Assassin’s Gambit by Amy Raby


assassins-gambitGenre: Fantasy, Romance, Adult Fiction

Pages: 400

Published April 2nd 2012 by Signet

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Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.

As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.

Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good.


Several times I found myself rolling my eyes during this book and nearly DNF it yet one thing stopped me. I kept placing fantasy before romance when in reality it is a romance which happens to have fantasy elements.

I had hopes for an interesting read which would encompass my favorites when it comes to fantasy novels: Political intrigue, espionage, and strong female leads. Add in a plot that involves all of this and an assassin, what more could I possibly want?

A plot that follows through in delivering

That would be what.

Vitala was born a half breed of Riorcan and Kjallan lines and in her village dark hair is frowned on as it isn’t Riorcan in appearance, it is their enemies the Kjallan. So, in sparing her a life of difficulties she was sold to an organization, the Obsidian Circle, which happens to be a spy/assassin organization. She was then groomed from a young age to be just that, an assassin.

Not by chance as she grows does she master the game of Caturanga – which sounds like a combination of Battleship and Chess.

Which brings us to Emperor Lucien, who has inherited a few generations of bad decisions. He is a young emperor who some years ago lost his leg during a battle as well as his brother.

When Lucien invites the reigning champion of Cautranga he wasn’t expecting Vitala, this was her chance, the opening she had been waiting for to assassinate the Emperor, to send the empire in utter dissaray. Except she failed not once or twice, repeatedly. The excuses and instant connection to her assigned target was sickening and unbelievable for someone who was trained from a tender age to kill and do her job.

The possibility of causing an upset in the empire would have proved more interesting than keeping the present Emperor alive, even when a usurper takes the throne it is almost like it is a background story, because it focuses primarily on the relationship between Vitala and Lucien, which at best is mildly interesting. The romance turns to love far too quickly for my liking, considering she admits to having him in her sights and he simply has a mild dislike for her which fades rather quickly, considering.

Overall, it was unimpressive, unbelievable. Why? It was mostly because of the characters, the world itself was set up to do wonders. The divide in the empire, the upset between the ‘races’ if you will, which makes at least that part of the book somewhat believable, but it isn’t enough to salvage it. The characters break the book instead of making it.

If I were to rate this on a Fantasy level it would be a 1 – on a romance level, it’s a 2. Because even though there is romance… it’s not a well-crafted one. Far too many inconsistencies – an assassin who is a crying mess in nearly every chapter. Nope. Nope.


Do you have a favorite political fantasy? Share below.


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