Review: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
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Series: #2 in the Remnant Chronicles
Release date: July 7th, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (Macmillan)
Length: 470 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: THIS IS FREAKIN' AWESOMEEEE
Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.
Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.
The thing about The Heart of Betrayal is that it's so totally different from The Kiss of Deception that is should feel like a mismatch, or jarring, but mostly, it feels awesome. TKoD was crack fantasy with fun ship wars and a snarky heroine and mystery galore, but THoB is the DEEP, GOOD, BLOODY, TWISTY, BRUTAL BAD ASS STUFF. It's so fun. It's full of girl power, and plotting, and lies upon lies which is basically the hallmark of this series. But basically, this book is made of crack and win and badassery and magic and lush writing and LIA. LIA. FOR. QUEEN.
Okay. Coherency. We can do this.
|shut up Tyra|
We left off at the end of TKoD with Lia and Rafe finally learning who the other was just as Kaden, Assassin of Venda, has brought them as prisoners to the harsh and unforgiving country of Venda to be put upon the mercy of the extra harsh and extra unforgiving Komizar. It will take all their smarts and manipulative powers (of which they both have MANY) to get out of it alive.
My fave parts of the book: LIALIALIA, Venda!!!. KOMIZAR!!!, Aster and Calantha, LIA, MY EMOTIONS, world-building, THE PLOT IS ALWAYS THICKENING aka things can always get worse, finally understanding the real deal with Lia's gift and the magics and whatnot, the delicious foe-yay and ship fuckery, even though i don't really ship the ship(s) like burning but the betrayals galore and hearts getting metaphorically stabbed is always my thing. I'd say my only complaints are how incredibly and rather unrelentingly earnest the prose is, though it's fucking epic and completely gorgeous and so visual.
Sometimes Pearson's descriptions were so good that I marked the page so I could write them down later. Also, the slowness. This is a lush, settle-in-and-buckle-up sort of book, with a serious page count and a heaping of details weighted against a plot that's always moving and danger that is ever-present.
Also, the romance. Yeah, I'm on board. I'm totally rooting for them, and they're cute, but both boys are a liiiiiitle flat for me to truly ship them like BURNING (though we get excellent backstory and some nice development from them both in this one, particularly Kaden). It's also kind of hilarious how the boys in their POV chapters are all "LIA LIA BBY ONE TRUE LOVE PRETTIEST LOVELIEST FIERCEST LIA I WILL SAVE U" and in her chapters Lia is like "literally when can I stab a Vendan fucker and get me out of here". Also bad ass ladies Calantha and Aster, even though Aster is like twelve and adorbs but still LAYDEEZ
Lia, of course, is a boss. A boss. A sassy, whip-smart boss of a princess and I want to be her when I grow up.
|No seriously shut up Tyra|
She refuses to be a pawn in this game of kingdoms, refuses to be a chip in a game played by men and kings, and holy shit, is she something to behold in this. She's in a brutal situation--forced to play a part by the Komizar, a prisoner, and entirely powerless--but the way she manages to spin things to her advantage and wrest power when she has none is glorious. She's sort of like Venda, a country I LOVED getting to know. Venda has terrible soil and no food and shitty windows and is basically hell on earth, but it's people are hardy, and they always make something from nothing. Seeing Lia bond with Venda, despite the Komizar, despite the fact that its the barbarian enemy, is beautiful.
THEN THERE'S THE KOMIZAR. Oh man. i don't want to say much about him, but I fucking loved him. Shades of Darkling, but a little wilder. He wears his ruthlessness for all to see, but there's hope in him. Or is there? I DON'T KNOW YOU'LL HAVE TO READ AND FIND OUT.
I devoured this book. I loved it hardcore. TKoD was a fun read, but THoB is frickin' phenomenal. THE ENDING is INSANE and that last hundred pages are like falling downhill and Bellamy Blake in a hand basket that ending and what and GAH and need the third one. Need it so. Freaking. Desperately. I have theories about things to come, but I truly have no idea how our heroes are going to make it out of this one. BUT I HAVE TO KNOW. BUT JUST. THIS BOOK. I CAN'T. IT ALL. GAH.
Notable quotables (taken from an ARC):
Now I understood why Sven preferred soldiering to love. It was far easier to understand and far less likely to get you killed.
I'd give him his [spoiler], but that didn't mean I couldn't turn some fraction of this moment to my advantage, and fractions of moments after that, until they added up to something whole and fiercesome, because with my last dying breath, I would make him regret the day he ever laid eyes on me.
"Which do you desire more? Me or the fervor of your people? Make your choice now, because I promise you--you can't have both."
"I'm sorry. Truly. But life is hard. Pull your Vendan head out of your ass and get used to it."
There are no rules when it comes to survival, I reminded myself. But I wished there were. The betrayals seemed never to end.
"I don't play games, Kaden. I wage wars. Don't make me wage one on you."
"Though some might seek to make it appear otherwise, I am not a bride to be bartered away to another kingdom, nor a prize of war, nor a mouthpiece for your Komizar. I am not a chip in a card game to be mindlessly tossed into the center of the pot, nor one to be kept in the tight fist of a greedy opponent. I am a player seated at the table alongside everyone else, and from this day forward, I will play my own hand as I see fit."