Review: The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore

Series: Chronicles of Ghadid, #2
Published by: Tor Books
ISBN: 0765398575
ISBN 13: 9780765398574
Published: November 2019
Pages: 368
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: The Perfect Assassin (Chronicles of Ghadid, #1)

Thana is the main character of book two. We saw her first book, often mentioned and seen here and there, but the focus was on Amastan as we saw him do his final trial and become an assassin, then stumble across a murder mystery. Here, the roles are reversed; Amastan is now often mentioned and seen here and there, but Thana, daughter of the most infamous assassin Ghadid has ever known, is the star of the show.

Now old enough to be an assassin in her own right, big things are expected of The Serpents’ daughter. Kept hidden for most of her life (acting as though her uncle was in fact her immediate family, so those who are aware The Serpent is more than a scary story don’t take out any past grievances on her) Thana is finally given her first contract. She immediately turns to Amastan to partner for such an important job, and from there they start what they’re best at. Gaining intel, sneaking into places in the dark, and wielding their lethal skills.

Only the mark is an incredibly powerful (and magical) right-hand man of the Empress – we didn’t see much of her in the first book, but we soon learn she believes that she rules over Ghadid. Usually her palace is too far away from Ghadid for her rule to really matter; it’s just the occasional stirrings over who thinks they own what part of sandy map; and… initially, that’s why Thana has been given this job, she thinks. To send a powerful message to the Empress. War is said to be coming soon anyway… it may as well be on Ghadid’s own terms.

Usually I hate a character POV change; I get attached to a character over the passage of a whole book, and if it isn’t obvious that it’s going to happen I get really cranky that I have to leave a favourite behind. Only Doore does this really, really well, and pulls it off flawlessly. We see enough of Amastan at the start and get to see him from another POV who cares about him like a brother that it’s just as good to see him. Then, we get to care for Thana more and more, and don’t miss Amastan as much as I’d expect when the plot naturally focuses on Thana and mentions of Amastan, though still constant, are less.

Kudos to Doore; very few have managed to pull that one off so well on me (and I realise there’s never anything wrong with a character POV change from book to book… it’s just my own preference), I just want to nail it down how well Doore pulls this off.

Also, thank you for giving us a gay main character again, and how this doesn’t matter in the slightest. Nor a mention or grimace to be seen. It’s simply attraction.

Our other main characters are Heru; the mark, and Mo; a healer who heals Thana after something goes awry and then sticks around through her own set of steadfast morals and belief in her G-d given powers that she is to play a part in the protection of Ghadid and their people. And this explores much of what it means to rely on water, waste water, and a whole lot about power, the rights of animals, honouring the dead, and countless others.

Doore’s study of both political and power weighing too far or too little to either side, character study in how you can take such an annoying character and both show what drives them and how they come to make their decisions (trying not to give too much away here, but it’s not Thana… Thana is a little blind to her own limits at times but gosh is her heart in the right place!)

Both books stand alone, really; but they’re so good you want to read them all. I can’t wait for the third one, The Unconquered City. Possibly coming out in June 2020 currently.

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