Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Review of The Penitent Assassin by Shawn Wickersheim

Shawn happens to be a Twitter friend of mine (@stwick) but don’t think that’s influenced my review. I wouldn’t say if it wasn’t the truth, and those of you who know me well know just how true that particular statement is – some of you to your regret. I don’t regularly review books, but I think I have pretty high standards. The Penitent Assassin is better than the latest Terry Goodkind book (The Omen Machine) and it runs rings around Sara Douglass’s last series (Darkglass Mountain).

Technically classified as dark fantasy, in my opinion it still counts as high fantasy. It ticks all the boxes, including a confrontation between good and evil. Looks like high fantasy to me – multiple books optional! So if you’re a lover of fantasy of any kind, you should definitely check this out.

The Penitent Assassin is dark and gritty and will take you on a rollercoaster ride through a vivid yet fantastical world of crime, drug-addiction and evil powers. This is a book that will take you by the scruff of the neck and shake you, and you don’t get to walk away until it’s finished with you. Around every corner lurks a new surprise. 

If you’re interested, don’t read the blurb. It contains a spoiler. I hadn’t read it until I was halfway through the book, and two lines into the blurb, I stopped. I knew immediately I didn’t want to finish reading the blurb because I could see it was about to ruin the maelstrom of tension and conflict building. Suffice to say, Mallor wants a magical artefact, the Armillae, for multiple reasons, some of which become apparent over the course of the book. It seems like everyone else wants it, too. We don’t know who is for Mallor, and who is against, and the wondering will keep you turning the page. 

Be warned; nothing is as it seems! Really, nothing. I’m not joking. The whole book takes place over a very short period of time – I forget exactly, a few days I think, definitely no more than a week – and the pace of the book is commensurate with so much action being crammed into such a short period of time.

I am not much of an indie author fan. Not because I think indie authors can’t be good, but because self-publishing provides an avenue for people who think writing is nothing more than putting pen to page, who know nothing about the craft of writing, to publish absolute crap. And those people clog the market and make it hard to find the proverbial needle in a haystack, because the needles are very few and far between, and the haystack is unbelievably huge. In fact, last year there were around 3,000,000 books published and a great many of them were self-published.

The Penitent Assassin is one of those needles you want to find. It’s solidly written and shows a dedication to the writing craft on the part of the author. If you take pleasure in not just an exciting and interesting storyline, but also a well-crafted book, this is a novel for you.

I give The Penitent Assassin nine out of ten. Just so you know, I don’t use a five star scale because I just don’t believe there is enough scope in it to do justice to every book. It costs $2.99 (a bargain by any measure) and you can find it here

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Kirkus MacGowan said...

Right on! Good review. 

It's funny, I literally just posted my review of Omen Machine a few days ago and The Penitent Assassin not long before. I completely agree with your assessment. The best part is, Shawn is a cool guy! Good Twitter pal of mine. Maybe you can join me in nudging him along on the next book!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I saw them both, it's funny, I did the Omen Machine last year. We should be cross-promoting LOL

Shawn assures me there will be two books this year. I'm holding him to that. 

KJ Waters said...

I love this review as I am right in the middle of The Penitent Assassin and thoroughly enjoying it! It is a wild ride written by a masterful storyteller with a very creative mind. I've also enjoyed the twitter abuse, ah, I mean teasing about what is coming up next in the book from Kirkus (see previous comment) and Shawn egging me on to get to the next controversial scene. Good work Shawn. I'm nearly ready for your next novel! Get that bad boy written so I don't have to wait!! 

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 I think you're going to have to! Shawn has just told me his next book is not a sequel to The Penitent Assassin, but hopefully the sequel will be out by the end of the year.

Krystal Wade said...

What an amazing review. Shawn in a friend of mine too, and his book is on my TBR list. I'm going to have to read it very soon! :-)

Shawn Wickersheim said...

Just to set the record straight, I'm hoping to have The Rush of Betrayal Part 1 available sometime in June 2012 and Part 2 available sometime this fall 2012. While it is not a direct sequel to The Penitent Assassin, it is set in the same world. It will have new characters in it, however, there will be aspects of the story that might add another layer of understanding to the greater world already visited in The Penitent Assassin. Once both parts of The Rush of Betrayal are available, I will be turning my attention to a sequel to The Penitent Assassin.

Thank you Ciara for a wonderful review. I will be in contact with you soon about the upcoming interview and I intend to post some new material over on my blog this month (I know, I'm not a regular blogger - sorry!)

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 Go. Read it. Right now. It's awesome. I can't say this enough.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 Oh, gosh, fall 2012 so confuses me. It IS fall 2012 here right now! I'll take this to mean somewhere in the vicinity of September - November LOL It really was my pleasure to write this review. Good indie books can be hard to find, so when they ARE found, they deserve to have the hell promoted out of them.

Shawn Wickersheim said...

That's right! Sorry about the confusion. LOL. Yes, I'm hoping to have Part 2 out somewhere in the vicinity of Sept-Nov 2012. I'll have a better idea once I'm done with Part 1. And obviously, the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can start writing the next book--The Penitent Assassin sequel.

Shawn Wickersheim said...

Thank you. :)

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