Just as there are times when I go into a book, really looking forward to it and I end up disappointed, there are also times when I start a book with a bit of trepidation and wind up really liking it. The latter is the experience I had with Anna Kashina’s Shadowblade.
Naia is a young woman who would love to join the ranks of the elite Jaihar and become a Blademaster. Her natural talent is evident but so is her temper. When she assaults one of her tutors she suspects her dreams of becoming a Blademaster are completely dashed. What she doesn’t know is that Dal Gassan, head of the Daljeer Circle, has been watching her and has special plans for the young girl. She is to be trained as a Jaihar and then impersonate the legendary Princess Xarimet of Challimar and lay claim as the legitimate heir to the throne.
Jai Karrim, the top Blademaster in the Jaihar (and one awfully sexy man, to whom Naia has long been attracted), will train her and then be her escort (and Dal Gassan’s insurance that Naia won’t try to keep the throne once she gets it). What could go wrong?
In many ways this book is a YA “Mary Sue” novel (Google the term if you don’t know what I mean). But otherwise this has just about everything it needs to be an exciting read. It’s got action – lots and lots of fighting (mostly training, but not entirely), some mystery and intrigue, betrayal, a few twists and turns in the plot, and romance and sex. I didn’t need the explicit sex – something a little more discreet and private seemed more in line with the characters and story. It also struck me that everything about the sex, and her partner, were perfect.
But overall I really enjoyed this story. I really liked the character of Naia – brassy but determined, with a natural gift. I even liked Karrim, even though he seemed unrealistically perfect. Of course that would be one of the attractions in a Mary Sue story – the perfect man who treats the main female character, well, perfectly.
The betrayal wasn’t too much of a surprise, though the reasons for it were.
It would seem to me that we’re only beginning a longer story here, but this book is a complete book (beginning, middle, end) and is very satisfying.
Looking for a good book? Shadowblade by Anna Kashina is a very exciting YA fantasy. The main characters don’t seem to have any flaws – which is actually a little bit boring – but it is a fun, quick read.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Anna Kashina
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 432 pages