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    Review of THE ASSASSIN KING by Elizabeth Haydon (see her website)


    Tor, January 2007

    The Regent (and future Emperor) of Sarbold is intent on conquest--and is using lies, trickery, and secrets to bring his own nation and reluctant allies into the battle. The land, he believes, is intended to be united, and it must be united under its native inhabitants. This means, of course, that Rhapsody and her demi-Dragon husband Ashe, are prime targets. Ashe insists that Rhapsody and their infant son be protected, and the underground kingdom of Rhapsody's old friend, the Assassin King, Achmed, is the safest place he knows.

    Meanwhile, the dragon Anwyn struggles to recover from the wounds that Rhapsody and Achmed gave her--and dreams of revenge, and another assassin travels the land breathing the names of the demons he hunts, and the long-lost name that Achmed carried so many hundreds of years earlier.

    Author Elizabeth Haydon (see more reviews of novels by Haydon) has combined powerful worldbuilding with real characters who grow, learn, and who have complex relationships with one another. Until now, she's also done the unusual in series fantasy--she's produced a number of books without the inevitable 'transition' volume where nothing really happens and everything is setup. Until now because, unfortunately, THE ASSASSIN KING is that story. Not that there's not action in THE ASSASSIN KING--Haydon wouldn't let us down that much. Most of the first hundred pages of this book consist of a meeting where participants update one another on the Sarbold plans, with Rhapsody's journey, the trip of her niece toward a different destination, and Anwyn's trip to a long-lost city where healing was possible fills the remainder.

    Haydon is a story-teller rather than a wordsmith. In the earlier books, the power of her ideas and the well-developed characters played to her strength. In this story, I couldn't help being jarred by awkward English.

    THE ASSASSIN KING is not a bad book and fans of the series (like me) will want to grab a copy (although they may choose to wait for the paperback version). It's certainly not the book you'll want to start with, however. Do yourself a favor and start with RHAPSODY (see our review). Once you're hooked, even lesser works, like this one, will hold your interest.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 2/19/07

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