Series: Chronicles of Ghadid, #1
Published by: Tor Books
ISBN 13: 9780765398550
Published: March 2019
Format reviewed: Kindle ebook
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: The Impossible Contract (The Chronicles of Ghadid #2)
In the land of Ghadid, water is scarce. Much like Glenda Larke’s Watergivers series the book revolves around the power and need of water, the waiting for the next season of storms, and it adds an impending sense of desperation (on top of the other drivers of the plot, as they’re all coming to ahead), as the characters also have to keep in mind where they might be getting their next sip of water from.
Our main character is Amastan, Stan to his friends, who are mainly cousins. He is part of the Basbowen family who train to be assassins. Although Ghadid is ruled by a council of drum chiefs, their will is enforced by the Basbowen family where required, and we get to see several interesting instances of this throughout the book. It isn’t always as simple as ‘man did crime’ and thus, is killed. A lot more comes into it than that – such as what rank does the criminal hold, and what is best for their family. Sometimes, a quiet knocking off serves a family better than public spectacle and shaming would. This side of things certainly gives this assassin story a different edge to it, separating it from most assassin novels I’ve read in the last decade.
We start the novel with Amastan facing his last challenge before he is given the title of assassin. He’s been training for this for years, and now it all comes down to this… although, once we’re past this (I mean, of course he gets in else it wouldn’t be much of a novel past that first chapter) we find out that being an assassin is practically outlawed currently, and it has been for years. Because they can only kill when the council arranges a contract, and contracts haven’t been happening for a while now… for reasons that remain a mystery for now, to our new young killers. They’re told to keep their skills sharp but to otherwise go about their ‘normal’ daily duties.
Amastan’s ‘day job’ is a historian/scribe, and he happens to work for the partner of The Serpant (the head of the family of assassins). It’s through this easy access to their history that he is able to piece together a drama that falls right into his lap – or, moreso, that he literally trips over. Because Amastan one day finds the dead body of a current Drum Chief. And if they’re not careful, their family will soon be blamed for breaking the law – after all, who could be responsible for killing someone so perfectly other than the family of assassins?
So it’s down to Amastan to figure out who’s killing people without contracts but seemingly with the skill of being part of the Basbowen family. And through this, we get to see the varied city of Ghadid and the customs they live by, as, when a body is killed and left without being treated appropriately, its spirit can wreak havoc. It turns into a monstrous spirit that can harm or even possess another human.
As you can see from the above, the plot certainly has enough going for it – it’s always hard to put this book down because you honestly need to know what’s going to happen next. Additionally the characters are excellent, from the Serpent head of the family being a complex character even though we don’t get to see much of her, from Amastan who is a thoughtful and hesitant hero, to his cousins, and the love interest. What I loved was the varied relationships throughout this book – nothing is made of the fact Amastan is most likely asexual or possibly demisexual, and his love interest is male. Other relationships are f/f, and it’s utterly normal as it damn well should be. Love it.
Book two, The Impossible Contract, is due out November 12, 2019. Which is excellent as I need more.
Currently The Unconquered City (book three, the final book), is due June 2020.