- Page Count: 384
- Release Date: September 5, 2017
- My Rating: 2 stars
Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.
But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.
I read this because the description said it was perfect for fans of Bardugo and Maas, but this is nowhere near the same level of writing or creative story. I can see how the competition feels like the one in Throne of Glass, buuuut it’s pretty much just a Hunger Games ripoff.
The only thing this book has going for it is Sal, the gender fluid thief who’s the main character. Sal likes to be referred to as he/she/they depending on what they’re wearing. The explanations of what it meant to Sal to be gender fluid were well done, so I added another star!
But otherwise the plot was cliche, the writing and pacing were clunky, and nothing held my interest.
The main idea is that Sal and 22 other people are brought together in a competition to the death to win a place with the Queen’s Left Hand. Sal robbed a pretty noble girl at the start of the story and she comes into the plot again later. Sal is from a poor background like Katniss and kind of the underdog. All of the contestants are referred to by numbers — Sal is 23. (Referring to everyone by numbers definitely made them hard to care about or distinguish, too).
The scenes where they’re all training with weapons or waiting to be examined by the
gamemakers people running the competition reminded me SO much of The Hunger Games. Sal is the last to go in and needs to impress them:
I rose, rolling my shoulders back, and took long, steady strides to the door.
Let the audition begin.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC. The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.