Book DetailsTitle: The Fallen Blade: Act One of the Assassini (The Vampire Assassin Trilogy)
Author: Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Page Count: 432
Publishing Info: Orbit, January 27, 2011
Why I read it: netgalley review copy
The Plot: I'm not quite sure how to describe the plot, it's quite complex, and I don't think I could do it justice, so I will give you the synopsis from the author's website:
The city is at the height of its powers. In theory, Duke Marco commands, but Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. They seem all powerful, yet live in fear of assassins better than their own.
On the night their world changes, Marco's young cousin prays in the family chapel for deliverance from a forced marriage. It is her misfortune to be alone when Mamluk pirates break in to abduct her – an act that will ultimately trigger war.
Elsewhere Atilo, the Duke's chief assassin, cuts a man's throat. Hearing a noise, he turns back to find a boy drinking from the victim's wound. The speed with which the angel-faced boy dodges his dagger and scales a wall stuns Atilo. He knows then he must hunt him. Not to kill him, but because he’s finally found what he thought was impossible – someone fit to be his apprentice.
The Characters: There were a few main characters here, and although I think the book is supposed to be mostly about Tycho (the previously mentioned angel-faced boy), there were a few other characters that took center stage as well. And I didn't really love any of them. Don't get me wrong, the characters are all interesting, but I feel like they kind of took a backseat role to the setting.
The Setting: If the characters didn't feel completely fleshed out, it's because the author spent his time fleshing out the setting instead. In every chapter, it seems there are detailed descriptions of Venice--the smells, the sights, the sounds, the history. The main character in the story really is the setting.
Who Should Read This? Fans of gritty, darker fantasy. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, or those who like lighthearted fantasy.
Final Thoughts: The Fallen Blade started out with a bang, and I was really excited about reading it. But somewhere in the middle I felt like it faltered a bit, to the point where I wasn't even sure what the story was supposed to be about. But then it seemed to pick up at the end in a huge battle scene. All in all I really liked this one, and will definitely continue on with the series, but feel like it had more potential than what is seen in the book.
Cover Thoughts: The cover is very well designed, from the picture to the font used for the title and author, and I think goes well with the feel of the story.