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by Mai Corland

Pub Date: May 7th, 2024
ISBN: 9781649376909
Publisher: Red Tower

A team of unlikely partners comes together to assassinate a supposedly unkillable king in Corland’s series opener.

A pickpocket and her hired muscle. A highly trained poison assassin and the count’s son who holds the key to her and her sick sister’s freedom. The royal spymaster and the exiled prince. This is the team that just might be able to pull off executing King Joon, the king who calls himself a god. Mikail, the spymaster, knows Joon’s secret: He isn’t truly immortal; he’s just unkillable so long as he’s wearing his crown. The plan? Kill Joon at the massively public tuhko championship game. Aeri the pickpocket will swipe the crown, Sora the assassin will kiss Joon with her poisoned lipstick, and when he dies, the disgraced prince Euyn will be there to take the throne. The plan is so delicate that no one is particularly confident it will succeed, but they each have their own private reasons for dethroning the despotic Joon that are persuasive enough to make them go along with it. The journey is perilous, with pirates and street gangs getting in the way, and then there’s the possibility of a traitor in their midst. Passing from character to character, Corland effectively builds dramatic tension by letting the reader in on enough secrets to show why each conspirator wants to kill the king, but also why each one might betray the group. The prose itself is underdeveloped, with the rotating first-person narration coming off awkwardly. But the final twist lands well as both an ending to this story and a setup for installments to come.

An uneven but promising fantasy adventure.