Assassins of Alamut by James Boschert

Assassins of Alamut (Talon #1) Assassins of Alamut by James Boschert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

During an attack on a caravan, Frankish soldiers are drawn into battle with the Turks. At the same time, a second, smaller group of interlopers snatches fourteen-year-old Talon de Gilles and the priest Jean de Loche and whisks them away from Palestine. Not once during the long journey to Persia is Talon permitted a chance to escape, and he soon learns that a silent captive suffers fewer beatings.

There is little Sir Huges de Gilles can do to rescue his son. The only ones who might have a chance are the Templars, but their network of intelligence doesn’t extend into the mountainous regions of Persia where Talon has been taken. He may never see his son again, because the Saracen sect that has taken him works for the Master and are called “Assassins.” They wage a silent, murderous war on Christians and Muslims alike. They are feared by everyone, but fear no one. Once an Assassin slays his target, he expects to die and go to Paradise.

In the castle of Samiran, Talon is kept alone in a room without windows. All he has known has been taken from him, and he expects death to be his future. But the Master has other plans for this noble boy. He is of an age where he can be trained and molded to do the Master’s bidding, and one day in the future, Talon will infiltrate a royal court and murder an infidel king. The priest is of lesser worth, but his knowledge of Latin and the ways of Christians will help other boys learn to be invisible when their chance for Paradise comes.

Taken from his solitary prison, Talon is taught all the necessary skills of an assassin and the ways of the Ismaili. His partner in training is Reza, and because he accepts Talon, both boys are never fully trusted by the others. As time passes they become experts in archery, fighting with blades, wielding all manner of weapons, and the art of stealth. Talon also learns about Persia’s history and people. His first real test comes not in training exercises or demonstrations, but on the hunt when he and another boy are tracking a lion. After the other boy is badly wounded, Talon risks his own life to save the other boy. The wounds he suffers nearly kill Talon, but his slaying of the beast gain him stature and respect among the Ismaili at the castle.

While convalescing, Talon meets the beautiful Rav’an, the thirteen-year-old sister of the Master. A friendship is kindled in the garden, but such contact is dangerous for both of them. Rav’an understands what awaits Talon and that there can be no future for them together, but still she savors each rendezvous. She comes to trust him and knows he will protect her no matter what. When her brother sends her to Alamut while he travels to Syria, she asks that Talon and Reza be named as her protectors. Rather than be parted from his friend, Talon asks Rav’an to seek permission for Father John to accompany them as well.

Rav’an’s faith in her protectors is well placed, for they keep her alive when an enemy band attacks their party on the way to Alamut. She has always liked this castle where she was raised, but even before they enter its gates, she notices changes. The people are fearful and a sense of foreboding permeates the fortress high in the mountains. She soon discovers the reason why – her uncle and cousin rule through fear. Uncle Arash has the eyes of a cobra and his network of spies throughout the Middle East makes him a powerful and devious man. Cousin Ahmad is overly protective and always telling her what to do. The more she is around them, the more she begins to fear she may never see her brother again. She enlists Talon’s help and he soon discovers her fears are well founded.

Rather than allow the treachery of Arash and Ahmad to succeed, she and her protectors, with the aid of Father John and her maid, plan their escape. Timing will be crucial. They must leave just as the first snow falls and before the mountain passes are sealed shut for the winter. But two will have to sacrifice themselves to succeed in this venture. Even after they reach their first safe haven, there are many more dangers to face before they can find and warn the Master. Even then, they may not be safe.

Assassins of Alamut takes place during the Crusades and is the first book in the Talon series. Boschert includes maps and a glossary of Persian words to help readers unfamiliar with this culture. This epic adventure in exotic locales is reminiscent of the historical sagas popular in the 1970s and 1980s. From first page to last you are whisked back in time, yet although set in the past, this story is relevant to what happens in the world today – children stolen from their parents and trained to fight, religious fanaticism, and senseless killing to further one’s goals. Hope, love, and loyalty are intertwined with hatred, jealousy, and betrayal. You shiver from the cold. You smile as love unfolds. You hold your breath as each new danger appears. Whether the well-drawn characters warm your heart or creep you out, this haunting and captivating story spins a spidery web around you so that when the last page is turned, you are compelled to read the next book to learn what becomes of Talon and Rav’an.

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Published on October 22, 2017 13:42 Tags: assassins-of-alamut, christians, crusades, historical-novel, james-boschert, muslims, palestine, persia
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