Book Review: Raven Oak’s Amaskan Blood


A long lost princess turned assassin returns to her kingdom to protect her sister.
The Amaskan Order is an ancient and secretive society of assassins, trained from childhood to serve justice to those who are beyond the law. Master Adelei is the Order’s best assassin, but she is plagued my memories of a stolen childhood and the ghosts of past victims. Then Adelei is given a job that threatens to shake her training and her sanity to the core. She has been tasked to return to her childhood home, to the father that sold her to the Amaskans for a treaty, to protect her soon to be wed twin sister, Princess Margaret Poncett of Alexander. But Adelei’s journey back gives rise to information that threatens to overwhelm her and shake her hard held beliefs to the core. Can she hold it together long enough to uncover the truth behind the rumors about her sister’s intended, Prince Gamun of Shad, that he may be the serial killer and defiler of young girls, known as the Monster?
Master Adelei, a.k.a Princess Illiana Poncett, is portrayed as a 20 year old who has spent her entire life suppressing a part of herself so that she can do her job to the best of her ability. Yet she is conflicted, something Raven Oak draws the reader’s attention to during the very first assassination that we come across in the book. Adelei is assured in the fact that her target is fully deserving of his punishment, yet she questions the method she has been asked to employ, and even her role as executioner, whilst being annoyed with herself of not having delivered the death as slowly as requested. She is constantly battling her natural feelings for her birth father, whilst trying to justify her love for the man who raised her as an assassin, but kept key truths about how she came to live amongst the Amaskans. Then we have Ida Warhammer, think Briana of Tarth from the Game of Thrones, but slightly less manly looking, who currently works for King Leon of Alexander as his spy master but was formerly an Amaskan and had a hand in the Adelei’s kidnapping. Even the King and the antagonist, Prince Gamun have two sides to them, the former slips between being a king and a father, and the latter, being a charming prince and the slimy psychopath. Everyone seems to be struggling to keep in check the various parts of their identity, which comes across as a one of the story’s leading themes.
The story is set in a continent known as the Little Dozen Kingdoms of Boahim, which is policed by the Boahim Senate, an all powerful group of elder politicians that even the Kings of the Little Dozen fear. There is an exquisite map of the the Little Dozen in the book drawn by the author herself to help the reader get to grips with the storied land. Alexander and Shad are two of the larger and most powerful nations in the Dozen, and therefore a peace treaty between the two secured the stability of the Boahim states. The Amaskans are a secret order that live under the protection of the King of Sadai. The Tribor, a death cult of killers act as the rivals of the Amaskans, tarnishing the reputation of the Amaskans and terrorizing the kingdoms. Whilst there is no mention of dragons or other folk, there is a system of magic in Raven Oaks fantasy world, with mystics being able to wield different levels of power and based upon which deity they worship.
The writing is handled well with the dialogue functional and the plot focused, despite the various identity crises, political intrigues and general twists and turns one would expect. At times the prose flows beautifully granting the reader strong images of the world Raven Oak has brought together, whilst keeping me rivetted to the storyline. There is a breadth to the story rarely encountered in books published independently or by a small publisher and will leave you no doubt breathless and wanting more. Raven Oak draws on the power of themes found in fairy tales we’ve all grown up with, and weaves them into a powerful tale full of violence, emotion and anguish, whilst delivering a powerful and well held together story. This is a book I’d happily recommend to my kid sister and to anyone else who’s interested in fresh and powerful storytelling.

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