take the Dome of the Rock — both religions find it important, and fought over it. Zayn can’t understand why anyone would kill over a rubble-filled spot. In a time (~1180) where people were extremely religious, it was refreshing to see a main character who wasn’t. Zayn really only joins the Nizari Isma’ili so she can gain the skills she’ll need to kill Guy. The romance wasn’t a big portion of the book, which I liked. Zayn has no use for men after her rape, and she didn’t really care for them before, either. She wanted to be independent, not shackled to any man in marriage. But she runs into Earic Goodwin, a Saxon Knight Templar, while trying to accomplish her assassination of Guy. She vaguely knew Earic when they were children, and almost the minute she sees him again, she starts thinking she loves him. I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them. I wish they had stayed friends, and let the romance come along in the next book. At 242 pages, KNIGHT ASSASSIN isn’t too long, but it read like a longer book for me. I think this was because of flashbacks, which the author would use whenever an important event from the past came up, such as Zayn and Earic’s first meeting. I did like that the book was set in Syria and Jerusalem. It’s good to have a fantasy/historical romance that isn’t set in medieval England. However, I didn’t get a good sense of the world, other than the types of food they ate. I also wanted to know more about Zayn’s powers. I’m still confused on what they actually are. I’m guessing that will be explained more in the next book. Overall, KNIGHT ASSASSIN was missing something for me. It was okay, but flawed. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
My Thoughts - 3.5 out of 5 Unicorns - I more than liked it!! ***Received the ebook from Entangled Publishing for an honest review The cover is intriguing and attracts attention :) My son saw the author’s website and immediately mentioned Assassin’s Creed which is a video game he knows, but I have no idea about it. Not sure if this book is somehow related to that game, but I thought I should mention it just in case. I should also mention that rape is a topic in this book. This story is interesting and has some interesting dynamics. I’m hoping that this is going to be a series because there are some references made at the end that have awesome possibilities. Zayn is special though she doesn’t know why. Zayn has a lot to overcome after her mother’s death. I loved going on the journey with her and watching her figured out who she is because she kind of reminds me of my students. They go along with anything their friends say until they figure out who they are and what they need. Her connection with Earic who is supposed to be her enemy is just as mysterious as her powers. He is someone who leaves an impression because of his kind heart, and he doesn’t share the same prejudices as his fellow knights. I do not want to say anything more specific, but there is action galore, hunting, fighting, battles, and much more. There are a lot of learning opportunities with regard to culture and religious differences from England to Syria. I recommend this story to YA book lovers who enjoy assassin type intrigues with a little magic thrown in. I hope this is a series because I think it will only get better as it goes.