Honestly, reading this book I had no idea what to expect. Maybe because I'm not sure at all how assassinations were carried out in the 15th century. Or what were the motives around most assassinations. By reading this bok, I have a little insight in it.
Ismae, our main, twenty-year-old heroine, is terrifying (Yes, the book cover says she's seventeen, but that's only for perhaps 1/16 of the book. There's time skip.) Truly. When she's alone and afraid, she puts her faith and trust in the Death god, Mortain. But Lordie ... they way she kills -- I never want to be near her. And yet, she is capable of emotion, of softness and vulnerability, which she realizes near the end of the book. Throughout the storyline, it is her pride that keeps her going -- she tries to show everyone that because she is a woman (and women are very used in this time period, I presume) she is not weak. She won't falter, and she won't beg. This is what her training at the convent has taught her; or rather, what she has taught herself.
I love the growth that occurs in Ismae -- most definitely brilliant. She grows from someone who thinks her heart and duty belongs to Mortain (not romantically) to someone who realizes that he does not wish for his servants to dedicate themselves fully
to him, but rather just live their lives, in accordance to him. Here's a paragraph I found so powerful and a definite source of Ismae's growth: "I feel Him kiss my brow, a chill weight on my forehead. In this kiss is absolution, yes, but understanding as well. Understanding that it is He that I serve, not the convent. His divine sparks within me, a presence that will never leave. And I am but one of many tools He has at His disposal. If I cannot act -- if I refuse to act -- that is a choice I am allowed to make. He has given me life, and all I must do to serve Him is live
. Fully and with my whole heart. With this knowledge comes a true understanding of all the gifts He has given me." (pg. 523)
The characterization is a definite plus. (:
As for the plotline, here's where I count off a star.
Honestly, it was all very confusing. I had trouble finding out who was who, what was the greatest problem of all, who was the traitor, etc. Most of the plotline was actually predictable, to tell the truth, but I guess that was because the author foreshadowed so much.
Overall, a good read. 4/5