The plot is very much political, with a dash of magic thrown in. Zayn is this fierce girl who is held down by a religion she doesn’t even believe in. Her longing for freedom and independence makes her the first female Assassin. It isn’t an easy journey for her, with her despising her femininity and seeing enmity all around her. Her story is beautiful in the way she grows out of her negative emotions, despite her tragic life. Earic was quite an interesting character, and I really hoped more was said about his past. I know the focus was on Zayn but a little more of his backstory would have enriched the story.
The writing is so eloquent, and echoes the feel of that era well, flowing smoothly as the story progresses. However, the ending kind of dampened the book a little – it was not so much as how the story ended but more about how it was written. There is a distinct shift in the writing style which makes it seem rushed – it seemed a bit out of place. The reveals at the end also didn’t make sense fully, but was sort of okay. I would point out that fans of Throne of Glass series would love to enjoy this novel.
Featured on my blog here: http://thebibliohphile.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/knight-assassin-by-rima-jean/
"...I thought my life was over."
Zayn looked up suddenly, the soapy bath water rippling from her. "Was it?"
Aysha smiled. "No. It was a brutal beginning."
Knight Assassin follows Zayn, a young girl living in the village of Rafaniyah at the time of the French invasion of Syria. Zayn has had strange powers all her life, and she's faster and stronger than any normal human being. But her whole village loathes her and her mother Miriam because she's illegitimate. Rumours spread about Zayn's powers, and Guy de Molay, a Templar Knight, has Miriam burned at the stake while Zayn watches. He then rapes her and leaves her for dead. Just then, a passing stranger offers her a chance to get her revenge on Guy if he will come with her. Zayn agrees, and the man takes her to the Assassins. Dun dun dun.
I'm sorry. I don't know why I just thought of that. So we follow Zayn's assassin training, and then she leaves to seek out Guy and get her revenge. It's pretty great.
Anyway, Knight Assassin was a step for me in that it had a really different setting from what I'm used to. The descriptions of Jerusalem, the Leper King's court, the entire setting was so interesting - I'm assuming it's historically accurate. But the best thing about this book was undoubtedly Zayn.
Except her iffy name, Zayn is everything I look for in a strong heroine. She's special because of her powers, yes, but that makes her anything but a star student. She still has to work just as much as anyone else to be a good assassin. She still has to go through the same training. And she had such believable, excellent development - going from self-loathing after her rape to something else, not hating her body. It's an inspiring journey, and I loved reading it. Her life at court was fascinating too, with the added bonus of badass superstar Lady Marguerite.
I'm a little unsure about the romance, though - it turned out a bit much considering she'd only known him for a short time when she was twelve. That didn't make it any less cutesy to read about though, and I really like both Zayn and Earic as characters.
All in all, this was a really enjoyable book, and I look forward to reading the author's next books.