Review copy provided by our mutual agent. Also we’re friends.
Every system, every society, every government, has its drawbacks. People differ on what those are and how to address them–in the real world. In too much fantasy, this disagreement gets flattened out into pure antagonism: this is the obvious problem, and if you’re not at least sort of aligned with me on the solution, you are The Baddie.
The Perfect Assassin doesn’t do that. Even in a system that features, well, secret assassins. And I enjoy that a lot.
Amastan is an historian by day, assassin by night. He and the others of his age group have been training for years, learning the rules that keep them in check as well as the skills that will be the difference between life and death for them and others. But someone else isn’t following those rules. Amastan and his friends discover not only a corpse, but one whose jaani (spirit, more or less, sort of) has not been properly laid to rest. This unexpected danger spurs him to find out more about the people around him, and about the past he is supposed to be studying.
Amastan is a beautifully cautious protagonist. He thinks things through, he tries his best–and he still gets himself into heaps of trouble. You will never have the “UGH THINK THINGS THROUGH” problem here, because ‘Stan does think things through–and the results are beautifully, humanly messy anyway. I was nearly late for a lunch meeting when I picked up this book, and it remained fun, exciting, and especially compelling throughout–for me, substantially because its protagonist is so well-drawn. Definitely recommended.