Title: The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication Date: July 7thth, 2015
Kindle Edition: 480 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape . . . and even less of being together.
Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komisar that she has a magical gift, and the Komisar’s interest in Lia is greater than either Kaden or Lia foresaw.
Meanwhile, the foundations of Lia’s deeply-held beliefs are crumbling beneath her. Nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to her, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom she always believed to be barbarians but whom she now realizes are people who have been terribly brutalized by the kingdoms of Dalbreck and Morrighan. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her very sense of self, Lia will have to make powerful choices that affect her country, her people . . . and her own destiny.
“I beg your forgiveness, Your Eminence. I would not truly feed your face to the hogs. It might make them sick.”
The following review contains spoilers for The Kiss of Deception. If you haven’t read the first book in The Remnant Chronicles, it might be best to revisit this review when you have.
It is rare that I like a book better the second time around. Usually, I spend the reread nitpicking things that I glossed over the first time. That wasn’t the case with The Heart of Betrayal. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did gloss over things the first time through. I was still reeling from the Kaden/Rafe switch-a-roo, which left me focused on the romance and not the world building or the character development that goes on outside of the romance.
The romance doesn’t take center stage in this book. The guessing game is over. Rafe is truly Prince Jaxon of Dalbreck and Kaden is Venda’s Assassin, right hand of the Komizar. Now that this information is out in the open, the relationships develop more organically, and the characters begin to progress on their own. Lia embraces her name, her gift, and her situation. She stops spending so much time mooning over Rafe and instead devotes her time to gathering information and planning her escape. She becomes a character you can really love and root for instead of a love sick lost princess. Kaden’s development is also solid. He begins to question his place in the country he loves so much and his loyalty to its leader. Sadly, Rafe remains under developed, which probably has something to do with the fact that the other two have a deep emotional connection to Venda, and Rafe doesn’t.
We are introduced to an entirely new cast of supporting characters. While I love Pauline and friends as much as anyone else, they suffered due to the distracting romance shtick of the first book. The supporting characters in this book get more attention and feel more real. The Komizar is a clear standout, though. I love a good political schemer, and boy is he good. He plots, he schemes, and he never lets and opportunity go to waste. After all, Venda doesn’t take prisoners, unless, of course, they present a very unique opportunity.
The real star of the novel is Venda. Far more detailed that its rival Morrighan, Venda is lush and vivid. Each place Lia visits leaves a mark on her and in turn leaves a mark on the reader. The author really succeeded in making the reader fall in love with Venda alongside Lia. I almost wish that the entire series took place in Venda, because it has the best world building of all the warring nations. That said, I think the other nations feel underdeveloped because they don’t have the same impact on the main character and therefore don’t get the same amount of attention. Lia’s connection to Venda is spiritual and that translates beautifully to the reader.
With the pacing of the story picking up, The Heart of Betrayal offers a better mix of romance, action, and intrigue than The Kiss of Deception. It continues the tradition of Pearson’s beautiful writing style, but it ditches the shtick for real character development and stunning world building. If you enjoyed the first one, you should be over the moon for the sequel. I know I was.