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The Assassin's Curse #1-2

Magic of Blood and Sea

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A pirate princess and a cursed assassin find their fates intertwined in this gorgeous and thrilling adventure.

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an ally pirate clan. She wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to a handsome and clueless man. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns that her fiancé’s clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when this assassin, Naji, finally finds her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse—with a life-altering result. Now, Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work to complete three impossible tasks that will cure the curse.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must face the repercussions of betraying her engagement that set her off on her adventures. Together, the two must break the curse, escape their enemies, and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.

544 pages, Paperback

First published February 7, 2017

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About the author

Cassandra Rose Clarke

72 books1,449 followers
Cassandra Rose Clarke is a speculative fiction writer living amongst the beige stucco and overgrown pecan trees of Houston, Texas. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and in 2008 she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. Both of these degrees have served her surprisingly well.

During the summer of 2010, she attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, where she enjoyed sixty-degree summer days. Having been born and raised in Texas, this was something of a big deal. She was also a recipient of the 2010 Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 104 reviews
Profile Image for majo .
653 reviews280 followers
March 26, 2018


The thing is, I read this as the Assasin's Curse duology, and I love those books so much, I HAD to buy this new edition. And its in my hands now, and I re-read this beautiful book and I loved it just as much as I did the first time. I still had my problems with it. But it is amazing. If you like pirates, assassins, adventures, sea-battles, magicians, manticores and admiring characters... Please read this, and then thank me.

The last two pages ripped my heart, but I just loved that ending so so much, and even though I knew what was gonna happen, I still cried a lot. Its a sappy ending. And it's perfect.

Profile Image for nuin giliath.
196 reviews55 followers
July 22, 2020
Book 1 - The Assassin's Curse - ★★★★☆

This was a great introduction to the world and characters of this story. While we never got to see Ananna at home on her own ship, I liked whenever she would reflect on past experiences and conversations with her parents as this revealed a lot about the life she had had among pirates. What I loved even more was getting to travel around various parts of this world. From bustling city markets to a scorching desert to a river canyon to mystical floating islands, each location offered something unique and interesting. The magic system was pretty standard, but I did appreciate that there were limits involved and practitioners can even run out if they overuse it.

It did take a couple of chapters before I warmed to Ananna and became more invested in the plot. Ananna was a fierce and determined protagonist who also showed her compassionate and caring side with Naji. Speaking of Naji, he certainly fulfilled the mysterious assassin role well. Even though I wished we knew more about him by the end of this book, I did enjoy seeing his protective nature and the few glimpses of a softer side. I really liked how these two started off as reluctant allies who eventually develop a friendship through their trials and travels together.

There were two issues I had with this first book:
1) I wasn't always fond of Ananna's narration. She's written with a very unique voice and I admire the author for committing to that. However, it just didn't fit with how I imagined her sounding and came off rather jarring. (Thankfully this was less noticeable or prevalent in book 2.)

2) On its own The Assassin's Curse wasn't a satisfying story. There was a lot of setup and buildup with little payoff at this point. I'm hoping that book 2 offers some worthwhile resolutions.
Book 2 - The Pirate's Wish - ★★★☆☆

This offered a fairly satisfying conclusion with more of the seafaring adventures I had wanted since the start of book 1. While the world was never as fleshed out as I hoped it would be (there's not even a map 😕), I liked the variety of places featured. There was enough information provided that I could picture these settings in my mind and they felt believable to me.

Even though I had been looking forward to continuing the story after the cliffhanger at the end of the last book, I was a little frustrated at the beginning as the plot started off slow and dragged through the first few chapters. Thankfully, the introduction of the manticore helped to increase my interest and enjoyment. She added some much needed humor and lightness to the story. Things also began to improve with Marjani's reappearance. I liked getting to learn more about her character and past in this book.

There were two weak areas that kept me from rating this series as a whole any higher:
1) I had been intrigued by the idea of having to complete three impossible tasks in order to break their curse. I was hoping for some clever thinking and teamwork leading up to each resolution. Unfortunately, two of the three were resolved through conveniences which involved little to no effort from the characters. Then the third task was solved in a way that was both abrupt and uncomfortable. I wish these had all been handled better.

2) Overall, I enjoyed the romance and its take on the reluctant allies trope. I came to really care for these two characters and wanted them to find happiness together. However, there were times when events, decisions, or misunderstandings led to an awkwardness between them which lasted for far too long. While the ending is left open-ended, I actually thought this conclusion fit these characters and their personalities.
This was an amusing YA fantasy filled with adventure and romance. If you can overlook the convenient solutions and occasional slowness, you might enjoy this duology.

Final rating: 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Fantasy Literature.
3,226 reviews161 followers
June 6, 2017
Magic of Blood and Sea (2017) combines two of Cassandra Rose Clarke’s novels, The Assassin’s Curse (2012) and The Pirate’s Wish (2013), into one volume. Originally, these novels were published by Strange Chemistry, the YA branch of Angry Robot Books, but the imprint went defunct (as sometimes happens) and the publication rights to their various books were scattered to the four winds. In this particular case, Saga Press swooped in to save the day, and not only did The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish get a shiny new re-packaging, but two .. Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...
Profile Image for Jenni Sauer.
Author 10 books64 followers
October 8, 2020
What to even say about this lovely little volume?

It's imperfect, I won't pretend it's not. It's not a deep book or profound or life changing. But it's also exactly what my messy, imperfect heart needs. It's quirky and character driven, just a touch funny, a little wistful, and full of heart and warmth.

I didn't think I was going to like Ananna at first but the more I got to know her, the more I saw myself in her- a girl who just wants to be loved for who she is, but doesn't think she's anything special worth loving. I'd sail anywhere with her and it was a pleasure to go along with her for her adventures. The book is told from her perspective, in her own unique voice, and it's charming and heartwarming and perfect

Naji is a pure, grumpy bean. I had no idea what to make of him at first, but he holds my heart. And I can see why he holds Ananna's

I personally liked the romance. I thought the "unrequited love" angle was done especially well. But I can also see others who might not like it. So if you're not in the mood for a hint of drama, maybe skip this one. But Naji and Ananna make a great couple- I love how their relationship is enemies to unlikely allies to friends to partners to lovers. It's so natural and beautiful

The plot is fun and well paced. I wasn't really able to guess where the story was going but never felt jarred by anything. It all made sense and flowed naturally

And the end? It made me laugh and cry and was *so perfect* I can't imagine it ending any other way

There is some strong language (each of the two parts has one use of the f-word along with Ananna using the s-word every few chapters and d--- nearly every chapter). There's also some sexual content (two sex scenes that are very low-key and easy to skim, one that got steamy but was cut off, and some talk about sex). There's also a same-sex relationship between two side characters and some very heavy magic :3

Overall, I adored this book. So. Much. I'm sad it's over :/ But I'll definitely be revisiting it again because I'm not ready to say goodbye ❤️
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,567 reviews259 followers
May 2, 2020
Magic of Blood and Sea by Cassandra Rose Clarke, the collected duology of The Assassin's Curse, is a fun YA fantasy adventure with pirates and some romance. It's a good read with a lot of potential, but it never lives up to it enough to be really great. I particularly enjoyed Ananna's story, but the world building left me wanting. I needed to know so much more about her world that aren't really touched upon in the story. I was hoping for something more along the lines of S.A. Chakraborty's The City of Brass as a pirate adventure, but that never happened. Either way, if you're looking for an interesting Middle Eastern and Mediterranean inspired fantasy, you may want to try Magic of Blood and Sea.
Profile Image for Charlott.
275 reviews37 followers
June 5, 2021
It upsets me so much that so few have read this book. It deserves so much more hype!

A reread of a book that I read about 6 years ago.

I'm surprised by how well this book stood the test of time. This book is actually a bind-up of two books: The Assassin's Curse and The Pirate's Wish. On this read through, my favourite was actually The Assassin's Curse. The pacing in that one was GREAT, how the characters and settings were introduced were also so well made. Honestly, I love these books, especially the first one, and I can't really think of anything that I did not enjoy in that one.

The second half of this bind-up was a bit messier in pacing and also a bit more "random" in the plot. Still entertaining, still great with the characters and the writing, but just not as stable as the first half.

I just want more people to read these books sooooo badly. Please read it! Please please please!
Profile Image for Leo.
4,308 reviews386 followers
June 30, 2022
I had thought that my love for pirate themed YA was long over, but this one took me by surprise. I was so invested in the story and really enjoyed reading about the characters. Some I liked more than others. Such a great story and excited to read more from this series
Profile Image for Faith.
777 reviews8 followers
May 5, 2017
First of all, while this was originally available as two books in a duology it's really one story, so I would recommend reading it in the omnibus edition. Plus, the two halves on their own are short -- though put together they're a bit long, and probably could have trimmed slightly for the reissue.

The story is entertaining enough, and the world colorful. I would have liked a little more meat to the worldbuilding, and especially to the pirate confederation. In truth, the "pirate" aspect seemed more flavor than substance, as it features very little in the plot (safe for one or two battles and as a means of transport). Likewise I would have appreciated a little more about how the Jadorr'a work .

The curse and the tasks were a fine structure to hang a plot on, though I found the actual resolutions to be a bit underwhelming. The final confrontation with the Mists was also fine, though Ananna's water-magic ability when previously she had none or very little came a bit out of nowhere -- or rather it was built up as something important and then when it finally occurred everyone was just like "oh of course you can do water magic, didn't you know?"

Anyway, the book is fun even if it is a bit more flash than substance.
Profile Image for Savindi.
60 reviews46 followers
March 26, 2017
A love-struck pirate daughter
A very mysterious assassin (2-D personality)
The weakest set of villains (no background, even worse motives, cliches)

There were great epic moments, but in between them was just okay-ness. The story felt short (despite 510 pages) and lacking, at the same time somewhat beautiful. Not sure I'll continue with the series. One of favorite book covers tho.
Profile Image for USOM.
2,429 reviews199 followers
October 22, 2017
I really loved this being a duology, totally necessary! I reviewed each book separately, but I loved Ananna's story and her relationships with Marjani and Naji. This is totally amazing to read if you want some great heroines doing amazing pirate things!
Profile Image for Vassa.
351 reviews14 followers
October 29, 2022
That was such a fun read! I was eager to get back to my book every evening, and overall, I was very invested in the story. I loved the heroine, she was wonderful. I loved that she was rather plain, but very determined and smart in her own way. The main guy was fine as well, although at some points he was not mysterious enough to my liking. The manticore was my favourite character ever, she was living in her Love Island era, and I love that for her.

However, I found this book sloppy in places, as the writing style was a tad bit naive and bland. And also, for the book about pirates, there was too little piracy. I picked it up as a pirate adventure in the first place, and the first 200 pages or so they were wondering around the desert.

Overall, I would still totally recommend this book if you want a fun adventure (there is some piracy in the second part still, so I guess it's still technically a pirate story?) and especially if you want an engaging read, since this book will suck you right in.
Profile Image for Maddy Carter.
73 reviews
January 19, 2021
4.5 stars for the whole duology, 3.5 stars for The Assassin's Curse, and 5 stars for The Pirates Wish! I feel that The Assassin's Curse spent too much time on land for a pirate book & also would've benefited from less time on the Isles of the Sky. I understand that this section was pivotal to the plot, but it dragged a little. NOW The Pirate's Wish?? Everything I could ever want in a novel. The magic, the fights, the feuds, the character development?? I was worried at the beginning that it would be really cheesy especially when one of the tasks was 'true loves kiss', but I enjoyed how they did it quickly and didn't make it this big, gushy moment. I didn't really like Naji for most of the books because he was annoyingly overprotective and broody, but he improved in the end. I absolutely loved Ananna and Marjani and especially the manticore (who I hope we get to see again 😭) & I really enjoyed how detailed the side characters' stories were as well.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Felicia.
25 reviews
September 29, 2022
This book was perfection. It was easy to read and it had so many good plot twists. I never got enough of Naji and Ananna, their story is so cute. All of the characters are also well-written and so interesting.

The first chapters was kind of boring and I felt disappointed. But after that one chapter where things started to happen I realized that this book was the opposite of boring.

Definitely worth to read if you love fantasy, pirates, magic and enemies to lovers.
Profile Image for Daniëlle.
90 reviews1 follower
October 31, 2021
3,5 - 4☆ Was it good? Not particularly (especially the "create life from violence" part was pretty cringe). Was it enjoyable? Yes. Why wasn't this just one book in the first place though?
Profile Image for Desiree.
29 reviews1 follower
June 6, 2017
I really liked the bones of this story. The pirate who falls in love with the heartless assassin sent to kill her. Swoon. And that's where my love of this novel started and ended.
Because, I HATED the character Annanna. Hated, isn't even a strong enough word. She is entitled, self absorbed, immature, and just all over a god awful person.
I couldn't connect with her as a heroine because I couldn't find a single personality trait that I admired. If I met Annana in real life I know I would intensely dislike her and be more than a little afraid . This girl is violently deranged. Every encounter she has with another human she thinks about attacking them . She is incapable of even a polite conversation. Every encounter with her uses adjectives such as "snapping, snarling or growling". Like a rabid dog. She has zero communication skills, if she doesn't get her way , understand something or is embarrassed she shuts down, Attacks or refuses to allow a person to

This is why I found Naji falling in love with her so unrealistic. She NEVER allows him to speak. Any time he attempts to speak to her about anything of meaning that would deepen or change their relationship she freaks out and attempts to punch, stab and shoot him until he gives up and walks away. . If she doesn't actually attempt to physically harm him like an uncontrollable animal she thinks about it.

She knows he doesn't love her but becomes instantly hateful when he doesn't fall at her feet when she kisses him. And refuses to allow him to utter one word on the subject. EVER. LITERALLY FOR A YEAR!

Then after the manticores basically roofie him . When she realizes she was seconds away from date raping him she has zero empathy. Everything she feels is all about her and her numerous insecurities . How he could never love her, how she isn't attractive enough, and huge shocker... she refuses to allow him to speak about what happened and attacks him verbally and physically until he leaves.

I just wanted to scream. Wake the f up. Who cares if he loves you or not. Life is not always about you. The guys been drugged and served up to you on a platter. His sense of free will is seriously violated even if he does want you. And your the victim?!?

And then because she thinks he still isn't falling at her feet she considers betraying him to ECHO. Who could love this chick? She is malicious and unhinged. I refuse to believe what she is feeling inside is love. She is a mean little girl with a crush.


I feel like he was just a warm body in this story. He gets zero personality development beyond being ashamed of his scar. He never gets to truely interact with Annana beyond a superficial level because SHE WILL NOT SPEAK TO HIM! The author never allows then to talk about hard, deep or meaningful things that would have actually built a relationship of love. We get no background on him because he can't speak of his assassin history, we never learn about his family or interests.
You are basically supposed to believe they fell In love discussing getting water out of a stream and how smelly pirate ships are or something equally trivial.
I spent every scene rewriting it in my head out of frustration. For example, when he watched her dance on the boat. I wished she would have taught Naji to dance. His life is not about love it's about death, she needed to teach him about happiness and love and didn't. She just demanded he give it to her like an entitled brat.

I will admit I am biased against Naji because I tend to gravitate more towards Alpha males. I.e. Rowan in THRONE OF GLASS.
Naji seemed weak to me. Every time Annana was Insecure and petulant, he tucked tail and ran. I wanted him to man up and tell her to shut the hell up. I want him to be seductive and a warrior. I had such high hopes for Naji after the introductory Desert scene where he playfully toys with her before she kills the snake.
But after that scene he is basically worthless in every fight and she has to repeatedly save his life. This man is one of the best assassins in the world, even with the curse I expected him to do some kick ass assassin-ing and save her pathetic worthless hide. But he is constantly crying and collapsed in a corner somewhere.

Tell her to shut up , kill some bad guys and then kiss her senseless with your assassin super speed.
But none of that happened and I just had to be frustrated.
461 reviews397 followers
June 15, 2017
This book is actually a 2 for 1, with two smaller books around 200 pages each put into one larger volume - sort of like Riyria if you've read that.

I'm not sure if this is self published or not, I looked up the publisher info on the back and it said "Saga Press" and I looked that up and said it was an "Imprint of Simon and Schuster" - I have no idea what that means.

Anyway, onto the review!

I picked up this book for the bingo challenge for Seafaring. I'm actually doing multiple bingo cards this year, one for "regular" bingo, one women authored, one indie authored, and one from non western authors. We'll see if I can complete that challenge!

As it turns out this book would also count for the desert square!

When I first opened the book and started to read I was really annoyed. I have a thing for double negatives, and the word "ain't". I can't stand double negatives and the main character is just dropping them left and right. She speaks like a pirate because she IS a pirate. After about 10-12 pages I adjusted a little bit and then by 30-40 pages in I was able to ignore it for the most part. What sucks is that each time I picked it up again I had to go through that process again, I'm a little ridiculous sometimes.

Outside of the dialogue though I was really enjoying this book, the world was very well built, consistent, and realized. The main character isn't overly likeable because she's sort of ornery, but she grows on you, or at least she did for me. She's a 17-18 year old girl who was going to be married off, but didn't want to and ran from her pre-arranged marriage and escaped into a city in the desert.

So here's this pirate girl trying to survive in a desert, in a city that's not that familiar to her, with no money and assassins after her.

In this world assassin has a double meaning. One is the regular term, some man/woman hired to kill someone. The other meaning is a person who wields blood magic who's been hired to kill you, one is significantly more dangerous and it's all but unknown for someone to be able to survive that kind of hit placed on their head.

Pirates don't like being humiliated, and they really don't like when another pirate goes back on their deal. So when Ananna runs from her marriage, the family she was going to marrying into takes offense and hires the blood-magic assassin to kill her.

Ananna grows on me through the book as she gets more developed.

There's a romance in this book I didn't entirely hate. That's actually praise coming from me, it's super rare when I don't get annoyed by a romance in a book. I think the main characters ornery-ness reminded me a bit of Granny falling in love, hating it and thinking it's stupid. Maybe that's why I liked it.

Kaji is a very interesting character and I liked him a lot, more so than the main character actually. This book is single POV but you could easily say there are two main characters, wherever Ananna goes, Kaji goes too. They have been bound together by magic for better or worse after she saves his life.

There isn't a large cast, there are some supporting characters, but mostly this is a story about two people and such a narrow focus allowed for nice character development.

In this world there are multiple sources of magic, and they are used for different sorts of spells/potions. I really liked this magic even though typically I prefer magic systems. The mysteriousness of it was really well done. There's "dirt magic" "blood magic" "sea magic" "river magic" etc etc. You can combine them if you know how to create all sorts of shit. Kaji is far more knowledgeable about magic than Ananna is, and even though Ananna has shown some signs she could be a magic user, for the most part she considers herself a "none" and relies on Kaji, she prefers her sword over magic.

This book managed to cover a lot of the ground of the world as well, the pirates that hired the assassin makes for a good reason not to stick around in one place for too long, we get to see a fair amount of the world both on land and at sea. Magic islands, ocean craziness, deserts, port cities etc.

I would rate Assassins Curse as a 3.75, and the second Pirates Wish as a 4.25, rounding out to a nice 4.
Profile Image for Thelma.
598 reviews
December 24, 2020
Reread again : I really love it. I won't pretend it is perfect but I just really love it and it was just what I needed right now.

Reread thoughts : I'll never be able to read this in more than two days apparently? It doesn't reinvent the wheel but I love it. Very fast paced but also takes place over a very long amount of time in the book. Which makes the ship 100% my thing. At time some stuffs feel a bit clunky buuuuut it does so many good things. There's pocs and lgbtq+ characters, people actually communicate and sex exist!

I could probably find something wrong with book; but I really don't want to. I had a great time reading it and it had no flaws that I could pinpoint right now. This book hooked me super quick and never let go and I'm very glad for that.
The story follow Ananna, a teenage pirate who runs away from an arranged wedding. The parents of the guy she was suppose to marry send an assassin after her. But when they confront she saves his life (I know that sounds weird but it makes sense). It triggers a curse and now they are stuck together. Ananna and Naji (the assassin) now have to find a way to break this curse.
This quest takes them all over the world. They encounter strange creature and have to face tons of dangerous situations. This may not be the most original worldbuilding ever (the lack of map is a bit sad) but it had some great moments. Overall enjoyable and the world never contradicted itself so that's good.
The magic system stayed pretty mysterious. Which is okay because the story wasn't about that so I was find with not getting more explanation than 'it's magic'. There was no deus ex machina and the fact that the rules weren't explained to us didn't mean that there was no limitation on the magic.
I wasn't bothered by the lack of explanation because we didn't need more explanation about the magic for this particular story.
I've been reading a lot of adult fantasy lately (and I love it, don't get me wrong) and it's all super epic, with detailed worldbuilding and a sad lack of satisfying romance. So reading this book was the perfect break. This is about Ananna and Naji. It's their story. There's no huge cast, the bigger picture exist but they don't have to save the world or anything. They have to find a way to break this curse, that's it.
And that doesn't mean the plot was bad! It had tons of action. A few twists. Great character moments. There were tons of settings. I was never bored and I loved that. I'm just saying it was refreshing that for once we weren't saving the world or anything.
It also helped that I loved the characters SO MUCH AND SHIPPED THE SHIP!!!!!!!
Lately the books I've picked up lacked a good romance and let me tell you that Ananna and Naji saved me here.
I loved that Ananna is so independant and strong and knows what she wants. Her voice hooked me instantely. From the first line I swear I was in.
Seeing Naji through her eyes was great. At first she does not like him one bit and then you can see her learning more about him and getting attached AND IT IS PERFECTION!!! Seriously, this ship <3 I love the way it ended too. That ending fitted the characters perfectly and left me with a big dumb smile and tears of joy on my face.
The supporting cast was also pretty damn charming. For the most part they were in the second book (the first book is mostly Ananna and Naji AND IT IS GLORIOUS I LOVED EVERY SECOND). Marjani was great and I was rooting for her romance too. The manticore may have been my favorite addition though. I have to give kudos to Ananna's parents too because 1) they raised one hell of a daughter 2) they weren't there but made a great impression with the few scenes they had.
This book was everything I needed right now. It was fasted paced and character focused. It's an enjoyable ride and I don't know how people survived the wait between book one and two because I was glad this was a bind up when I finished book one let me tell you.
I don't regret failing at life to devour this book and I can not wait to read more book by this author!!
21 reviews
January 4, 2017
This is one of my favorite books of all time. Truly magical and unique.
37 reviews
August 31, 2017
An omnibus of the duology The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish. Ananna of the Tanarau is the only child of a pirate captain, and is supposed to be married off to the son of another pirate captain for an alliance. She, however, says Fuck That Shit, I want to captain my own ship unfettered by a fool of a husband, and runs away. An assassin gets sent after her, things happen, and Ananna and the assassin are bound together by a curse. Adventures, some predictable and some unpredictable, happen; romance, some predictable and some unpredictable, happens. If you want to picture Naji, the assassin, Zuko in the later seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender goes a long way. If you want to hear Ananna’s voice in your head, think Clara Paget’s Anne Bonny in Black Sails, only more angry than sullen. A good solid YA read with satisfying pirate levels.
Profile Image for Cheng Cheng.
289 reviews24 followers
November 27, 2019
Really enjoyed it! It was magical!
But i wish it was a bit longer. Maybe another 100pages to explain the villain...
what I loved the most was the pirate ship battles! Epic!
Profile Image for Femke.
299 reviews8 followers
May 17, 2020
So close to 5 stars but the ending was kinda random and rushed 😭😭
I really enjoyed this duology! It was so refreshing and entertaining and I loved the piraty-sea setting and the main characters 😍😭
Profile Image for Cindy Vallar.
Author 6 books13 followers
May 17, 2017
Don’t get married. Don’t trust beautiful people. Choices have consequences.

Getting married isn’t Ananna of the Tanarau’s idea. Her parents thought this one up. All she wants is to captain her own ship. But the Confederation doesn’t allow female captains. But there’s always a way to circumvent rules, especially when you’re a pirate.

Anyway, the second is her hard and fast rule. Tarrin of the Hariri is beautiful. His family wants to elevate the clan, marriage being one way to do so. (Murder and mutiny are the other two.) Since her family ranks higher, this wedding is a business arrangement between parents. Even worse, his clan is the only one that spends more time on land than on water. Born and raised on the sea, she wants to stay there, not sail in the monstrosities they use to navigate on land.

Which brings her back to the first rule. Her only other option is to run, which she does. Even though it means isolating herself from her family. But why dwell on the past? Besides, she can sell her wedding dress for coins to buy what she needs at the market before hightailing it as far from the Hariri as possible.

But choices do have consequences, and reneging on this alliance turns out to be life-changing. More than miffed at this insult, the Hariri hire an assassin to kill her. Luckily, she comes across a shopkeeper who sells her magic vials guaranteed to thwart the assassin. Only they don’t work when she comes face-to-face with Naji of the Jadorr’a. Turns out the shopkeeper hails from the Mists, an Otherworld member who’s been chasing after the assassin for years.

Just as Naji is about to deliver the killing blow, Ananna slays a snake that was about to kill him. Darn! Now instead of executing her, he must protect her. Honor demands it. Ananna only saved him because she HATES snakes. She goes along with his protection, but at the first opportunity she’ll escape. Even though with his scarred face and many tattoos, he is intriguing.

To shield her from danger when he’s not with her, Naji uses blood magic to create a charm she can wear around her neck. It will protect her from the Mists, who will entice her to betray him with empty promises, and anyone else the Hariri hire to kill her. But the moment Ananna tries to run away, she discovers the whole truth about the consequence of saving Naji’s life. Any danger she faces and any distance she travels from him cause him agonizing pain . . . pain that could kill him.

Their lives intertwined by magic, they set off across the desert together only to run into a hornet’s nest of monstrous land ships and Tarrin. He gives her one last chance to marry him, but she refuses. So the two fight, with the rest of the Hariri ships and Naji soon joining in. Another choice with haunting consequences: Ananna wins, but Naji is severely wounded. He knows a river witch who can help heal him, and together they begin the arduous journey to reach the witch in time.

She’s beautiful, so Ananna doesn’t trust her and is even a bit jealous of her, since Naji seems moonstruck over the witch. But Ananna learns one important piece of information that complicates their situation – Naji is cursed. And it’s an impossible curse, which means it can’t be removed. The only one who may be able to help is Wizard Eirnin, who lives on the Isles of the Sky – a cold, often sunless, and magical place fraught with danger. Getting there will be a problem, because no sane sailor would dare set foot there. Then there’s the question as to whether the wizard will deign to help them if they can find him. Even if there is a cure, it’s probably just as impossible as the curse itself.

Comprised of two stories – The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish – Magic of Blood and Sea combines magic, romance, and nautical adventure in such a way that you never want Ananna’s and Naji’s story to end. Clarke spins a captivating tale of trust, love, friendship, and sacrifice. Her characters seem more than just figments of imagination, and Ananna springs from the pages almost from the first sentence to whisk you away with her. Once Naji joins her, they transport you to their world and yours is forgotten. Together they show that life and love can blossom from the impossible.
Profile Image for Madeline O'Rourke.
842 reviews102 followers
September 29, 2021
The Assassin's Curse: 3 stars
The Pirates Wish: 3 stars

I'm always bound to like a story about pirates, and certainly, I enjoyed Magic of Blood and Sea, albeit the duology isn't too memorable or remarkable.

In The Assassin's Curse particularly, I found the pacing bizarre. Very quickly, some sort of bond is established between the two main characters, but the reader doesn't get nearly enough insight to understand why that is. We just get more of a montage of days blurred together spliced with the occasional crisis. It lacks the small interactions that transform people from strangers to friends, and ultimately made me, as the reader, feel like I was being held at a distance from the story. Come the second novel, though, I was very on board for all sorts of romantic feelings—it just takes time and actually seeing the characters interact.

I will note that I don't remember reading a story like this before. The particular magic system, the combination of desert and sea, it's certainly a world that feels very unique to this series. The plot itself carried things along, but I wasn't super invested in the outcomes. It felt like more of a vehicle for me to enjoy pirates and a little romance. Not a bad thing, it was certainly pleasant, but like I said, not super memorable.
Profile Image for Adeline.
273 reviews6 followers
April 13, 2017
The Assassin's Curse: 5 stars
The Pirate's Wish: 5 stars

I wanted to read those books for so long now, I'm so happy I finally got a copy because it was honestly amazing. Full review to come, when I know what to say, but for now just know that it was so good, one of the best duology I've ever read! And that romance... I'm still one the floor.
8 reviews
May 17, 2017
an entitled pirate princess and a magic assassin with self esteem issues. the secondary characters were more interesting than the protagonists. ignoring the cliches, a fun light read
Profile Image for Zoe.
270 reviews2 followers
October 2, 2019
September 11-17, 2019
Since the book is a two in one I read the first one sept 11-15 and the second 15-17.

Carried it around since September 6th but didn’t get into it until a week later. Found the beginning somewhat slow-going.

The book was a lot of one-upping the other individuals desperate need for the first. I'm hurt X, save me over and over.

October 2nd review
p.53 Assassin and a lady at a Inn- though she didn't look like a lady with blood on her arms.
p.174 Up north, the sky the colour of a swords blade
p. 215 I got my sword when I took my vows. What kind of vows, celibacy - no one keeps those anyway
p. 232 Wizard Eirnin how to cure the curse.
1) Find the Princess' starstones and hold them skin against stone
2) Create life out of an act of violence
3) True love's kiss
p. 259 Manticore The Manticore
p. 268 Everything about her sounded like a musical instrument, even her name Ongraygeeomryn
p. 278 Kissing Naji
p. 307 Esjar the deckhand kissing Annanna
p. 338 Used to dress up as a man to visit someone I loved. Marjani's story.
p. 363 Walking with Naji around the gardens putting healing herbs underneath her pillow.
p.375 Kissing Naji (why don't you ever smile, you don't want to see me smile)
p. 390 Marjani Anaja-tu. A noble's name.
p. 428 The Nadir ship, The Ayel's Revenge, The Goldlife.
p. 433 Her parents are the rotten scums who had stolen the Starstones, saw that coming (not enough left of the book for another adventure)
p. 453 Naji's fellow assassins complaining about how long taking him to cure curse. Kissing Ana.
p.491 Echo is just a small dark magician of the mist, I am more.

Good book, checked out the excerpt from the next book, I'll consider reading it. I just hope there's more character development and not just chasing for the sake of moving a story along. Also her realization of being in love with Naji was somewhat forced when it was discovered that 'of course' true loves kiss was going to be necessary to break the curse.
Liked the background characters (Marjani and the manticore especially, even Jeric Y Niru was fine)

Not a bad book however and a fun read.

The Bear and the Nightingale
The Hazel Wood
Olivia Twist
To Kill a Kingdom
Save the Date
Ever the Hunted
The Fortune Teller
The Empress
Heart of Iron
The Reluctant Queen
The Night Gardener
Stealing Snow
The Price Guide to the Occult
Space Opera - DNF :(
The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite
Ink and Bone
The Sisters of the Winter Wood
The Star-Touched Queen
Courting Darkness - DNF :(
The Hidden Power of F*cking Up
Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Magic of Blood and Sea
The Second Mountain
3 reviews
June 20, 2022
This is... strange. I hesitated between 1 and 2 stars.
I'm not sure how to format my review. So here goes;

Naji's a pretty good character. I found him to be kind and to always look out for Ananna. However it's strange that the story comes back so much on his scar and insecurity. You'd think a trained and legendary assassin wouldn't be so obvious about his insecurity. It felt like the story went in circles on that, without any kind of development.
Talking about story going in circles, the Isles of the Sky part was awfully long. I felt like I was hallucinating the amount of times Ananna decides to go for a walk despite Naji asking her not to, her getting into some kind of trouble and Naji telling her she can't do that anymore. I mean, there's like three times she does that with Echo, one with the manticore and one with the ghost of the wizard.
AND talking about Ananna, I have never, ever read a story with such an unlikeable main character. At first it makes a bit of sense that she's rough as she IS a pirate. It was nice to read about a female main character who is written a bit differently and doesnt instantly fall under the charm of the love interest. At first, she's got reason to be irritable at him. However, as they spend time together and as readers expect some development, she becomes even more insufferable! The turning point for me was the sky islands. Not only does she completely ignore anything Naji asks of her, she's rude, ungrateful and kisses him in his sleep completely without asking him. AND she's got the audacity to be angry at him when he doesn't reciprocate. I get embarrassment and being a bit angry at herself (not that kissing someone in their sleep would be acceptable either case), but she doesnt apologize at all. She never does! It's like the author thinks she's in the right! And when Naji's kinda manipulated into seducing her it's written like Naji's the bad guy! He's described as "cruel"! What did he even DO? Not be in love with her? .
Ananna is unbelievably mean and cruel. She's incredibly entitled and bratty. The author keeps using the words "snarling" and such when referring to her. Naji falling for her is stupidly unrealistic (yes yes even in fantasy) since she's pretty much never been kind to him. The only times I can think of is when she accidentally references his scar or something.
I really thought she'd have great and visible development. But she doesn't change at all, and it's not even hinted at that she needs to be. Jeez.
Naji's such a great character and I just don't understand what he's doing next to someone like her.

And the last trial. What the hell? It comes out of nowhere and doesn't make sense. Why was it added? WHY was that a task? It was the most interesting task out of the three (not to mention how out of place the kiss being the first task completed is) as it left room for the most interpretation and I was really looking forward to how they'd figure it out. But no. It wasn't even on purpose. The author may as well have chosen another task.

Overall, the story keeps repeating itself (Ananna not listening to Naji, Naji asking her to listen to him, Naji being insecure, manticore wanting to eat Naji. That's pretty much the whole story).

The reason I'm not giving it 1 star is because there were moments where the narrative was really good. For example, Marjany (misspelling is completely unintentional. I don't have the book to double check it with me, apologies) is a great character, although there's really no reason for her to be so nice to Ananna (other than female solidarity). She's fierce and while mushy I loved her story with the Queen. Or how Naji doesn't instantly kill Ananna not because he's under her charm, but because he doesn't believe that assassins should be used for. Moments like these were very nice and surprising to read about.

Oh well.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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