Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 27, 2014)
"Sixteen-year-old Jared is the newly crowned Prince of All Archenfield, ascending the throne after his older brother's mysterious death. But Jared feels reluctant and unprepared to rule the Princedom and its dangerous and powerful court. Like each Prince of All Archenfield before him, Jared must rely on the Council of Twelve to advise him. But he knows he can just as easily be at their mercy--especially when it appears that one of the Twelve might have orchestrated his brother's untimely death. Propelled by his rage over the loss of his brother and wary of all his advisors, Jared can trust only Asta: a clever, strong-willed girl from the settlements, currently serving as the Physician's apprentice. Asta and Jared take it upon themselves to hunt down his brother's assassin--though the assassin may be hunting them, as well.
Murder, betrayal, and intrigue abound in Justin Somper's thrilling YA series debut. Exploring the political machinations of the medieval-esque court and the lives that hang in the balance, Allies & Assassins is a gripping tale of a teen torn between duty and revenge." -Amazon
Allies and Assassins is a historical fiction piece, that follows soon-to-be prince Jared, who claims the Wynyard throne after his brother's death. In spite of being the Prince's Edling (Second in command), Jared is still inexperienced in the vicious, cut throat nature of Royal politics. His Ascension to power, as well the undoing of his brother serve as a decidedly deficient introduction to the series. Why you ask? Because although Justin Somper worked beautifully with the initial plot he had, it wasn't entirely enough to keep this book alive.
Sure, you could say there moments of intrigue, but when your writing a Suspense-drama without supernatural elements, you generally have to rely on ruthless story lines, and sharp thinking - the first of which wasn't keen enough for a novel of this type. (If its any consolance, ANY other genre would be permitting)
" ‘I’m sorry, Prince Jared,’ Lucas began, his voice unusually husky. He took a breath and resumed more forcefully, ‘Prince Anders is gone.’ He paused, but only for an instant. ‘Your brother was found dead in his bedchamber. It looks like he was assassinated.’"Where Allies and Assassins DID excel is in its writing. To put it plainly, it was detailed and smooth, very much like Vampirates. Every chapter appropriately set the mood for the events within, whilst still retaining the some spontaneity for new occurrences. Like that last chapter at Nova's house for example.
I sincerely hope A&A #2, will improve upon its predecessor. There is plenty of mystery surrounding Archenfield's rulers, that could potentially be fleshed out. As of now, we've only got to know the basics of the 12 (Advisiors to the Prince), and even less about Queen Elin, but I think that may change in a sequel. Maybe even more POV from Axel?
My Rating: 2.9/5