***Disclaimer: I received a free early access copy of The Sword and the Dagger by Robert Cochran from NetGalley and Tor/Forge for review purposes. Thanks so much!
What initially drew me to this book was the title and cover. Once I read the summary, the historical fiction aspect drew me in, especially since takes place during the Crusades which is a time period you just don’t see much of in young adult fiction.
When empires clash,
a Princess, a Knight, and an Assassin
embark on the quest of a lifetime
During the time of the Crusades, an unlikely trio—a Christian princess, her affianced prince, and a Muslim assassin—embarks on a quest to the court of the most fearsome warrior the world has ever known, Genghis Khan.
A rousing tale of adventure and romance about three young people who must grapple with fundamental issues of loyalty, friendship, faith, honor, and courage against the backdrop of conflicts that still resonate today.
Elaine is the princess of Tripoli who is betrothed to the prince of Antioch, Conrad, in hopes of an alliance between the two countries during the time of the Crusades. As the last two Christian lands, their marriage is important for political reasons. Rashid is an Assassin which is an extremist Muslim sect. He’s sent to kill Elaine for promises of going to Paradise.
Once the assassination attempt fails, Elaine decides to rescue Rashid in hopes to discover why and who wanted her dead. Conrad learns of their escape and joins them on their journey that is given to them by the Old Man, the leader of the Eagle’s Nest. They are the find out about what is causing the deaths by whistling, feathered arrows.
First of all, this interested me because of the age old conflict of religion, specifically between the Christians and Muslims which is still very prominent in today’s society. The mentions of Assassins as well as a brief mentions of Templars immediately brought the first Assassin’s Creed game to mind. Something like that can be relevant to most people.
I loved the aspect of three people from extremely different backgrounds having to band together for a common cause. It’s rather trope-y, but for this plot it’s very appropriate. Despite the formula for a love triangle situation, there isn’t one. For a majority of the story everything is strictly platonic.
Elaine is an extremely amazing character and I love how strong willed she was. For the time period it’s more unheard of and I like that she’s just as strong as the two men. The sacrifices she gives and her stubborn determination is relatable. While they all evolve, Conrad probably have the most character growth. Conrad has a shadow of his older brother hanging over him making that his weakness. His constant disagreement with Rashid is understandable and I like how they have those moments of agreement. I also really liked Rashid because he sticks to his values and fits the role of an assassin. He’s careful and plans things out before jumping into action in contrast to Conrad and sometimes Elaine.
The story is predictable at times, but it’s an easy read. It kept me interested because it showed the different POV from each character back to back so it wasn’t jumping back and forth. I think it’s a great novel for someone who is transferring from screenwriting to prose.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am totally recommending it!