Severed Empire: Assassin’s Promise
Blodwyn (Wyn) is only 10 years old when he vows revenge upon the King’s Watch who killed both his parents. After being expelled from the orphanage, Wyn manages to live on his own, taking shelter in a small wood. Wyn’s life changes when, after meeting young Zeta and watching her fight off two bandits with help from Racheed, he begins training as Rasheed’s apprentice. The two accept Wyn’s first assignment and with the help of Anna, a sorceress, they set off to complete it. Unfortunately, things do not go exactly as planned and Anna is hunted by the same Watch that murdered Wyn’s parents. Will Wyn’s conscience enable him to fulfill his plans for revenge?
Theme of the Book
In Assassin’s Promise there is a constant conflict between the desire for revenge and the claims of conscience and morality. The main character, Wyn, is torn between wanting to avenge the deaths of his parents and his innate moral judgment that killing is wrong. This is a universal theme that Mr. Tomasso’s novel explores with skill.
What I Liked About the Story
The pace of the action is quick and lively. There is no chance for a reader to become bored as the plot develops quickly and logically. The scenes of action – the training and fight scenes – are well done. They are not graphically violent but full of movement and life.
As the story begins, the reader is introduced to the main character, Wyn. He begins the story as a 10 year old and there is not much indication of his age at the end of the novel, but we must assume he is no more than a teenager. Wyn is an independent, resourceful young man from the beginning. He is determined to exact revenge for his parents’ deaths but as he matures, we see him develop a sense of morality and a conscience. The conflict between his desire for revenge and his conscience only grows as Wyn trains and accepts his first assignment to kill a prince. Wyn is, from the beginning of his training, obviously not cut out to be an assassin. He is capable of forming strong attachments to others and truly cares about the welfare of his friends. Watching Wyn grow and mature is one of the high points of Mr. Tomasso’s story.
Rasheed is another fascinating character. Does the fact of his having a Middle Eastern name lead back to the cult of assassins? Until the end of the novel, he maintains his cold, professional demeanor.
The use of magic and the insertion of magical beings (dragons and trolls) is not overdone. This allows the reader to become more involved in the life of Wyn, a pleasant change from more magic-centered fantasies.
What I Didn’t Like About the Story
The motive for all of Rasheed’s actions is not revealed until the last chapter of Assassin’s Promise and then in only a brief way. Up to this point, Rasheed has been a cool but understandable character, a professional with no moral qualms about his work. To find that his motive was different all along is to undermine the character that has been developed throughout the story. Without going into detail and thus revealing the motive, I can say that I was disappointed.
Secondly, we learn at the beginning that the King’s Watch is on a mission to search out and destroy all practitioners of magic. There is never a reason given for this mission. We do not know if the hatred and fear of magic is based on religious belief, superstition, or something else. In most fantasy, magic is seen as an asset. Why is it seen as a danger here?
There are one or two editing problems. At a couple of points in the novel, the narration suddenly changes from 1st person to 3rd. There are some minor problems with word choice or possibly typographical errors (“hoover” as opposed to “hover”). Finally, there is a big jump in time and place between Chapters 23 and 24 making the beginning of Chapter 24 confusing to the reader.
Assassin’s Promise is a very well-written novel with deep and believable relationships between the characters and enough action to keep most readers interested. While there is some violence, it is not enough to keep this novel from a YA audience. The theme of revenge and conscience is applicable to all ages and readers of fantasy will find this a good addition to their libraries.