The Assassin’s Curse is a pirate fantasy adventure YA novel set in about a girl pirate who escaped an arrange marriage but end up being hunted by an assassins until he inexplicably cursed to protect her or he suffer. The book consists of the struggle of Ananna (I actually have a guy friend named Anand who had his birthday while I’m reading this.. lmao) who valued her freedom and refused to bow down to everyone and basically she does what she does the best – pirate and Naji, a scarred assassin who somehow inextricably had to protect his mark because of the curse he had for years that one day someone would save his life and he would be bound to his saviour.
You know the main attraction of the book was the cover. Its Khat (which means lines in arabic…. or what we usually call it here… there’s a lot of names for it) or what you call, style of Islamic Calligraphy. So pretty right? My house have khats for surahs (why is often why called Islamic instead of Arabic) and sometimes I see someone carve khats on wood to make decorations at the side of the street near my university apartment. There’s a lot of style of using arabic words for khats like jawi (which I can read) and chinese arabic calligraphy (yes, there’s muslims in china too) but all involve the usage of elegant strokes which are readable at least to anyone who know basic alif ba ta alphabets.
…This thing is probably older than me…
If you’re wondering, khat is a type of calligraphy while jawi and other arabic words usage are technically fonts. I can write in arab and jawi but I can’t do Khat. I do write in cursive but I fail at artistic font, I lack patience for it, so how do you expect me to do calligraphy. By the way, the book cover is just calligraphy. Take it as contemporary calligraphy since the borders doesn’t really say anything besides decorative filigrees. So don’t worry about it.
And the other things was the setting of the book. The author tried to come up with a setting that suit desert life, clued from the cover probably Arabian deserts but the content of the book is much more Pirates of the Caribbean than Frank Herbert’s Dune. While reading Ananna’s dialogues, I thought that she sounded more like Southern girl more than Keira Knightly’s Elizabeth Swan. So if you want a pure arabian landscape fantasy like thousand nights, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to recommend Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon which I will be reading in other time. The book is an adventure novel so it might have help if the final book will show maps and navigation since a part of the novel is about Ananna learning how to navigate in high seas and practice navigational math. I actually did those math in school like calculating knots according to time zones and the direction from A to B using knots so somehow the book reminded me of high school.
Ananna is the type of character that I always like. She’s a pirate. She can fight with swords and knives. She’s naturally suspicious to everyone. She’s courageous, she’s sneaky, she doesn’t sit and wiggle her feet for things to fall on her lap and wait for everyone to protect her like most YA characters do these days. She’s cautious and rebellious. Honestly, she’s really a joy to read. Naji on the other hand is like Squall Leonhart and Cloud Strife who think too much and overcomplicated and kept fringing around the truth and really is fragile. He’s the cool characters with layers of flaws and the likes. He’s fun to read but everything about him screams angst.
Since the book is quite short and is made into a serial, I can’t really comment about the development of the storyline except that the book is easy to read and very fast paced that I was constantly aware on my progression while reading and wished I have more pages to read. I would have rated it high since I was all stars while reading this book but 18 chapters is not enough! Since the book is quite moderately descriptive, it does ate out some of the pages which you can barely had enough conflict in the book so it was more of a first chapter of an adventure than a normal lengthy YA books. There weren’t much about the society in the book except for several minor characters that was very intriguing and memorable but the introductory nature of the book somehow weakens the storytelling. But a continuation was expected so I don’t dwell much on it. The book were detailed with action and world-building mysticism that was very intriguing. Magic in the desert society was multi-layered with prejudices and plain menace. The character inner conflict was remarkable, Ananna was alone in the world, her companion was an assassin sent to kill her which made the entirety of the story is plain fascinating.
I love assassins storylines. Usually I watch anime that revolved around assassins and movies about spies, so having a mash of pirate, arabian and assassins storyline is very entertaining. I definitely recommending it if you like short reads about fantasy and magic because the book is definitely one of the kind. As for demography, I think it would appeal to either gender or any ages since it wasn’t a violent book but more to action adventure. There’s also slight steampunk influence in this book so I am actually looking forward for the next book should the author decides to elaborate more on the mechanicals.
The book will be published on 2nd October 2012, review copy by Angry Robot aka Strange Chemistry from NetGalley. Be sure to pre-order this book since its really is a good debut novel with awesome cover no less!