Review: The Heart of Betrayal | Delving into a World

Review: The Heart of Betrayal | Delving into a WorldThe Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on July 7th, 2015
Genres: High Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 470
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five-stars

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia's life, her 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 savages. Now that she lives among 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.

WARNING: Because of the nature of this series, this review will unavoidably spoil the first novel, The Kiss of Deception, if you haven’t already read it. You’ve been warned.

As always, it has been far too long since I’ve read this book to just be sitting down to write the review for it now. Nonetheless, I will endeavor to communicate my love for The Heart of Betrayal.

When I finished The Kiss of Deception, I hoped for more. I enjoyed it and it left quite the impact on me but I hoped Pearson would dive further into the world of The Remnant Chronicles. What makes these nations tick? Who are these people really? For months afterward, I hoped that the stakes would increase with the sequel. The Remnant Chronicles had so much potential and I wanted to see more.

I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, I can’t think of a negative thing to say about this book. I’m still just as torn as ever with who Lia should be in love with. On the hand, there’s Kaden and on the other there’s Rafe. Both are good people at their core, but Kaden has made a lot of mistakes.

Kaden has a trouble past. However, Kaden did his best to protect Lia while she was in Venda. He isn’t heartless and that’s what makes this so difficult. Yes, he is the reason Lia is there in the first place but he also loves her and doesn’t know how that fits in with the lies that have been repeated since he was a young boy. There’s quite a lot vying for his attention. Kaden’s heart is his most redeeming quality. It’s also the one thing that puts him at the most risk.

Rafe… well, who can’t like Rafe? He’s perfect without being annoying. I don’t mean literally perfect. Yes, he makes mistakes but Rafe didn’t have to end up in Venda. Rafe could have turned away but he went looking for Lia and goes through a lot because of that. Through it all though, he never blames her. He never hates her for it. He only wishes he could get her to safety. I like Rafe and I won’t be sad if Lia ends up with him; but I won’t be sad if she ends up with Kaden either. As it is though, I have my own predictions for Kaden…

Venda is an interesting place, wrought with poverty. The commoners are welcoming but the elite are cruel and many of them barbaric. I actually found each exploration into the desert country quite interesting and enlightening.

I’ve already delved into the Komizar quite a bit so I’ll keep it short. The Komizar has deceived an entire nation. He wants power and pretends to want to save his people from such debilitating starvation, but he starves them in his own way and it’s marvelous to see how much he can contradict himself. Despite his obvious issues (what with his being evil and all), I liked the Komizar. He was the perfect addition to the Remnant Chronicles and brought an interesting dynamic to the book that kept me guessing as to what type of person he would end up being. Was he really the monster Rafe believed? Or was he flawed yet good in his own way as Kaden saw him for much of the book? Lia was caught in this web as well and I basically mirrored her as she ping-ponged between her opinion.

As far as the actual world building goes, bring it on. Pearson really explored The Gift in this book quite a bit and wove it into Venda and Morrighan’s history. Lia is skilled at translating ancient texts and she continues to do so in The Heart of Betrayal, revealing a much more complicated world than I had anticipated.

I’m not quite sure what the author plans on doing with all of this information but I do know that a) she wrote a novella based on some of it and b) she surpassed my own hopes and expectations so I have complete trust in where she takes The Beauty of Darkness. I’m extremely eager to see how it all ends.

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