The Assassins of Tamurin is on my top ten favorite adult books for young adults list. I read this Asian-influenced fantasy for the first time nearly 15 years ago, and I have probably read it at least that many times since. The Canadian author made me fall in love with the characters, even the characters I think I hate. Everyone in this fantasy fiction is detailed, alive, and real.
This culturally diverse book has an engaging story line and a lovable strong female lead character. When I re-read this I thought it was too good to be a first effort; the story flows along effortlessly and draws you further and further in with well-developed characters. This reads like a good espionage thriller, although the elements are somewhat different as it is a world-building storyline. A very believable world is created, and it is the perfect setting for this assassins masterpiece. From beginning to end it flows like the very river in the imaginary kingdom that carried a babe to safety, starting her on a new path in life. Lale, whose name means "lucky", grew up anything but. Found in the company of a corpse in a boat that floundered ashore, the tiny orphan was given a "home" by the superstitious river folk. They believed that since the river god saved her, it would be blasphemous and cause revenge by the ghosts of her family not to offer her shelter. Sadly, shelter is all they ever gave her; everything else, from loyalty to a scrap of kindness,was kept away from her. Lale grew up as the epitome of an abused child, not acting as a future spy. Her life was loveless, emotionless, and filled with impatience and beatings, an existence that really might have been better not to have, and certainly a hard start for someone who would become a woman assassin. That all changed one dark and fateful day. Our young woman lost the valued possession of the village women, she lost the needles needed for sewing. This led to her adventures, which bring more and more twists, turns, and pure enjoyment along the way. From the woman ruler Mother Midnight, to the Sun Lord himself, Lale will play a huge role in how her country's future will be seen.
There's love, action, betrayal, suspense, and plot twists on plot twists, all the while drawing you more into Lale's world of court intrigue. I never like putting down this book about scum and villainy. It makes me glad this book is long enough to let me linger Lale's world for a while.