Read Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby Online


Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.As the rulVitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good....

Title : Assassin's Gambit
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 18176507
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Assassin's Gambit Reviews

  • Khanh (the meanie)
    2019-03-07 09:12

    Soon, the moment would come, the moment she’d spent eleven years preparing for. Could she seduce and kill Emperor Lucien?The answer is a resounding NO.I DNFed this book at 25% because, really, there is no fucking point. She wasn't going to kill the motherfucker anyway. It's not only terrible, it belittles the act of rape.He thrust into her, occasionally fondling her breasts or kissing her. She tried to ignore it. Mild discomfort, she told herself. It’s mild discomfort, nothing more.Because if you just pretend that it's nothing, rape isn't a big deal, right?! Fuck that shit. Seriously, fuck that shit.This is the story of the worst fucking assassin in the world. She makes Celaena Sardothien of Throne of Glass infamy look...competent in comparison. Celaena may like clothes more than she likes killing, but at least she didn't repeatedly and completely fuck up an assassination attempt. Every other page, I was shrieking at her "WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! KILL HIM!!!111!!!1"I could feel my blood pressure skyrocketing. Trying to finish this book might have given me an aneurysm.First off, that cover is a total ripoff of Angelina Jolie's 2012 Oscar dress.But that aside, the main character had so many fucking chances to kill the Emperor. She never takes them. And the emperor is a fucking "cripple." (The book's words, not mine). The Emperor is an amputee! He's a mage, he's got magic, but still, AN ASSASSIN CAN GET THE FUCKING JOB DONE IN A SECOND. WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITING TO SEDUCE HIM?! The reason given for the hesitation simply doesn't work for me.The Premise:"He’s crippled and alone," Bayard had said. "Kill him, and you will spark a succession battle that will tear the empire apart."The female assassin Vitala had one fucking job: Kill Lucien, the Emperor of Kjallan. His father was a despot, currently the kingdom of Kjallan is killing her people, torturing them, enslaving them. Vitala has been trained to be an assassin since she was a child. Eleven years, she has trained for this mission. She has been trained in killing, in court etiquette, in the many ways to seduce a man (hint: aim for the penis). Lucien is particularly interested in the game of Caturanga. Caturanga is a strategy game, much like chess. Every year, a championship tournament is held in the city of Beryl, and the champion gets to meet and play with Lucien.Vitala won the championship, and gets to meet Lucien. Her mission: seduce him, kill him. His death will create a chaos within the Kjallan kingdom that will free her people, the Riorcans. It doesn't matter if Lucien is guilty of the deaths or not. He must die for her people's plan to succeed.It didn’t matter whether she wanted to kill Lucien or not. Even if Lucien were innocent of all crimes—and he wasn’t—he had to die, for the simple reason that he stood in the way of Riorcan freedom. Lucien was a strategic sacrifice.AND SHE DOESN'T FUCKING DO IT. Years and years of planning, out the fucking window because she is a motherfucking moron of the highest order. She couldn't kill a fucking spider that falls on her in the shower. Vitala is a fucking failure.The Fail!!!!!: She fails repeatedly, but here are some of the examples within the 25% of the books I read.#1: She gets to be alone with Lucien. She thinks he's cute. They're still alone. He doesn't look like a killer, but hey, who cares, right? They're alone. They sit down. Alone. They play a long ass game of Caturanga. Alone. She gets absorbed in the game. They're still alone. There are no magical wards on his body or in the room. They're still alone. There are no bodyguards around. They're still alone. She wins the game. They're still alone.She’d gotten so caught up in the game that she’d forgotten all about seduction.OH, SO NOT ONLY DID SHE FAIL TO EVEN TRY TO KILL HIM, SHE FORGOT ABOUT SEDUCING HIM. Nice.#2: She gets to play with him again! Alone. He's pretty cute! They're still alone. Oh, they're talking about politics now. Cute. They're still alone. She WINS AGAIN! They're still alone. And, shit.Three gods, she was supposed to be seducing him, and once again she was getting too drawn into the Caturanga.FAIL FAIL FAIL. OH! OH! He's walking her to the door. They're SO CLOSE. This might be it, right?!At the door, she turned and performed her farewell curtsy.No.#3: She's ALONE WITH HIM IN A CARRIAGE! Oh my god, now's the time to seduce him. Get close to him. KILL HIM. They're alone!!! They're making out, they're getting turned on...and...A spike of heat and pleasure stabbed through her and settled in her groin, where it slowly spread. Pox, pox, pox. She’d let herself get attracted to her target. This was not good.WHAT THE FUCK?!#4: They're alone! What a fucking surprise! He's about to seduce her. THEY'RE ALONE.She giggled, feeling like she’d had too much to drink. Some distant part of her marveled at her absurd behavior. He had stumbled, but she was the one who was off balance. What was it about this man that her body responded to with such enthusiasm?He’s a tyrant. You hate him.Her body wasn’t listening.OH MY GOD ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!#5: THEY'RE FUCKING! Clearly, they're alone. His inhibitions are gone! They're fucking! They're skin to skin. Face to face. Vagina to dick! Is she going to kill him?!“Shh.” He worked her with hands and tongue, stroking and tasting. She writhed, utterly out of control, half-terrified at what was happening to her, half-consumed with yearning. She wanted him to stop. She wanted more.NO! FUCK!#6: HE'S ABOUT TO GET KILLED BY SOMEONE ELSE. Well, awesome. Other people are going to do the job for her. All she has to do is sit back and enjoy and take credit for the work. Except that's just not enough for our awesomely intelligent Vitala. She somehow gets the fucking harebrained idea that it's better to save him.She’d never relished the thought of killing Lucien, and maybe now she didn’t have to. She could do more for her people by saving his life.Awesome! Throw away decades of planning by her country's spy agency. Good fucking job, stupid bitch.WHY DOESN'T SHE KILL HIM: Supposedly Lucien is a mage who has the power of precognition, which is why she has to seduce him.Along with the most dangerous ability of all, the gift of anticipation. A war mage could sense any attack before it came. To get past a war mage’s defenses, one had to distract him to the point that he was oblivious to the outside world.It doesn't fucking work. A competent assassin should be able to do the fucking job within seconds. Furthermore, she actually fucked him. She actually seduced him, and she didn't do it! She just enjoyed her fucking orgasm and forgot all about the fucking mission. And Vitala isn't exactly helpless. She has magical Shards. Shards which she can (and has) used to kill a man in a single moment.Vitala drove the Shard into the soft flesh of his hip and released the death spell.Pretty fucking neat magical tool. Kill a man in seconds. SO WHY DOESN'T SHE FUCKING DO IT?! Precognition or not, it only takes a fucking instant when she is RIGHT NEXT TO HIM. Which she is, repeatedly!Fail assassin. Stupid, stupid idiot.I haven't finished the book, but I predict that this is what's going to happen. Lucien and Vitala is going to fall in love. Instead of killing him, she's going to protect him. She's going to join some kind of alliance to overthrow the evil people of his kingdom and discover that Lucien, instead of being an evil despot, is a kind-hearted king. A benevolent soul. They're going to fall in love. Vitala is going to protest halfheartedly that she can't fall in love because she's an assassin. But they're going to keep fucking and she's going to fall in love with him anyway.Maybe someone who's read this can tell me I'm wrong, but I don't have high hopes.

  • Mandi Schreiner
    2019-03-12 09:24

    This book caught my eye because I love an assassin heroine. A couple of my favorites being Gin from Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series and Shadow Kin by MJ Scott. The description of the heroine in the blurb sounds pretty awesome:Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.Except she isn’t awesome. She is half Riorca, half Kjallan, two lands that are fierce enemies. She considers Riorca her home, having spent a brief amount of time there as child, yet she looks Kjallan, which is why she was taken at a young age by the assassin group, The Obsidian Circle, to be trained to become a deadly assassin. Her mission since she was a young girl was to be trained to kill the Kjallan emperor, Lucien, to then set in motion chaos, hoping to free her Ricora people that are enslaved. Her training is two parts – first Lucien is a war mage which means he can anticipate when something bad is going to happen. To be able to stick a death shard in him, she gets trained to stick it in when the man is climaxing on top of her. Apparently in the throes of an orgasm, he doesn’t pay attention to the incoming warning danger. Her second task is to learn the game Caturanga (like chess) which is Lucien’s favorite. He always invites the annual Caturanga champion to play him at his palace.So Vitala completes her training, (where she practice kills soldiers) wins the Caturanga championship, and finds herself in front of Lucien ready to play her roll. But here is where the story completely falls apart for me.While Vitala has to seduce Lucien into bed (so they can have sex and she can stick the death shard into him) she gets seduced herself. She becomes attracted to him about five minutes after she meets him. Huh? She has been trained almost her entire life to kill this man and she gets all goo-goo eyed over him already?Then before she can get him into bed, Lucien’s second in command stages a rebellion, and tries to kill Lucien. Now before Vitala really knows what is going on, she has a chance to kill Lucien. But she doesn’t take it (I weep). Later she realizes Lucien might be better use to her Riocra people if he is alive. But let me make this point – I never see her act like an assassin. She never comes across as someone who has had a vicious assassin training (yet we are told she has). She falls for Lucien right at the beginning? Where is the intrigue? The suspense? And almost as worse as this, Lucien trusts Vitala pretty much from the beginning. These events would have made more sense if one: Vitalia and Lucien had each hated the other, or tried to kill the other. At least once! And two: Had these events slowed down. The rebellion, the raid, Lucien switching sides all takes place at the beginning of the book. Slow down and let us get to know each player before switching it all up on us.As the book goes on it continues to go downhill. Vitala is determined to keep it a secret that she works for the Obsidian Circle but slight pressure from Lucien and she folds. Again, not kick ass assassin behavior. The rest of the book flounders. Letting enemies go when they should have killed them, Lucien not really acting like the strong emperor he says he is and most disappointing, Vitala never coming across as a true assassin.Rating: D

  • Minni Mouse
    2019-03-15 03:25

    DNF at 20% because oh, nooo you don't, you thinly-veiled piece of shallow mediocrity.

  • Nemo (The Moonlight Library)
    2019-02-22 02:11

    This review was originally posted on The Moonlight LibraryThis isn't my usual YA, but I did enter Goodreads First Reads competition to win it, and I did really want to read it. Oh my god, I took FOREVER to read this book but I swear it's not a reflection on the book's quality, believe me! I had a really good time when I was reading this book, I've just had THE WORST YEAR for reading. I started reading this is August 2016 after winning it on Goodreads in 2014 (BAD NEMO) and my other review books kept getting in the way, then this year happened and my life went to hell in a hand basket, but when I did have the energy to read this book I adored the chemistry between the PTSD-suffering sex assassin and the sexy, sensitive disabled ruler she's sent to murder. So let me tell you a bit about it.Vitala is half Kjallan and half Riorcan, and her loyalties lie with Riorca, a country under the oppressive rule of the Kjallan emperor. Using her looks and skills at a chess-like game called Cataranga, Vitala infiltrates the emperor's inner circle and is about to use the only magic that can kill the magically-protected emperor when he is betrayed by an underling. Now Lucien is at her mercy, Vitala realises that it's in Riorca's best interest to get Lucien back on the throne, and through trials, politics, and acts of war with a sprinkling of romance, the two attempt to do just that.Vitala was an interesting heroine. A lot of people complain about how she didn't kill her mark, but she was smart enough to questions her orders and not follow them blindly, finding another way to attempt peace and freedom for her people. Also, where is the conflict if you write "After years of training, she killed her target, and she was OK with that, the end"? She suffers from PTSD due to her training and starts the novel off thinking sex is just a tool to help her kill her marks. With Lucien's help, she comes to realise sex is so much more.Lucien is a disabled man in an alpha male's role, and learning to come to terms with his  leadership in a society that celebrates physical prowess over intelligence, skill and cunning. Lucien is far more sensitive and gentle than the emperor whose throne he inherited, but still carries his authority, and as Vitala discovers this, she figures out he's not the tyrant she's been led to believe he is. Lucien has his own troubles to deal with and doesn't always treat Vitala with the patience and respect she deserves, but they tackle their conflicts in the best way they're equipped to.I liked the writing. I didn't find it too flowery or sparse. I did have problems remembering all of the world building but I read this over the course of more than a year (which was entirely my own fault) and I think if someone read it faster they could probably do a better job of remembering ranks and countries and all that stuff. I found Vitala's PTSD very believable, and I know firsthand what PTSD is like. I also found Lucien's attitudes refreshing.I don't know if the pacing was my problem because once I was reading it I didn't want to put it down, but equally I had little initiative to pick it back up again. I think since I knew it was always going to be there waiting for me and like most assassin romances the plot was pretty predictable, but I really did enjoy it while I was reading. Vitala and Lucien's chemistry was off the charts and I very nearly dog-eared some pages to re-read at some point (WHO DOG-EARS THEIR PAGES YOU MONSTER?).Overall I think if you're open minded, give the book time to show you that Vitala has PTSD rather than losing patience with her struggle and coping mechanisms (I will mention that she is raped and she tries to dismiss it as a minor discomfort, this is so she can deal with the assault and concentrate on murdering her attacker, not to say that rape is actually a minor discomfort), and realise that it's an assassin romance and the romance is written right there in the blurb, you'll probably enjoy the book as much as I did.

  • paperysoul
    2019-03-24 09:28

    4 starsMy first by Amy Raby and I liked it. The book has a thrilling story which I anticipated. The mystery, suspense and action in this book is really good for adrenaline junkie like me.A lot things happened in Assassin's Gambit and each of the chapters equipped with new surprises, new adventures. And they got me excited at point that I couldn't put this book down because I wanted to know what's next.I enjoyed reading the main characters. Even though I didn't fully connected to both of them, at least I felt the connection built between Lucien and Vitala. They are amazing and a great couple. Both are dangerous and deadly too. Lucien is a very good strategist. His mind works wondrous regardless of his physical deficiency. Whilst Vitala, she's lethal because she has a plenty of skills and she kills. She's the assassin after all. Both are tortured souls. Lucien doesn't do brooding but instead, he charms people and laughs quite a lot. He loves socializing, I think. Very fond with challenges. Hence, the Caturanga (game of chess or battleship, I imagined) and Vitala who is really hard to crack. Then, their romance was sizzling. Lucien is so smitten with Vitala and he loves her greatly. For that, I felt happy for Vitala being she didn't feel loved before.Anyway, I guarantee if you decided to pick and read this book, you won't be disappointed. Next in the series will be about Rhianne and her husband's story. They made an appearance this book but in the next book, it seems like the story will start from the beginning for them. And I cannot wait! Please Ms. Raby, do write faster!Read on your own peril.UPDATEDIf Lucien is 22 years old and Vitala is two years old (I think, I forgot) younger than Lucien, does it mean this book is New Adult? The thing is the way all characters think and act in the book is so matured. Like they age more than 25 years old or older than that. Where should I shelve this book? Adult? New Adult? But can I put it in Adult because it felt like one?Sorry for the ramblings. Going to love this series! Keeping tabs on you Ms. Raby!

  • Amanda
    2019-03-01 10:31

    I can't believe that this is Amy Raby's debut. Although some reviewer said this book don't really fit into the romance genre because majority of the the plot was about politics and war, I'm very invested in Vitala and Lucien's relationship and hope they get their well deserve HEA. For those who wanted to know how much romance is in this book, I will said that both Vitala and Lucien are practically together since the beginning until the end. They seldom separated from each other. In the beginning they are wary about each other identity, but when the truth is out, they embrace it and work together to accomplish a similar goal. Romance author usually use thick sexual tension, unrequited love, big misunderstanding, big revelation that turn a jerk hero into someone you swoon after or lust turn into love to make the story works. But Amy Raby uses non of those. What makes me finish reading the book in one day is the non stop action plot. You just can't wait to see what will happen next to Vitala or Lucien.Vitala is a Riorcan, but looks like a Kjall because she is a half breed. She was trained as an assassin by the Obsidian Circle to overthrow Emperor Lucien in order to free Riorcan from Kjall ruling since she was eight. I like the fact that although she was trained since young, she know her mission is to free Riorcan and she didn't got brainwash to kill mercilessly or follow any orders blindly. Most of the time she make her own judgement for the goods of the Riorcan people. Lucien, the Emperor of Kjall is a handicap, who lost his left leg in a battle. Both his elder brother are dead and he only left with a 13 years old sister, Celeste. Although he is handicap, he doesn't appear brooding, but rather friendly and charming at first glance. During the first half, he seems like beta hero, who needs his ass save by the heroin, basically got drag across the country and totally under her mercy. However, as usual beta heroes have genius mind and so do Lucien. At the second half, we can see he is a great strategist and a great leader. He can raise an army for a war. Although there is a mentioned that he is only 22 years old, but honestly, his action is so mature for his age that I thought he can easily be a decade or two older. I like the fact that he is willing to put any pride aside to ally with his enemies. The story begins with Vitala being summoned to the palace after winning the annual Caturanga game (I just imagine is chess). Emperor Lucien loves the game and every year he will invite the winner to play with him. This is the first time a female won and she even beat him. All she need to do is the get Lucien in bed and kill him while he is distracted. This is because Lucien is a warmage that can anticipate an attack before it happen. However, before Vitala manage to make her move on Lucien, both of them got entangle in a coup to overthrown the Emperor lead by the Kjall's traitor. Rather than watch Lucien got kidnap or killed, Vitala decide to save him instead. She make him promise that if she help him to get his throne back, he will free Riorcan. While Lucien is recovering from his injuries in Tasox, they met two midwives and a dog name, Flavia. Vitala then lead Lucien towards the Riorcan's land and at this moment Lucien had finally guess that she is from the Obsidian Circle. Anyway, he had no other choices than to follow her and hope to gain ally with the Circle. Things doesn't turn out as what Vitala had anticipated, instead of the Circle working together with Lucien, they held him prisoner. She had no choice but to break him out. I love the following quote from Vitala about Lucien."She loved that about Lucien, that he accepted new situations instantly and did not ask idiot questions like 'What's going on?' or 'What are you doing here?'"Many times we see hero and heroin really asked those idiot questions that make me roll my eyes. How true is that. Whenever Vitala appeared to save Lucien, he just grab his crutch and ran with her.At the second half of the story, Vitala had left the Circle, while she is at lost of where she belongs, Lucien met up with his While Eagle battalion and tried to raise an army of rebel. Vitala was trained to assassinate, and now she is feeling restless with all the inaction because she doesn't know how to help Lucien with his plotting. When Lucien order to have her evacuated away from danger, she takes matter in her own hand.Of course, in the midst of all the political agenda between Kjall and Riorcan, the relationship between Vitala and Lucien got closer. He even proposed to her with a Caturanga's piece. They are both flawed characters with a haunted past. Lucien had a phobia towards anything lemon because it reminds him of the day when he lost his leg, while Vitala practically had nightmare about one of her earlier kill whenever she engage in sex act. Lucien patience towards her is quite unbelievable, maybe the fact that she saved his life count towards it. But anyhow, the brilliant guy can solve any problems that come in his way. Initially I'm worried about a possible cliffhanger since this is book 1, but fear not. This is practically a standalone with a HEA. The next book is about Rhianne, Lucien's cousin, who already married with her husband in Assassin's Gambit. It seems like the author is going backwards and talk about how she met her husband.

  • Sandy Williams
    2019-03-11 06:31

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I came across an interview with the author on the Qwillery review site. Amy Raby talked about the research she did for this book, reading the Art of War and speeches given by real world leaders so she could get Lucien's speeches right. I have to say, that completely paid off. The war strategizing came off as authentic and plausible, and Lucien was great at motivating his troops. (I have to admit here, that I'm jealous. I wish I'd done this type of research for my Shadow Reader novels. I'd love to have more war strategizing in them. Of course, there's not really space for that in my books.)I enjoyed the worldbuilding in this novel. Not everyone is magical. People have mage stones that sort give or store their abilities. If you take the stone away, they lose their magics. I thought that was neat. I also enjoyed the different types of magic. Wardbreaking turned out to be pretty cool, and war mage magic sounds awesome as well.In the Qwillery interview, the author said this book was a 50/50 romance and fantasy split. I'd say it's about 70% fantasy and 30% romance. This would have been a darn good book without the romance, but with it, it was even better. Lucien was my favorite character. He was smart, but he was such a guy, too. His little sexual comments made me role my eyes (I think in a good way, lol). I enjoyed Vitala's character as well. My only complaint about her is that she didn't feel very asassin-y to me. Not that she didn't have the skills and desire. I guess she just seemed a little soft? Not ruthless enough? Something like that.I'd love to read more books by this author, so I'm happy to hear we'll be getting Rhianne's story. I'm sure we'll eventually get a Celeste story as well. Sounds great to me. SIDENOTE: I like this blend of fantasy and romance. It reminds me of a fantasy romance I started writing well over a decade ago. At the time, I didn't realize I was writing a romance. The story never really want anywhere - I was distracted by other New! Shiny! ideas - but now that I think about that book, I might be able to do something with it. Gah! So many ideas, so little time! I need to write faster!

  • Lexie
    2019-02-25 10:29

    Dear Khanh,I regret doubting your opinion on this book. You were so utterly right.Love,MeDNF'ed at like 110pgs...look. I'm not saying an assassin has to kill folk to prove themselves...except if you have ONE OFFICIAL TARGET in your career and instead of killing him you actively aid him in escaping the villainous murderous traitors, assist him in regaining his throne and then MARRY HIM while convincing all your rebel friends it's the RIGHT THING to do...maybe don't call yourself an assassin.

  • Diana
    2019-03-25 06:23

    I'm a sucker for novels with female assassin's as the protagonist. Thus, I was drawn to reading this book. Sadly, the book is very underwhelming. Character's are thrown into the foray of the action & plot of the novel with little-to-no background & with triviality. They disappear as fast as they were introduced. This book is first & foremost a love story. Honestly, it's not even a very interesting one. It's very shallow & I felt no loyalty to either the female heroine or the male hero. If you're looking for a kick-ass assassin, action & an interesting story, this is not the book to read.

  • Kara-karina
    2019-03-14 04:14

    I can only say that I've been very lucky with my fantasy books lately. Not only Assassin's Gambit is exceptionally well written, it's unapologetic about the matters of sex, emotional trauma, and has one of the best no-nonsense, sensible approaches to relationships I've seen in a long time. Also, of course it helps that Vitala totally kicks ass! Read it, and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

  • Eleanor With Cats
    2019-03-12 07:10

    Awesome! In her goodreads biography, Raby lists her Bujold and Hambly among her influences, and I am happy to say she definitely lives up to their legacy. First off, I have no idea why this book was marketed as a fantasy/romance, because it is very different from a traditional romance, including elements of political intrigue, PTSD, battle tactics, and regular fantasy/adventure. I'm not sure whether people expecting a romance will like it or not. Although if it brings in more readers, hey, can't be bad, right?Vitala is shown to have agency in one way from the very beginning of the book. The prologue opens with her having sex with a willing male whose name she can't remember, in order to practice assassination techniques while he is focused and distracted. Then she stabs him and tell him if it had been a real assassination, he'd be dead. Vitala, whose name means life, is very very capable physically. She's a brilliant caturanga player (caturanga occupies the social position of chess in the Kjallan-Riorcan world) and ends up killing a good many people over the course of the novel while also rescuing several characters. Although her romantic partner Lucien is stronger than her due to his magic as a warmage, they are presented as equals in physical and strategic prowess, and they have a wonderful cameraderie - this is the only romance I've ever read where the hero goes to cheer up the downhearted heroine, does it by making lewd jokes, and gets punched in the nose, after which they both laugh. In a number of ways Assassin's Gambit is about Vitala's path to nonphysical agency - choosing her own loyalties, choosing her family, choosing a lover, and graduating from a political pawn who is in some ways very very constrained to the empress of two or more realms. Jan-Torres' speech to Vitala about becoming an officer after working only in the midst of physical action on the front relates to this.In the world of this book, humans can train to become mages and tie their power to stone pendants of various kinds, which must be near them for them to access the source of their magic. There are some interesting consequences to this. First, magic becomes something associated with the upper classes, as only they have the money to see their children trained. (Presumably this is going to be a conservative force in the political structure.) Second, although magical Healing is mostly available only to the upper classes, Warders can make wards against disease and childbirth on anyone who pays them, and most people take advantage. Raby seems to be trying to make a world where there is less stigma on sexually active women. There is still some stigma though, which several characters try to take advantage of to work against Vitala.Thirdly, the existence of warmages ties into a number of features of the plot. A warmage, as long as his (or possibly her? - while women can be assassins and spies and co-rulers, they do not seem to be warriors) stone pendant is within range, gains not only boosts in strength and speed but also a psychic warning of impending attack. Since the conquered Riorcans are trying to kill their Kjallan rulers to destabilize the empire and try to win their freedom, the Obsidian Circle (the Riorcan underground) is faced with having to deal with well-equipped and trained warmages while having only what resources they can hide and smuggle. The two methods people have come up with for killing warmages are simultaneous three-way attacks on a single warmage and taking advantage of utter distraction, preferably one arranged by the assassin - in this case, orgasm. One of the Obsidian Circle enclaves trains groups of three men as assassins for the first method, while Vitala was picked as a child for the second method and has been trained to seduce her target, then call her weapons to her and pick him off at the moment of climax. One result of this is that some parts of this book are a bit more graphic than some fantasy novels are. But another result of this - in combination with the existence of antifertility wards and more socio-romantic freedom for women - seems to be increased frank communication with regard to consent. Although Vitala and her love interest, the new emperor Lucien, are both hiding psychological scars and issues from each other, and Vitala is somewhat shy when associating emotion with sex, since she's had so little experience with that association, they also have a lot of sex scenes where one of them asks 'where do you want me to touch you?' or suggests positions or body parts that might be involved, while still keeping the scene fluid and uninterrupted. I think this is a great model to see in books. I also enjoy the reversal of the usual emotional roles in Vitala and Lucien's romance. Vitala is the one who has dedicated her life to a cause, and is perfectly willing to give up her love as well as her life to cause Riorca's freedom. It is Lucien who tries for days to get Vitala to let him ride back to the capital after the coup and rescue his 12yo sister from a forced marriage even though he would do much better running and gathering an army if he wishes to keep his throne. Finally, someone acknowledges that women can have causes and make political decisions! Vitala may choose to ignore her orders, either from the Obsidian Circle or her emperor-lover, but she continues to advance her personal cause, the overall freedom of Riorca, throughout the book, no matter which cultural group she is moving within. I could say a lot more about this book and why I really like it - writing, protagonists that you really like. Time constraints exist, however, and I am going to let you experience the rest of it yourself.

  • Sonia189
    2019-03-21 02:14

    Interesting concepts, situations... but some narrative choices felt lacking for me or were simplistic in their reasons which seemed weak. The romance had its moments but wasn't as "romantic" and well paced as I would have liked, so I wasn't always eager to keep reading.

  • Katerina
    2019-02-23 08:20

    I have to be honest,I started reading Assassin's Gambit because of the gorgeous cover.I can't even describe how happy I am that the inside was even better!Vitala Salonius.Half Riorcan,half Kjallan,she was never accepted by neither of them.Until the Obsidian Circle,an underground organisation that struggles for Riorca's freedom,recruits her and forges her into a weapon,an assassin with one goal;kill the emperor and spread civil war to a crumbling empire.Preparing her entire life for this moment,she never expected to fall for her target.Lucien Florian Nigellus.A young emperor striving to hold an empire that faces numerous problems,including economical crisis,rebellions and betrayals.The fact that he is crippled due to a failed assassination attempt doesn't give him much credit.When these two meet,the entire universe explodes.Through coups,alliances and hard choices,Lucien's brilliant strategic mind and Vitala's ruthlessness and training have the potential to unite two peoples who hate each other in the face of a common enemy.Amy Raby did a fantastic job in painting the politics,the intrigue,the sensitive matter of post-traumatic stress disorder and the battle strategies.The magic system was fresh,something I had never encountered before,with the Riftstones and the Shards and the wardbreakers.But the main theme of the book is the romance between Vitala and Lucien.It started as physical attraction (and they had some very steamy scenes together),the love and trust followed afterwards .Vitala had to balance her commitment to saving her country,a country that never accepted her,with her growing feelings for a man she thought he was the enemy, and had to make some decisions that bereaved her of everything she held dear until then.Lucien was also a complex character,I loved the fact that he wasn't physically perfect and that this didn't stop him from being his smug confident self.They were broken,both of them,and they accepted and embraced that.I love deeply the books which combine war,politics,assassins and romance,and the Assassin's Gambit fits this profile perfectly.A pleasant surprise,I am absolutely going to read more of the Hearts and Thrones series.

  • Mei
    2019-03-21 06:28

    What an unexpected treat! :DI loved this book!It has fantasy, intrigue, romance and sizzling chamistry!Vitala is deadly! She's been trained for years to kill the Emperor and it is inconceivable that she's falling for him!Lucien is in a very difficult position: in an Empire where phisical strenght is highly valued he's one leg short - literally! But his mind is very, very good!They're both dangerous in a very different ways and they're perfect for each other. Theri chemistry is strong and it is inevitable that they'll fall for each other!Great world building and great love story! I'm waiting anxiously to read the next installment in this series! :D

  • Tim Mcdaniel
    2019-03-15 09:20

    I didn't really expect to like this book. I am generally disappointed by a lot of romantic fantasy -- the characters are obvious and shallow, the settings generic, the plots predictable. Not this one. Sure, it's a romance, so you know pretty much where the story is going, but the characters are finely drawn and complicated, the setting is fascinating and different, the magic system is unlike any I have seen before, and the plot moved along at a nice clip. A really fun book!

  • Amy Stewart
    2019-03-09 03:21

    This is a fantastic debut novel by author Amy Raby. It's an entertaining combination of romance, fantasy, and intrigue. The world is original. The characters have depth. The writing is amazingly smooth and engaging. The plot moves along at a fast clip with the end of every chapter leading you to turn the page. It is a very fun story! I won't spoil the plot, but I do recommend it to anybody who wants to pour a glass of wine and curl up on the couch with a great book!

  • Lisa {Silverlight} {Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Reviews}
    2019-03-05 05:37

    Debut Author, Amy Raby has won me over in this action infused, romantic, fantasy read. With a strong female protagonist, a fantastic story, and witty enthralling characters that had depth. I must admit, what first drew my attention of this book was that gorgeous cover. The dress, the dagger, the castle in the background, the moon and I mean come on that cover model is gorgeous. So yes, without even reading the synopsis, I already was super excited to read this book, then after reading the synopsis, this book had me 110%.Vitala, is an assassin. She has trained her whole life in The Circle, a well hidden, magically infused group of mercenaries(although they are not paid) who are fighting against the wrongs of kingdoms led by rulers. These rulers are hurting the people of the kingdom, and the only way the Circle can wrong their right is to kill the leaders. Lucien, is the Emporer of one of these Kingdoms, who turns out to be Vitala's next target, her most important target that she has trained her whole life to take down.Vitala's training started at an early age, learning how to become a killer, among killer's. She is strong, smart, and has a way about her that just spells --FIERCE! She has an undeniable death blow that comes in the form of shards, that can be willed from her as to strike down her opponent. As she sets up how she will get into Lucien's world and befriend him, she uses her training of the Caratuga game(a chess like game) to befriend Lucien. He of course is impressed that he has found a worthy opponent in the game. He warms up to her, and gifts her with her very own set of the game. She of course, is using any, and every angle to learn how she will kill, Lucien. She even beds him, and is itching for the kill, when it seems that all hell let's loose and what was once her trying to kill Lucien, turns out their are others who are after his head, and she's not to happy about it. See, she seems to have fallen for the emporer and his charming, likable ways. As she rescues him, and journey's with him, they are slowly falling in love with each other, and she learns that Lucien may not be as evil, as the Circle first thought. She learns that although he is the Emporer their are others who enforce their own rule when it comes to enforcing the counties of the kingdom, and those men are the truly bad. Much of what Vitala learns about Lucien comes from his trusted men. Men who will stand behind their leader, as they call him a fair, and a true hands-on leader who would fight right along his own men. Lucien is not a typical leader, and is not like his Father or Grandfather. He actually cares about his men, and does seem to care about the people of the Kingdom, although he knows nothing can be changed overnight, he takes all the right steps into righting the wrong of those who are after him, and whom have wronged or deceived him. Lucien and Vitala's love for each other grows throughout this book, and it makes for a great romance as these two stand side by side, ready for battle.Without spoiling the rest, I will tell you why I LOVED this book! First we get one strong, kick butt heroine, plus she knows how to wear a dress and look fierce! She actually reminds me of an older, version of Megan Fox. Anyway, back to why I heart this so much. Well, it has a great story line, adventure, romance, and it has some great messages behind the story. I found The Assassin's Gambit to truly be captivating, and fans of fantasy/adventure stories will enjoy this book. I also found the fantasy aspects to not be overwhelming and can be easily followed.If you like a great plot, fleshed out well, with a captivating storyline and characters, with depth and some romantic heat. You will enjoy this story. Fans of Young Adult reads like Throne Of Glass by Sarah J Mass, and Touch Of Power by Maria Snyder will enjoy this step up into an Adult Fantasy read. I'm looking forward to continuing on with the second book in this series, Spy's Honor.QUOTES~"It's not really that," she said. "It's that I don't belong here-or anywhere. In Riorca, people hate my Kjallan half; in Kjall, they hate my Riorcan half. I had a home in the Circle, where there were others like me, but now I don't even have that.I have nothing, Lucien. I have nobody.""I've been called many things, Vitala, but never have I been called a nobody.""I don't mean you. I mean there's no group where I belong.""We'll make our own group. You belong with me." He'd never spoken words more true. She did belong with him. For all the women he'd been with, he'd never found a more perfect companion for himself than Vitala."We're neither of us flawless. You accept my broken parts, and I'll accept yours."

  • FV Angela
    2019-03-15 10:35

    Review originally posted at is a rebel assassin who has only ever had one mission, to get into the bed of the Emperor of Kjall and kill him. To achieve her goal she has become a champion of Caturanga, a war like game based on strategy and skill and also an obsession of the Emperor Lucian. As a half Kjall and half Riorcan Vitala is an outsider living in a world where the only people who have ever accepted her are the people who have been training her for murder.I wanted to like this book. I really did. I went into it hoping I would find another fantasy/ paranormal romance to love. Unfortunately I struggled with the characters, the world building and even the plot. Assassin’s Gambit opens up with Vitala making her way to the emperor’s palace. She has become a champion caturanga player in order to get close Lucien in the hopes that she can seduce him and kill him while in bed. Lucien is a war mage and the only way to kill a war mage is to take him unawares in a specific moment. She’s been training since she was a young girl for just this. This time and this purpose. Her mother’s people, the Riorcans, have been enslaved by the empire of Kjall for years and the hope is that if she can manage to take their leader out the empire will be in such chaos that the rebels can take over the government.Vitala and Lucien seem to bond from the start. Over their board game they develop an interest in each other and Lucien soon asks Vitala to join him on a trip to squash a minor skirmish in a small village. This is the point in the story where I started having issues. Vitala is portrayed as a bad ass assassin, but she turns her back on the only life she’s ever known and the job she’s trained for since she was a girl immediately. Once they get to the outskirts of the village these two are ambushed by traitors in Lucien’s government. Vitala did her duty and managed to get Lucien in bed, before she can complete her mission they are overcome, Lucien is beaten and Vitala is raped. From this point on Vitala becomes Lucien’s partner, at one point even rescuing him from the very people who she promised to kill him for. She decides that her mission has changed and by keeping him alive she will in the end achieve the same goal of throwing the government into chaos.I think my disappointment with this story comes from thinking that there could have been more fleshing out of all the characters, more tension between Lucien and Vitala, just more of everything. I never believed Vitala as the deadly assassin, once she decides to save Lucien and join him in his quest to regain his throne she lost all credibility. I mean she’s been training for this almost her entire life and she falls in love and it all goes away? In an instant? Lucien finds out she’s his enemy and he never even has a minute of doubt about her motives? I also struggled with Vitala’s sexual issue. It was obviously inserted into the story to create some conflict between the two main characters, but I found the whole thing to be unbelievable. As well as the way she and Lucien discover how to overcome it. In the end the difficulties I had with the characters, their motivations and the way the storyline played out overcame any enjoyment I might have had. Final Grade: D+Favorite Quote: “We’ll make our own group. You belong with me.”

  • Alex West
    2019-03-23 03:19

    What struck me from the opening pages is how smoothly this book integrates action, character development, and setting. It was vivid, sexy and intriguing right from the start. I just loved that early passage where Vitala looks at a pistol and covets it. In the space of a paragraph, this tells us all about Vitala's character, the culture, and the technological era of the world, without slowing down for a laborious description. These kind of choices make it a deceptively easy read.The characters are smart and three dimensional, the world feels real, and there is a well crafted original magic system which is integral to the plot. The sex scenes are carefully written, explicit but not overdone, and obviously relevant.The central premise - assassin sent to kill the Emperor falls in love with her target - is well handled. The first half of the book does a really good job of explaining how these two fall in love with each other despite their massively conflicting interests. Raby takes us right inside Vitala's skin. By contrast, Emperor Lucien seems held more at arms length, even in his POV scenes, although I suspect this is because Raby is withholding information she wants to reveal as a twist later in the novel.I think the first half of the book is very satisfying regardless of whether you are looking to read romance, or fantasy generally. Around the half-way mark is where I suspect romance fans and spec fic fans will diverge. The world-building which is established in the opening half is relied upon but not extended during the second half, and the war takes a definite back seat compared to developments in the romance.I had a bit of trouble with a few chapters round the 3/4 mark. I'm not typically a romance reader and I struggled with the characters angsting about their performance in the bedroom when they were supposed to be fighting a desperate war against a powerful enemy determined to annihilate them. They're otherwise smart, mature characters, who have already overcome a history of war crimes, aborted a crucial assassination mission, and been thrown out of their respective homelands to be together, so all this worry about whether their bedroom activities would be 'normal' seemed bizarre. I couldn't see why a character like Vitala would aspire to be normal, or where her notion of what was normal even came from. There was also a logical incongruity that Vitala's bedroom issues would bother her so much that she runs away from Lucien, when they barely fazed her when they were a major obstacle to carrying out her assassination mission. Thankfully, the bedroom-performance-trouble section only lasts a few chapters before the characters seem to remember there is an impending invasion, and there are a few other things to worry about like whole villages being staked to death.Both the romance and political/war plots wrap up convincingly. Raby does a good job at coming up with a plot where Vitala can convincingly play a role in winning the war, creating a strong sense that she and Lucien are well-matched equals.Overall, this is an excellent fantasy romance, edgy and sexy.

  • Gretchen
    2019-03-21 03:30

    * I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review.Assassin's Gambit kept me up until 2:30 in the morning. I actually started off reading it with a pencil, some paper, and a highlighter in order to take notes, write down problems, questions, and whatever else popped into my head just to give the author a "legitimate" review. By the end of chapter two, I was no longer taking notes, the highlighter was forgotten, and I was just reading it for enjoyment. This, to me, has to be the highest complement I can give someone...I honestly did not want to do anything except immerse myself in the story. That being said, here is a little about the book:***Small Spoilers Ahead***Assassin's Gambit is the story of Vitala. Her country, Riorca, has been under the control of another for generations. The conditions of her country are horrible; the taxes are high, many of the people are slaves, and the people are often impaled for little to no reason. Yet a small hope remains. The Obsidian Circle is a group of resistance fighters. The Circle takes in the mixed children, who look like their Kajallan oppressors, and trains them to be spies, fighters, and assassins. Their goal is to free Riorca from Kajal.Vitala is sent to assassinate Emperor Lucian of Kajal. What she doesn't know is that Lucian is the target of assassination by his own subjects. Instead of completing her mission, Vitala rescues Lucian, starting a series of events that will eventually lead to love and war...***End of Spoilers***Raby is exceptional at enabling the reader to visualize what is happening. The description, in my opinion, is just right--not too much, causing boredom and "enough already" thoughts--but enough that you can easily imagine the magic, the surroundings, the action, and most importantly, the characters. By the end of Chapter 2, I was engrossed in what was happening. This does not happen often, as many authors get caught up in giving too much background information. The story flows well with a very natural feeling series of action/quiet times and no misspellings or other obvious grammatical errors.I was amazed at how well she handled the underlying themes of racism and PTSD. PTSD is, in my opinion, a hard illness to explain and to not go overboard with. I felt that she treated it with not only the respect that it deserves for the sufferers, but with just enough information and description that you could realize what was going on and sympathize with it while rooting for the characters to be able to function normally. Racism and PTSD were relatively minor themes, but Raby should be given kudos for handling them so well.All in all, this was a wonderful book and I would highly recommend it. I look forward to the sequel, and fervently hope that she continues this series.

  • Ruby
    2019-03-22 10:18

    This review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.Ah, fantasy! I love delving into worlds that exist only in authors’ minds, seeing what new rules they come up with and how the magic works. It’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy (as compared to a paranormal, which generally takes place in our world, but with magic), but it’s just like riding a bike. Muscle memory is everything, folks.I knew pretty early on that Assassin’s Gambit wasn’t written for me. I’m not the target audience, this is not the kind of book I like, and the writing was not good enough to bring me above my preferences. Stacia Kane set a pretty high standard for me in this regard. It takes talent to make a drug addict into one of the best heroines this side of awesome. Amy Raby, unfortunately, isn’t Stacia Kane.Given such a strong statement, I should probably explain. I didn’t like either of the main characters and the world was constantly reminding me of Ancient Rome–but not–(and Caturanga, of chess–but not). As I read, I remembered that I dislike assassin heroines, in particular ones who sleep with their marks. Call me priggish, puritanical and judgmental–I just can’t identify with that kind of heroine. It’s not in me. Then, there was the hero. He was too beta, too “sensitive.” There is, in fact, a scene in which the hero crawls around on his hands and knees at the mercy of his enemies. That just about killed the story. There really wasn’t any coming back from that.Once Vitala’s big secret is revealed, and she breaks from the organization that sent her to kill Lucien, things improve a little. Lucien has his chance to shine and Vitala stops sleeping with guys in order to get close enough to kill them. That right there was a major improvement, if too little too late. Some other stuff happens. Then, after Vitala and Lucien are married, she heads off for one last kill. With no reflection on how Lucien might feel about this. Or how she might feel about it now that she’s “fallen in love.” The quotes tell you how much I believed in the romance in Assassin’s Gambit.In all, Assassin’s Gambit was a novel that tried very hard but fell short of succeeding. I’m interested to see some other reviews, especially some from a much less jaundiced eye than mine.

  • The Window Seat
    2019-03-13 07:29

    In my mind, I don't expect a debut author to get it PERFECT the first time out. Especially when there is a new series starting. There are growing pains. Hey - to me, Dark Lover isn't even that great a book and Ward wasn't a debut author. But I stuck with the series because the characters pulled me in and I think I will probably feel the same way about the Hearts and Thrones series by Amy Raby.Vitala is a trained assassin with the Obsidian Circle. For years, she has been training for the biggest mission there could ever be - the assassination of Lucien. At first she is training to kill the Emperor's heir, but when Lucien becomes Emperor, her task increases in status. But there is a catch. Lucien is a war mage. As such, he is able to sense an attack coming no matter when or from where. But even a war mage has an Achilles heel. If Vitala can seduce him, she can attack and kill him at the moment he is having an orgasm. That is when he is distracted and vulnerable. And yes, for years, Vitala has been training for that very moment.For the full review, please go to

  • XxTainaxX
    2019-03-20 07:15

    The tale that Amy weaves is spellbinding. She immerses the reader in this highly detailed and unique war-ridden world full of magic, wonder, intrigue, and love despite the obstacles and differences. The intricacy she puts into creating this imagery for us is seriously commendable and unlike anything I’ve seen from a writer in a long time. The love is imperfect and all the more valuable for it. The protagonist, Vitala, has lived through some very powerful situations that have shaped her actions and speech in the story. The fact that Amy was able to capture that and set the characters apart with discernible characteristics is amazing. This romance, has enough elements to attract a different type of reader audience. For example, those that like more action and plot development in their story versus a constantly hot and heavy romance whose plot may not be as much a priority. Its potential is vast and Amy did a great job conveying that to us as her readers. Lucien is special in his own way and quite the personality. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and I’d recommend it to anyone needing a little action in their life.

  • Nonny
    2019-02-22 07:07

    This was excellent. I happened upon it by a review at The Book Pushers, and simply had to have it. An assassin heroine with PTSD who struggles with her love for her mark, who is an emperor and an amputee? Sign me up!I really loved this. As someone who has PTSD, or PSTD like symptoms, the descriptions of Vitala's "visions" were dead on, and I nearly cried reading someone describe ways that I felt -- and Lucien, able to sympathize via his own experiences.The only reason this is a 4 star vs. a 5 is because of the amount of "if only they talked" based conflict. I can see where they are coming from, but for me, it was too over-the-top, especially when they both had shown themselves to be sympathetic and understanding of one another. It seemed contrived to me.That being said, that's a minor quibble about an amazing book that I would heartily recommend. I can't wait for the author's next book!

  • DemetraP
    2019-03-15 09:21

    An awesome fantasy romance. All of the characters have done good and bad things; it's shades of grey, not black and white. An assassin is sent to kill the Emperor. Only someone else tries to kill him first. Along the way, they fall in love and have to save the country. Both hero and heroine are interesting characters. The hero is missing half a leg due to a war injury and the heroine has visions of the people she's killed that incapacitate her at inconvenient times. The plot kept me guessing and I eagerly turned the pages to find out what happened next. I highly recommend this book.

  • Marlene
    2019-03-18 02:22

    I am one of the lucky people who saw this story in its raw form. Reading it again as a full-fledged book has been a wonderful treat. Amy Raby has a sure and deft talent, and she spins a richly detailed story of intrigue and love in a fantasy world reminiscent of ancient Rome. With magic.Assassin’s Gambit is fantasy romance, but Amy includes a strong subplot of political upheaval, betrayal, and battle strategy. There’s plenty of adventure along with the romance. You’ll be caught up in the story from the first page. Be prepared to lose sleep. This is one of those books you won’t want to put down.

  • Kathleen
    2019-02-23 02:10

    I loved this. Great balance of epic fantasy and romance! I was immediately pulled into a wonderful world of magic - war mages, assassins, wardbreakers, etc. It was exciting and a lot of fun to read. Definitely a debut novel worth the read. (*Many thanks to goodreads and the author. I won this from a signed giveaway.)

  • Tammy
    2019-03-11 05:30

    Great read. Lot of twists and turns, enough to keep me up all night. Loved Vitala and Lucien two great characters with lots of depth,I loved learning about them. Lots of action and a great romance!

  • Denise Always Awry
    2019-03-24 02:37

    This review can be found on my blog.

  • Gina
    2019-03-16 03:20

    I love it when I am reading a book and the story twists and turns in ways that I did not expect. Such a great book! I could not put it down.(I received a free copy of this book from goodreads.)