I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 7th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.
Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.
Trust me, no one is more surprised than I, but I actually really liked The Heart of Betrayal. After reading the first book in the series, The Kiss of Deception, I was dreading even reading this at all despite having a review copy. But wow. Now this is a series I can get behind.
My primary complaint about The Kiss of Deception was that there was hardly a plot and way too heavy a focus on the love triangle which I found insufferable. The Heart of Betrayal shuts down both of those complaints. The cliffhanger at the end of The Kiss of Deception indicated that exciting things were about to happen – and it delivers on that promise. From the very start, The Heart of Betrayal kicks off a plot of intrigue, scheming, and political manipulation – more what I expected from the series as a whole. Lia has been kidnapped by the kingdom of Venda and is held prisoner by the Komizar, while Rafe followed her in, pretending to be a messenger for the prince of Dalbreck. The two plot to escape together while playing the political games long enough to stay alive in this country of “barbarians”. This plot was so much more interesting than the first book – and I read hundreds of pages in single sittings. One might call it an addictive read.
The world building, including the prophecies, Lia’s gift, and the strenuous relationships between the three kingdoms are infinitely more fleshed out – which I’d also found sorely lacking in the first book. Now I actually felt more engrossed in this setting, and I really appreciated the complexity and realistic feel it all created. Not all my questions are answered, but they’re being worked on – and I’ve really found myself sucked into the series now. The ending here is killer. So intense and action-packed – I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, and now can’t wait for the trilogy’s conclusion.
A lot of my sudden burst of love for this series though has to be attributed to Lia. I didn’t really like her or dislike her in the first book, but in The Heart of Betrayal she gets sassy, snarky, and really holds her own. She’s done being manipulated by people, and she’s starting to analyze the world around her herself so that she can determine what’s right. She breaks through prejudices and stereotypes, and she’s no longer the naive girl just wanting to be loved. When she sees injustice happen, she fights for the humanity of all people – regardless of where they were born. She’s the kind of noble heroine you can really get behind – she’s not a super strong fighter, but she knows how to play the political game and will do what it takes to win.
I walked up to Griz and poked him in the chest. “Let me make this perfectly clear to you. Though some might seek to make it appear otherwise, I am not a bride to be bartered away to another kingdom, not a prize of war, not a mouthpiece for your Komizar. I am not a chip in a card game to be mindlessly tossed into the center of the pot, nor one to be kept in the tight fist of a greedy opponent. I am a player seated at the table alongside everyone else, and from this day forward, I will play my own hand as I see fit. Do you understand me? Because the consequences could be ugly if someone thought otherwise.” ARC of The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Now you may wonder how my feelings on the romance have developed and it’s kind of complicated. There is for sure less time spent on the romance, especially in Lia’s point of view, because she has bigger things to worry about. She’s no longer thinking about either love interest every other page. But. This book carries on the trend of multiple points of view, and we see Kaden and Rafe’s thoughts as well. Weirdly, they seem to be more obsessive about the romance than she is. Particularly Kaden is a creepy creep and he needs to stahp. In that sense, I guess I have more respect for Rafe, and particularly at the end of the book I saw the potential for me boarding a ship. But above all I just wish Lia would dump both their asses and rule as queen of the universe. *cough* And I really wish Rafe and Kaden’s points of view were not a thing. This book could have gotten five stars without them – probably.
In my eyes the closest readalike to this series would still be the Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson. There’s a heavy focus on the political dealings within a high fantasy world, and the main character, while first being young and naive, grows into someone who naturally gains followers and respect. There’s a kind of religious aspect in the gift that Lia has, and this is tied to a prophecy that makes people regard her as a blessed one who can save humanity – though possibly at great personal cost. In my case, the romance is a bit much, but it also feels similar. So if you are a fan of Fire and Thorns, I highly recommend you get in on this series ASAP. With my preference for Lia over Elissa, I can definitively say I like this series even better.