Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape . . . and even less of being together.
Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has a magical gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than either Kaden or Lia foresaw.
Meanwhile, the foundations of Lia's deeply-held beliefs are crumbling beneath her. Nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to her, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom she always believed to be barbarians but whom she now realizes are people who have been terribly brutalized by the kingdoms of Dalbreck and Morrighan. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her very sense of self, Lia will have to make powerful choices that affect her country, her people . . . and her own destiny.
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The Heart of Betrayal
The Remnant Chronicles
By Mary E. Pearson
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2015 Mary E. Pearson
All rights reserved.
One swift act.
I had thought that was all it would take.
A knife in the gut.
A firm twist for good measure.
But as Venda swallowed me up, as the misshapen walls and hundreds of curious faces closed in, as I heard the clatter of chains and the bridge lowering behind me, cutting me off from the rest of the world, I knew my steps had to be certain.
It was going to take many acts, not just one, every step renegotiated. Lies would have to be told. Confidences gained. Ugly lines crossed. All of it patiently woven together, and patience wasn't my strong suit.
But first, more than anything, I had to find a way to make my heart stop pummeling my chest. Find my breath. Appear calm. Fear was the blood scent for wolves. The curious inched closer, peering at me with half-open mouths that revealed rotten teeth. Were they amused or sneering?
And there was the jingle of skulls. The gathering rattle of dry bones rippled through the crowd as they jockeyed to get a better look, strings of small sun-bleached heads, femurs, and teeth waving from their belts as they pressed forward to see me. And to see Rafe.
I knew he walked shackled somewhere behind me at the end of the caravan, prisoners, both of us — and Venda didn't take prisoners. At least they never had before. We were more than a curiosity. We were the enemy they had never seen. And that was exactly what they were to me.
We walked past endless jutting turrets, layers of twisted stone walls blackened with soot and age, slithering like a filthy living beast, a city built of ruin and whim. The roar of the river faded behind me.
I'll get us both out of this.
Rafe had to be questioning his promise to me now.
We passed through another set of massive jagged gates, toothy iron bars mysteriously opening for us as if our arrival was anticipated. Our caravan grew smaller as groups of soldiers veered in different directions now that they were home. They disappeared down snaking paths shadowed by tall walls. The chievdar led what remained of us, and the wagons of booty jingled in front of me as we walked into the belly of the city. Was Rafe still somewhere behind me, or had they taken him down one of those miserable alleyways?
Kaden swung down from his horse and walked beside me. "We're almost there."
A wave of nausea hit me. Walther's dead, I reminded myself. My brother is dead. There was nothing more they could take from me. Except Rafe. I had more than myself to think about now. This changed everything. "Where is there?" I tried to ask calmly, but my words tripped out hoarse and uneven.
"We're going to the Sanctum. Our version of court. Where the leaders meet."
"And the Komizar."
"Let me do the talking, Lia. Just this once. Please, don't say a word."
I looked at Kaden. His jaw was tight, and his brows pulled low, as if his head ached. Was he nervous to greet his own leader? Afraid of what I might say? Or what the Komizar would do? Would it be considered an act of treason that he hadn't killed me as he was ordered? His blond hair hung in greasy, tired strands well past his shoulders now. His face was slick with oil and grime. It had been a long time since either of us had seen soap — but that was the least of our problems.
We approached another gate, this one a towering flat wall of iron pocked with rivets and slits. Eyes peered through them. I heard shouts from behind it, and the heavy clang of a bell. It juddered through me, each ring shivering in my teeth.
Zsu viktara. Stand strong. I forced my chin higher, almost feeling Reena's fingertips lifting it. Slowly the wall split in two and the gates rolled back, permitting our entry into an enormous open area as misshapen and bleak as the rest of the city. It was bordered on all sides by walls, towers, and the beginnings of narrow streets that disappeared into shadows. Winding crenelated walkways loomed above us, each one overtaking and melting into the next.
The chievdar moved forward, and the wagons piled in behind him. Guards in the inner court shouted their welcomes, then happily bellowed approval at the stash of swords and saddles and the glittering tangle of plunder piled high on the wagons — all that was left of my brother and his comrades. My throat tightened, for I knew that soon one of them would be wearing Walther's baldrick and carrying his sword.
My fingers curled into my palm, but I didn't even have so much as a nail left to stab my own skin. All of them were torn to the quick. I rubbed my raw fingertips, and a fierce ache shook my chest. It caught me by surprise, this small loss of my nails compared to the enormity of everything else. It was almost a mocking whisper that I had nothing, not even a fingernail, to defend myself. All I had was a secret name that seemed as useless to me right now as the title I was born with. Make it true, Lia, I told myself. But even as I said the words in my head, I felt my confidence ebbing. I had far more at stake now than I'd had just a few hours ago. Now my actions could hurt Rafe too.
Orders were given to unload the ill-gotten treasure and carry it inside, and boys younger than Eben scurried over with small two-wheeled carts to the sides of the wagon and helped the guards fill them. The chievdar and his personal guard dismounted and walked up steps that led to a long corridor. The boys followed behind, pushing the overflowing carts up a nearby ramp, their thin arms straining under the weight. Some of the booty in their loads was still stained with blood.
"That way to Sanctum Hall," Kaden said, pointing after the boys. Yes, nervous. I could hear it in his tone. If even he was afraid of the Komizar, what chance did I have?
I stopped and turned, trying to spot Rafe somewhere back in the line of soldiers still coming through the gate, but all I could see was Malich leading his horse, following close behind us. He grinned, his face still bearing the slash marks from my attack. "Welcome to Venda, Princess," he jeered. "I promise you, things will be very different now."
Kaden pulled me around, keeping me close to his side. "Stay near," he whispered. "For your own good."
Malich laughed, reveling in his threat, but for once, I knew what he said was true. Everything was different now. More than Malich could even guess.CHAPTER 2
Sanctum Hall was little more than a dismal tavern, albeit a cavernous one. Four of Berdi's taverns could have fit within its walls. It smelled of spilled ale, damp straw, and overindulgence. Columns lined the four sides, and it was lit with torches and lanterns. The high ceiling was covered in soot, and an enormous rough wooden table sat heavy and abused in the center. Pewter tankards rested on the table or swung from meaty fists.
Kaden and I hung back in the shadowed walkway behind the columns, but the leaders greeted the chievdar and his personal guard with boisterous shouts and slapping of backs. Tankards were offered and raised to the returning soldiers with calls to bring more ale. I saw Eben, shorter than some of the serving boys, lifting a pewter cup to his lips, a returning soldier the same as the rest. Kaden pushed me slightly behind him in a protective manner, but I still scanned the room, trying to spot the Komizar, trying to be ready, prepared for what was to come. Several of the men were huge, like Griz — some even bigger — and I wondered what kind of creatures, both human and beast, this strange land produced. I kept my eyes on one of them. He snarled every word, and the scurrying boys ran a respectful wide distance around him. I thought that he had to be the Komizar, but I saw Kaden's eyes scouring the room too, and they passed over the burly brute.
"These are the Legion of Governors," he said, as if he had read my mind. "They rule the provinces."
Venda had provinces? And a hierarchy too, beyond assassins, marauders, and an iron-fisted Komizar? The governors were distinguished from the servants and soldiers by black fur epaulets on their shoulders. The fur was crowned with a bronze clasp shaped like the bared teeth of an animal. It made their physiques appear twice as wide and formidable.
The ruckus rose to a deafening roar, echoing off the stone walls and bare floors. There was only a pile of straw in one corner of the room to absorb any noise. The boys parked the carts of booty along one row of pillars, and the governors perused the haul, lifting swords, testing weights, and rubbing forearms on leather breastplates to polish away dried blood. They examined the goods as if they were at a marketplace. I saw one of them pick up a sword inlaid with red jasper on the hilt. Walther's sword. My foot automatically moved forward, but I caught myself and forced it back into place. Not yet.
"Wait here," Kaden whispered and stepped out of the shadows. I inched closer to a pillar, trying to get my bearings. I saw three dark hallways that led into Sanctum Hall in addition to the one we had entered through. Where did they go, and were they guarded like the one behind me? And most important, did any of them lead to Rafe?
"Where's the Komizar?" Kaden asked in Vendan, speaking to no one in particular, his voice barely cutting through the din.
One governor turned, and then another. The room grew suddenly quiet. "The Assassin is here," said an anonymous voice somewhere at the other end.
There was an uncomfortable pause and then one of the shorter governors, a stout man with multiple red braids that fell past his shoulders, barreled forward and threw his arms around Kaden, welcoming him home. The noise resumed but at a noticeably lower level, and I wondered at the effect an Assassin's presence had on them. It reminded me of Malich and how he had reacted to Kaden on the long trek across the Cam Lanteux. He'd had blood in his eye and was equally matched, but he'd still backed down when Kaden stood his ground.
"The Komizar's been called," the governor told Kaden. "That is, if he comes. He's occupied with —"
"A visitor," Kaden finished.
The governor laughed. "That she is. The kind of visitor I'd like to have."
More governors walked over, and one with a long crooked nose shoved a tankard in Kaden's hand. He welcomed him home and berated him for being gone for so long on holiday. Another governor chided him, saying he was away from Venda more than he was here.
"I go where the Komizar sends me," Kaden answered.
One of the other governors, as big as a bull and with a chest just as wide, lifted his drink in a toast. "As do we all," he replied and threw back his head, taking a long careless swig. Ale sloshed out the sides of his mug and dripped down his beard to the floor. Even this taurine giant hopped when the Komizar snapped his fingers, and he wasn't afraid to admit it.
Though they spoke only in Vendan, I was able to understand nearly everything they said. I knew far more than just the choice words of Venda. Weeks of immersion in their language across the Cam Lanteux had cured my ignorance.
As Kaden answered their questions about his journey, my gaze became fixed on another governor pulling a finely tooled baldrick from the cart and trying to force it around his generous gut. I felt dizzy, sick, and then rage bubbled up through my veins. I closed my eyes. Not yet. Don't get yourself killed in the first ten minutes. That can come later.
I took a deep breath, and when I opened my eyes again, I spotted a face in the shadows. Someone on the other side of the hall was watching me. I couldn't look away. Only a slash of light illuminated his face. His dark eyes were expressionless, but at the same time compelling, fixed like a wolf stalking prey, in no hurry to spring, confident. He casually leaned against a pillar, a younger man than the governors, smooth-faced except for a precise line of beard at his chin and a thin, carefully clipped mustache. His dark hair was unkempt, locks curling just above his shoulders. He didn't wear the furred epaulets of a governor on his shoulders, nor the leather vestments of a soldier, only simple tan trousers and a loose white shirt, and he was certainly in no hurry to attend to anyone, so he wasn't a servant either. His eyes moved past me as if bored, and he took in the rest of the scene, governors pawing through carts and swilling ale. And then Kaden. I saw him watching Kaden.
Heat rushed through my stomach.
He stepped out past the pillar into the middle of the room, and with his first steps, I knew. This was the Komizar.
"Welcome home, comrades!" he called out. The room was instantly silent. Everyone turned toward the voice, including Kaden. The Komizar walked slowly across the expanse and anyone in his path moved back. I stepped out from the shadows to stand by Kaden's side, and a low rumble ran through the room.
The Komizar stopped a few feet from us, ignoring me and staring at Kaden, then finally came forward to embrace him with a genuine welcome.
When he released Kaden and took a step back, he looked at me with a cool, blank gaze. I couldn't quite believe that this was the Komizar. His face was smooth and unwrinkled, a man just a few years older than Walther, more like an older brother to Kaden than a fearsome leader. He wasn't exactly the formidable Dragon of the Song of Venda — the one who drank blood and stole dreams. His stature was only average, nothing daunting about him at all except for his unwavering stare.
"What's this?" he asked in Morrighese almost as flawless as Kaden's, nodding his head toward me. A game player. He knew exactly who I was and wanted to be sure I understood every word.
"Princess Arabella, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan," Kaden answered.
Another restrained hush ran through the room. The Komizar chuckled. "Her? A princess?"
He slowly circled around me, viewing my rags and filth as if in disbelief. He paused at my side, where the fabric was torn from my shoulder and the kavah was exposed. He uttered a quiet hmm as if mildly amused, then ran the back of his finger down the length of my arm. My skin crawled, but I lifted my chin, as if he were merely an annoying fly buzzing about the room. He completed his circle until he faced me again. He grunted. "Not very impressive, is she? But then, most royals aren't. About as entrancing as a bowl of week-old mush."
Only a month ago, I would have jumped at the baited remark, tearing him to shreds with a few hot words, but now I wanted to do far more than insult him. I returned his gaze with one of my own, matching his empty expression blink for blink. He rubbed the back of his hand along the line of his thin, carefully sculpted beard, studying me.
"It's been a long journey," Kaden explained. "A hard one for her."
The Komizar raised his brows, feigning surprise. "It needn't have been," he said. He raised his voice so the whole hall would be sure to hear, though his words were still directed at Kaden. "I seem to remember I ordered you to slice her throat, not bring her back as a pet."
Tension sparked in the air. No one lifted a tankard to their lips. No one moved. Perhaps they waited for the Komizar to walk over to the carts, draw a sword, and send my head rolling down the middle of the room, which certainly in their eyes was his right. Kaden had defied him.
But there was something between Kaden and the Komizar, something I still didn't quite understand. A hold of some sort.
"She has the gift," Kaden explained. "I thought she'd be more useful to Venda alive than dead."
At the mention of the word gift, I saw glances exchanged among the servants and governors, but still, no one said a word. The Komizar smiled, at once chilling and magnetic. My neck prickled. This was a man who knew how to control a room with the lightest touch. He was showing his hand. Once I knew his strengths, I might discover his weaknesses too. Everyone had them. Even the feared Komizar.
"The gift!" He laughed and turned to everyone else, expecting them to laugh in kind. They did.
He looked back to me, the smile gone, then reached out and took my hand in his. He examined my injuries, his thumb gently skimming the back of my hand. "Does she have a tongue?"
This time it was Malich who laughed, stepping over to the table in the center of the room and slamming down his mug. "Like a cackling hyena. And her bite is just as nasty." The chievdar spoke up, concurring. Murmurs rose from the soldiers.
"And yet," the Komizar said, turning back to me, "she remains silent."
"Lia," Kaden whispered, nudging me with his arm, "you can speak."
I looked at Kaden. He thought I didn't know that? Did he really think it was his warning that had silenced me? I had been silenced far too many times by those who exerted power over me. Not here. My voice would be heard, but I'd speak when it served my purposes. I betrayed neither word nor expression. The Komizar and his governors were no different from the throngs I had passed on my way here. They were curious. A real princess of Morrighan. I was on display. The Komizar wanted me to perform before him and his Legion of Governors. Did they expect jewels to spill from my mouth? More likely, whatever I said would find ridicule, just as my appearance already had. Or the back of his hand. There were only two things a man in the Komizar's position expected, defiance or groveling, and I was certain that neither would improve my lot.
Excerpted from The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson. Copyright © 2015 Mary E. Pearson. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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
This novel is absoltely stunning! I couldn't put it down and whenever I did, I couldnt stop thinking of what would come next. Lia, Rafe, and Kaden are so interesting and i love how you know what each one is thinking. This book is fast paced, has you on the edge of your seat the whole time, and there were many moments where i was freaking out with what happened. I highly highly recommend it to anyone!! By far one of my favorite books and series!!
I've been discouraged lately by my literary pickings. I am so glad I stumbled across this series. There are few series I have to reread immediately upon finishing, but that's exactly what I did. There were a few unanswered questions, but overall the world-building and character development were spot-on, this is a series you'll want to clear your schedule for.
Now that The Beauty of Darkness is on the shelves, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to reread The Heart of Betrayal since I didn’t get around to it the first time! Plus, I definitely needed a recap for the last book. My sentiments for this one are pretty similar to my review of The Kiss of Deception so if you will definitely get some echoes of that in this one. Lia remains the awesome heroine that I remember her to be. Granted, I find her a little too awesome at times, but the acts of valor and kindness that she performs for the poverty-stricken citizens of Venda makes those occasions okay. By the end of The Kiss of Deception, she finds herself at the mercy of both the Kozimar and the governing body of Venda. Instead of being a damsel, she rises up and uses her wit to become a formidable adversary to the Kozimar while bringing hope to his people. I admire her for what she’s willing to sacrifice to find her way back home to Morrighan and her family, and how much she’s willing to pretend to keep her friends and loved ones safe. I recall one of my favorite moments happens at the end of the book, and also one of the most tragic when she realizes what she must do to stop the Kozimar. And I silently cheered for her when she changes the hierarchy of Venda, but at the cost of one of her dearest friends. She falls a lot to what I imagine is her lowest points, but she rises - so much that it gets her to the other side of the river ;). I will say that I was a bit disappointed with Rafe. I loved him to bits - he was the guy I was rooting for in The Kiss of Deception and I still love him! I do love him to bits, but I wish that he played a more active role in this book. I understand that there are more important things to write about, but I wanted to read more about him in the story. I was taken aback when Kaden confronted Lia about SPOILERhis gift and how he said he saw himself and Lia together with a babyEND SPOILER which made me question where my SHIP IS SAILING! It made me wonder if all those times he was charming with Calantha were really for show. Eugh, my feelings are messed up. Kaden surprised me. He definitely surprised me and made me fall in love with him. I feel like...while The Kiss of Deception was more about Rafe, The Heart of Betrayal was where Kaden shined. He comes far from being the Assassin and grows into this complex, so amazingly developed character that makes my heart grow full for him - a heart that becomes so pained when he reveals more about himself to Lia and to me as the reader. He deserves more and becomes the character I rooted for - when Lia finds out who he really is, how he became part of the Vendan society, how he got his scars, and who his real family is, I gave internal screams that made me want to throw myself onto the floor and beat it with my first because Rafe deserves more than what’s he’s gotten in life. I love that Pearson gave me a real look into Venda after exploring different parts of her world in The Kiss of Deception. Authors who are able to balance their dedication to different parts of their worldbuilding instead of focusing on one part. The whole point of worldbuilding is to immerse a reader into a good-to-honest fleshed out realm where nothing comes off as BS. The best fantasy writers are successful at this and I am pretty sure I know more about Venda, Dalbreck, and Morrighan than I do about the United States (which is kind of sad) which totally proves how good Pearson is.
Beautiful descriptions but very slow moving. I felt the author needed more dialogue and detail for the romantic parts. Perfect for middle and high school age. Not for adults, not advanced enough.
This book was so interesting to read! It's one that you just cannot put down.
“I hope I can make you fall in love with me again, this time as a prince, one day at a time. We’ve had a terrible start- it doesn’t mean we can’t have a better ending.” So much is revealed in this book. A possible love triangle, deepening relationships, and many people who aren’t what they seem. Just a lot happens. I am very much in love with this series. I love both Kaden and Rafe depending on what page I am on, and it takes a great author to make me love both characters who are so different. Both men offer Lia such different lives too, but I can see Lia doing well in either environment as long as she is allowed to use her strengths and protect those she loves. “The universe sang your name to me. I simply sang it back.” I especially love how much growth we see in Lia’s character. She just learns so much more about who she is, and it what it means to find truth and value in other’s, even if you were taught to see them a certain way. She is fierce in her protectiveness, and capable of becoming whoever she needs to to survive and protect who she cares about. Watching her own her power is really the most enticing part of the story for me. I give this book 5 stars, and this series has serious potential to be one of my all time favorites. I find myself comparing it to Throne of Glass series, by Sarah J. Maas, which is very much a favorite of mine. The main female character is definitely comes across as softer in this book, but I feel like the series has many of the same elements.
Highly recommended. Its been a long time since a read this good of a series. Each book a Is about 300-400pgs. The characters are great and have depth to each one. Lots of plots twists and turns to keep the reader intrested. Best to start with book one.
This was good, but I found it a little lacking compared to the first book. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars. After the overly descriptive beginning of the last book, I absolutely loved the rest. But this one felt really slow to me for the most part; I get that the author had to set the stage (so to speak) for the rest of the story, but I kept waiting for something exciting to happen. There was just too much setup and talking going on. Those last several chapters were so good though! I cried a little while reading certain passages, and I was even waiting impatiently to see what would happen when it got more intense/interesting. I still like Lia a lot. I love Rafe, and I like Kaden a lot too. We don’t see as much of Kaden’s companions in this book, but we do see them every once in a while. I loved the introduction of new characters like Aster, and Calantha. Overall, it was a good book; I guess I was just expecting it to be more exciting given the summary.
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson *4 Stars* Review: WOW!!! The second half of this book was truly epic! I loved every minute of it! It had so much action, plotting, scheming, etc. Such an interesting read. I will say, the first half dragged a bit for me. I felt we spent too much time describing things, in a character's head playing out too many different random things, etc. I kept wanting to skim over parts just to get to the "good stuff". It wasn't terrible by any means, just a bit too slow paced for me in the beginning. The characters blew me away in this one. They had so much depth to them. I loved the villains as much as the heroes. The author has an impeccable talent for creating such great characters good or bad. I also loved how we were never quite sure about the intentions of each person. They had a way of making you believe they were both good and bad at the same time. As far as the two men go....without spoiling anything.....I love them both!! Gahhhh, can't we just have separate conclusions where she ends up with both? Lol! I literally went back and forth with who I liked more for Lia. For myself, I'm Team Kaden *googly eyes*, but for Lia....I can't decide. You'll have to read the book/series to decide what you think and to see how it all ends! I highly recommend it! Overall, there's so much I want to say BUT I do not want to spoil anyone. This is a can't miss series. It's so good and will leave you wanting the next book asap!!
If you read my review of The Kiss of Deception, you'll know that I really was entranced by the first book in this series. Pearson kept the tension high as she didn't reveal Rafe and Kaden's true identities until almost the very end of the book. That really hooked me as a reader. I have to admit as I turned to Book 2, I had my doubts whether she could keep the tension as high. Admittedly the tension was different in this book in the series. But, despite the mystery being revealed, this book really focused on Lia and her growth as a character as she began to mature into a true heroine. In fact, all the main characters in this book really continued to develop. A great sequel to Book 1, I wonder how Pearson is going to bring this trilogy to a conclusion in Book 3.
Really great book! Ive read a lot of teen books and at some point tney all start to sound the same but this one really nailed it!
I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose friends over this review, but I really think this series just isn't for me. To be honest I think it was just the narrator. If I had been reading this book out right, I would have liked it so much more I think. It would not have bothered me so much if I had a different voice, but I just didn't care for the narrator. Maybe I'll try again with reading it myself to find out what all the five stars are about. The second thing was the hype. I wasn't a fan of the first one for the same reason, so when I got to this one I just KNEW it was going to be a good one. And yet it started out the same. I wanted to know about all that happened with the characters, but then it just didn't seem to be any different to me. I think I may be just consulting Recaptains to see what happens at the end that has everyone dying. But all in all, this took me so long to try reading because I was falling asleep and having to rewind it and then I couldn't get myself to pay attention. To be honest I think I checked out after the first one. I wasn't a fan so I went into the next one not excited about it already. As the black sheep I was terrified to write this review, so please don't shun me lol I want to maybe try again by reading the actual book and not the audio. Maybe that might work better for me.
Book two carries on the epic journey that Lia and Rafe have taken. This book is fraught with treachery, cruelty, hope, and sacrifice. The end of this book was a real white knuckler. Wow.
This may have been better than the first one. It's simply amazing.
Really enjoyed the whole series. Great read!!
The first book was very good! And I didn't think it could get any better, but it did!!!! Love this series!
“I beg your forgiveness, Your Eminence. I would not truly feed your face to the hogs. It might make them sick.” The following review contains spoilers for The Kiss of Deception. If you haven’t read the first book in The Remnant Chronicles, it might be best to revisit this review when you have. It is rare that I like a book better the second time around. Usually, I spend the reread nitpicking things that I glossed over the first time. That wasn’t the case with The Heart of Betrayal. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did gloss over things the first time through. I was still reeling from the Kaden/Rafe switch-a-roo, which left me focused on the romance and not the world building or the character development that goes on outside of the romance. The romance doesn’t take center stage in this book. The guessing game is over. Rafe is truly Prince Jaxon of Dalbreck and Kaden is Venda’s Assassin, right hand of the Komizar. Now that this information is out in the open, the relationships develop more organically, and the characters begin to progress on their own. Lia embraces her name, her gift, and her situation. She stops spending so much time mooning over Rafe and instead devotes her time to gathering information and planning her escape. She becomes a character you can really love and root for instead of a love sick lost princess. Kaden’s development is also solid. He begins to question his place in the country he loves so much and his loyalty to its leader. Sadly, Rafe remains under developed, which probably has something to do with the fact that the other two have a deep emotional connection to Venda, and Rafe doesn’t. We are introduced to an entirely new cast of supporting characters. While I love Pauline and friends as much as anyone else, they suffered due to the distracting romance shtick of the first book. The supporting characters in this book get more attention and feel more real. The Komizar is a clear standout, though. I love a good political schemer, and boy is he good. He plots, he schemes, and he never lets and opportunity go to waste. After all, Venda doesn’t take prisoners, unless, of course, they present a very unique opportunity. The real star of the novel is Venda. Far more detailed that its rival Morrighan, Venda is lush and vivid. Each place Lia visits leaves a mark on her and in turn leaves a mark on the reader. The author really succeeded in making the reader fall in love with Venda alongside Lia. I almost wish that the entire series took place in Venda, because it has the best world building of all the warring nations. That said, I think the other nations feel underdeveloped because they don’t have the same impact on the main character and therefore don’t get the same amount of attention. Lia’s connection to Venda is spiritual and that translates beautifully to the reader. With the pacing of the story picking up, The Heart of Betrayal offers a better mix of romance, action, and intrigue than The Kiss of Deception. It continues the tradition of Pearson’s beautiful writing style, but it ditches the shtick for real character development and stunning world building. If you enjoyed the first one, you should be over the moon for the sequel. I know I was.
Why can't there be a special 10-star rating for this series? This is the first book I have taken the time to review, but this is one I want to share with the world! To avoid giving anything away, it must be know that this series has incredible writing. The story is original. The main character, Lia is a strong and admirable character. There is one downside with this book... I am now dying for August to come! I can't wait for the conclusion!
WARNING: Because of the nature of this series, this review will unavoidably spoil the first novel, The Kiss of Deception, if you haven’t already read it. You’ve been warned. As always, it has been far too long since I’ve read this book to just be sitting down to write the review for it now. Nonetheless, I will endeavor to communicate my love for The Heart of Betrayal. When I finished The Kiss of Deception, I hoped for more. I enjoyed it and it left quite the impact on me but I hoped Pearson would dive further into the world of The Remnant Chronicles. What makes these nations tick? Who are these people really? For months afterward, I hoped that the stakes would increase with the sequel. The Remnant Chronicles had so much potential and I wanted to see more. I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, I can’t think of a negative thing to say about this book. I’m still just as torn as ever with who Lia should be in love with. On the hand, there’s Kaden and on the other there’s Rafe. Both are good people at their core, but Kaden has made a lot of mistakes. Kaden has a trouble past. However, Kaden did his best to protect Lia while she was in Venda. He isn’t heartless and that’s what makes this so difficult. Yes, he is the reason Lia is there in the first place but he also loves her and doesn’t know how that fits in with the lies that have been repeated since he was a young boy. There’s quite a lot vying for his attention. Kaden’s heart is his most redeeming quality. It’s also the one thing that puts him at the most risk. Rafe… well, who can’t like Rafe? He’s perfect without being annoying. I don’t mean literally perfect. Yes, he makes mistakes but Rafe didn’t have to end up in Venda. Rafe could have turned away but he went looking for Lia and goes through a lot because of that. Through it all though, he never blames her. He never hates her for it. He only wishes he could get her to safety. I like Rafe and I won’t be sad if Lia ends up with him; but I won’t be sad if she ends up with Kaden either. As it is though, I have my own predictions for Kaden… Venda is an interesting place, wrought with poverty. The commoners are welcoming but the elite are cruel and many of them barbaric. I actually found each exploration into the desert country quite interesting and enlightening. I’ve already delved into the Komizar quite a bit so I’ll keep it short. The Komizar has deceived an entire nation. He wants power and pretends to want to save his people from such debilitating starvation, but he starves them in his own way and it’s marvelous to see how much he can contradict himself. Despite his obvious issues (what with his being evil and all), I liked the Komizar. He was the perfect addition to the Remnant Chronicles and brought an interesting dynamic to the book that kept me guessing as to what type of person he would end up being. Was he really the monster Rafe believed? Or was he flawed yet good in his own way as Kaden saw him for much of the book? Lia was caught in this web as well and I basically mirrored her as she ping-ponged between her opinion. As far as the actual world building goes, bring it on. Pearson really explored The Gift in this book quite a bit and wove it into Venda and Morrighan’s history. Lia is skilled at translating ancient texts and she continues to do so in The Heart of Betrayal, revealing a much more complicated world than I had anticipated. I’m not quite sure what the author plans on doing with all of this information but I do kno
It has a great plot, with many twists, surprises and evil incarnate chasing, finding, capturing our heroine. Her heart is captured by two men. I was captured after the first chapter.