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The Chronicles of Ghadid #1

The Perfect Assassin

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A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own in K. A. Doore's The Perfect Assassin, a breakout high fantasy beginning the Chronicles of Ghadid series.

Divine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.

350 pages, Paperback

First published March 19, 2019

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About the author

K.A. Doore

5 books162 followers
K.A. Doore grew up in Florida, but has since lived in lush Washington, arid Arizona, and cherry-infused-everything Michigan. While recovering from climate whiplash, she has raised chickens, learned entirely too much about property assessment, photographed cacti, and now develops online trainings, none of which has anything to do with – or perhaps has everything to do with – her BA in Classics.

She writes fantasy – mostly second world, mostly novels – with a touch of horror and a ton of adventure.

The first book in the Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy - an adventure fantasy about queer assassins who save the day - will be published by Tor in March, 2019.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 326 reviews
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews192 followers
January 21, 2020
The Perfect Assassin is the first book in the high fantasy series Chronicles of Ghadid, which follows a family of assassins in a desert city. I found it a solid, imaginative and very gay debut - but don't go into it expecting a romance.
This first book follows Amastan, an unusually reluctant assassin, as he has to find and kill a mysterious murderer on the run and survive the attacks of angered jaani.

The first thing that stood out to me about this book was the worldbuilding: Ghadid has now become one of my favorite fantasy cities and it's been a while since I read a book whose world I loved so much.

Let's talk about Ghadid: it's a city in the desert, and of course I love atmospheric desert fantasy, but it's also a city built in the sky where people run and fight on rooftops. It's built over pylons, which would have made it one of the most interesting settings ever even if the characters hadn't risked to get attacked by angry undeads spirits every day. Another thing I loved was the way the magic system was tied to the setting and to the economy. I always appreciate when that happens - the last time I saw it was in Jade City, I think - because it makes the world feel more real. In Ghadid, water is magic, water is wealth, water is money - which makes sense in a place where dying of thirst is not so uncommon after all.

I have read many fantasy books that followed groups of assassins, gangs, and guilds, but I had never read anything about a family whose role was to kill dangerous people - like spies or water-wasters - in a way that didn't further damage the city. The Perfect Assassin talks about assassins and morality, because at its heart, this book is about whether killing can ever be just. It doesn't give you an answer, it gives you the elements to draw your own conclusions, which I really appreciated.
What it said about "what makes a perfect assassin" was also really interesting to read, especially for the way it was tied to the main character's development.

I could describe this book as a fantasy mystery, because that's what it was about, but as the mystery aspect was somewhat disappointing and really predictable - I found the foreshadowing to be clumsy and very heavy-handed at times - I'm not sure I would recommend it for that. I'd rather say that it's perfect for those who want something with the atmosphere of S.A. Chakraborty's City of Brass and Tasha Suri's Empire of Sand but with tighter pacing and far more queer characters. The main character likes men, is implied to be asexual, and also read as demiromantic to me (but I'm not sure that's canon), there is a prominent female side character who is in a relationship with a woman, and multiple other queer side characters.
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
375 reviews3,085 followers
May 15, 2020
I’m so sad I didn’t love this but everything from the world and characters felt very base level. There wasn’t a whole lot of depth to anything.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews886 followers
March 7, 2019
I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A decent debut, The Perfect Assassin impressed me most with its fascinating worldbuilding.

It is refreshing to see more and more fantasy releases of late not relying on the more traditional Europe-centric medieval setting for its worldbuilding. In The Perfect Assassin, the setting was decidedly Middle Eastern with an interesting twist. Ghadid was a city built hundreds of feet above sand dunes, made up of numerous connected platforms balanced on top of pylons. As the spirits of the deceased roam the sand dunes seeking for new bodies, such construction of the city was meant as a form of protection. The possession of such spirits can render a person mad, and sometimes even kill. My favourite element in the worldbuilding was the currency of water, which fit well into the desert scenario. The commodity was not only precious for sustaining life, it also powered miraculous healing and the magic needed to control the deadly spirits. As such, the deliberate act of wasting water can bring about a death sentence.

The story was primarily centred around a murder mystery. One which was tasked to a freshly ‘graduated’ assassin to solve. Amastan was not your usual assassin. While he was delighted to pass his final test, he was also relieved that learn that there was a ban on assassin contracts because he wasn’t certain that he can kill. A senior official, termed as a drum chief, was found dead when contracts were supposed to be non-existent. And Amastan had to find out who did it, or his entire family of assassins would take the fall for the murder.

I love mysteries in my stories. It can overshadow the assassin aspect and I’d still be fine with it, so long as I also cared about the characters. This was where the book fell short for me. The writing was easy to read. The setting was atmospheric. Some of the action scenes were exciting. However, I was just not fully invested in Amastan, the main protagonist. I wouldn’t call the character development disengaging as we do get to be in Amastan’s head pretty much all the time. Somehow or rather, the character development didn’t resonate with me all that much. For those who are looking for diversity and inclusiveness in their reads, you would get LGBT representation in this book. And for the record please, the gay romance had absolutely no bearing on how I felt about the characterisation.

The handling of the plot and pacing also felt a bit clumsy at times. Fortunately, it did not extend to the ending which I found satisfactory. The title of the book can be deceiving as well, as it did not in any way allude to a story about a superlative assassin with loads of badass action. It did, nonetheless, make sense right at the end.

The Perfect Assassin will be released on 19th Mar 2019.

You can pre-order this book from: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide)

You can also find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Silvia .
642 reviews1,427 followers
May 5, 2019
A perfect 4.5 stars aaaaaaah I'm rounding up because I never not enjoyed it

Also my pre-review ↓ was 100% correct

I don't know but it sounds like "be gay, undo crime" would be one way to describe this book

Profile Image for Terence.
1,116 reviews352 followers
February 2, 2019
Amastan has trained to be an assassin. After completing his final test, he learns there are no contracts and he feels relieved. His relief is short lived when he discovers the body of one of Ghadid's leaders, a drum chief. Amastan finds himself ordered to solve the murder of the drum chief soon or he and his assassin family will pay the consequences. On top of all that the spirit of the deceased is roaming free seeking a new body.

The Perfect Assassin is a murder mystery with slightly different surroundings. Rather than a straight forward detective, a novice assassin is tasked to find out who done it. The book also features very active souls called jaani's that must be quieted or else they will go wild driving people mad and possibly even worse.

I personally was expecting much more assassin action and much less detective investigation. That would have been fine if the investigation aspects were better. The hard part of the investigation for me is the world wasn't developed enough to make it clear who the killer could be. Amastan is chasing a nameless faceless individual with little more than the standard family, employees, and enemies as suspects. Even that doesn't really get developed and there was only one flimsily attached potential suspect. After not introducing strong suspects the book practically tells you who the killer is in an unsatisfying way.

All that being said I did come to like Amastan. He's methodical and careful. Probably too careful. He wants to help everyone and doesn't seem much like an assassin throughout.

The Perfect Assassin was a decent mystery even though the mystery was underdeveloped.

3 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Megan Lyons.
516 reviews10 followers
December 5, 2018
3 1/2 stars

This was a very solid fantasy. I tend to really like books with assassin's and thieves as the main characters, and this was done well. The world building and plotting were strong, though I felt like the central mystery was a bit too obvious.

Honestly, I feel like I should have liked the book more. I think it lacked a little in terms of characters. They weren't as memorable as I would have liked, which caused the book to drag a little in the beginning. However, the ending was strong, so it ended on a high note, and I curious to see where the series go. It did have a bit of a urban fantasy feel to it with the plot centering around a central mystery. All in all, I think it could do quite well with fantasy fans looking for a new series.

*I received an advance reader copy of this novel from Indigo Books and Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,096 reviews406 followers
March 19, 2019
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

Now obviously the title and cover are what grabbed me attention for this one.  I love me some assassins so I had to read this author's debut novel.  This story follows Amastan who is training to be an assassin.  However, he is unsure if he will be able to kill when the time comes.  Life becomes difficult when he stumbles across the body of a clan leader that has been murdered.  Then other assassins start being murdered.  The uneasy spirits of the dead begin to gather in the city and are intent on harm.  Amastan has to find the murderer before the fabric holding the city together breaks.

I thought overall that this was a solid book.  It did feel like a YA title even though it doesn't seem to be marketed as such.  I felt that the world building was the best part of the book.  The city is set on a platform above a desert and water is scarce.  I enjoyed the currency set around water.  I enjoyed that women hold high positions in society.  I liked the LGBTQ relationships.  I thought the set-up of the murders was rather nice and intriguing.  I also liked the jaani who are malevolent spirits of the dead.

In the end however, I did not like many of the plot points.  Most of this stems from the identity of the killer which I saw from far away while hoping that I was wrong.  I wasn't.  So very sad and rather cliche.  The murder mystery plot ended up being shoddy in terms of how it was solved.  I also wished that the jaani played a more awesome role.  How that problem was wrapped up was also lackluster.

I am glad I finished the book and I did enjoy it.  Apparently there is a second book in the series even though this book reads as a standalone.  The next book may be from a different point of view.  I am not sure if the world building is strong enough for me to want to read it.  That said, I am interested in the author's future work based on the solid foundation of this tale.  Arrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
Profile Image for Holly (The GrimDragon).
1,048 reviews235 followers
June 17, 2020
“At the time, becoming an assassin had seemed both exciting and intangible. He’d wanted to learn everything. He knew all there was to know about how to fire glass, but how to fight, how to climb, how to hide, how to conceal, how to poison–he knew nothing. When he’d learned how to kill, he’d been fascinated. A person could die in so many ways. Life was surprisingly fragile.”

The Perfect Assassin is the first installment in The Chronicles of Ghadid series by K.A. Doore.

As someone who doesn’t read many reviews, certainly not before actually reading the book, I went into this based on the fact that it was about queer assassins. Unsurprisingly, that was all I needed. SIGN ME THE FUCK UP!!

Ghadid is a city that is mostly isolated in the Sahara desert, set hundreds of feet above the sand on connected pylons. In the desert, everything revolves around water. It’s the source of.. well.. life. In Ghadid, water is drawn from old technology, which consists of a vast underground system of aquifers. With water becoming increasingly scarce, it has become a currency. Like most currency, one may live and die by it.

And someone does.

Having banned assassinations in the last decade, Ghadid has become a peaceful, quiet city. That is, until a Drum Chief turns up dead.

Amastan has spent years training to join his family in the art of assassination. Finally, when he turns 19, he is accepted into the elusive group. Unsure if he will ever be able to take someone’s life, Amastan is more than a little thrilled when he learns that contracts have been banned. He would much rather continue his apprenticeship as a historian of Ghadid. The murdered body he discovers changes those plans quickly, however.

The killer is hiding the bodies so that the proper ritual to lay their spirits, or jaani, to rest cannot be observed. Given the task of finding the person responsible, Amastan must solve the mystery or his family of assassins will never work in Ghadid again.

“Breathing heavily, he settled the point of the sword at the base of her throat. Despite the exertion, the sword did not waver.”


The Perfect Assassin was a mixed bag, overall.

Taking place somewhere other than the generic European-style pseudo-Medieval setting, The Perfect Assassin is a welcome change. Richly visualized, the setting was by far my favorite part! Not only because of the brutal environment, but the fact that sexuality is just.. there. It just *is*. There isn’t any prejudice, no pressure to reproduce, non-heterosexual relationships are just as valid (RIGHTFULLY SO) and there isn’t a big deal made out of that fact. There is a wide range of characters in The Perfect Assassin that are delightfully diverse. Amastan, our protagonist, is a homo-romantic asexual. Other characters run the gamut of representation in an equally authentic (HUMAN) way.


Unfortunately, it isn’t without issue. There are quite a few glaring plot holes, the pacing was inconsistent and the worldbuilding felt quite flat. I just wanted MORE. More details about the magic system and the religion and Ghadid itself.

Even if I didn’t already own the sequel, I would still be interested in continuing on with the series. I’m just not in a rush to do so immediately.
Profile Image for lady h.
639 reviews179 followers
March 26, 2019
I'm struggling to decide how to rate and review this. I decidedly did not enjoy it, yet I'm not sure that makes it a bad book.

I found this book incredibly boring. Now, that's hard to do, when your premise is a fantasy murder mystery with assassins. But it was. So, so boring. For one thing, the book is marketed as being about assassins, but you find out within the first chapter that these assassins 1) operate within the boundaries of the legal system and 2) are no longer allowed to kill anyone, as per this legal system. So...no assassinating. I don't think I liked this particular representation of assassins, though that's just my personal taste.

But anyway - yes, folks start dying, and Amastan has to figure it out. It all felt a little bit contrived from the get-go. And then things just plod along at a snail's pace. So much of the plot felt repetitive and so much was formulaic and predictable. It was like I could see this book's behind-the-scenes outline, because I knew exactly everything that was going to happen. I mean, how can you have a decent murder mystery when there's really only one suspect? It was so incredibly obvious what was going to happen, and it was just...so cliche. And so many scenes felt shoehorned, inserted only as filler.

I wasn't as invested in Amastan as I wanted to be. I liked the idea of his character, but for some reason I just never connected with him. I didn't care about any of the side characters, who were barely fleshed out. The book tried to have some interesting conversations about whether killing can ever be just or justified, but I just...didn't care. It wasn't as hard-hitting as it thought it was. There was just something keeping me at arm's length the entire time.

So, why am I hesitating with this rating? Because I really enjoyed the worldbuilding. It was clever and original. Ghadid is a city built on pylons above the sand dunes to keep safe from wild jaani, spirits that can possess you and make you go mad. This was easily the best and creepiest part of the book; I loved this idea. Also, the worldbuilding is heavily tied with the economy; water is scarce and is therefore tied in with the currency. Little things about the world were interesting too. For example, people cover their faces in public. The world is casually gender neutral and queer. I wanted to know a little more about where Ghadid sat within the apparent "Empire" that came out of left field halfway through the book, but overall I do think the worldbuilding was pretty fantastic. Unfortunately that's all I liked about this book.

I feel kind of guilty giving this such a low rating because I truly don't think it was a terrible book by any means, but I was just...so bored. And it was so predictable. Basically, this is a great world to set a story in, but I very much wish it had been a different story than the one we got.
Profile Image for Dan.
Author 15 books101 followers
July 27, 2018
This book is so much fun!

K.A. Doore writes the way an assassin creeps up on a mark. Her prose glides effortlessly, leading readers along with clues and misdirection that's never heavy-handed.

But I think the most impressive feat was the balancing act Doore strikes throughout.
This is a story about assassins, and it definitely delivers on the fight scenes, but it also doesn't revel in violence. A murder mystery drives the plot forward, while the rich secondary world setting will delight fantasy readers. It's a tale of paranoia and betrayal with just the right dash of romance to keep hope alive.

The Perfect Assassin is a fantastic book, and I can't wait to return to Ghadid in the sequel!
Profile Image for Kyle.
377 reviews556 followers
March 26, 2019
I enjoyed it for the most part.

It’s hard to put into words why this type of story speaks to me; I guess I’m just a sucker for fantasy, conflicted assassins, mystery, and angst. I also can’t neglect to mention the good amount of representation presented in this book: an Asexual main character, a gay character, two lesbian assassins... and all POC. Speaking on the characters, however, a majority were fairly two-dimensional. Amastan and Tamella were nearly there in being fully fleshed-out, but they lacked depth. Yufit was close, as was Menna, but we’re only given superficial looks into who they really are. These thin characterizations also reflect the world-building, which was incoherent at times, and often lacking. And for a book billed as Adult, with most of the characters in their late teens/early 20s, this book definitely read more like YA.

One of my main complaints is with the “twist”, which was so glaringly predictable that it almost ruined the whole reading experience. I thought that maybe the reason why the twist was so obvious was because it was all a big red herring— that the author was getting ready to pull the rug out from under me. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Really, I’m only here for the angst, and this story satiated my need for it. I will most-likely be reading the sequel, but the fact that it’s focusing on an entirely different side character/story, I’m not sure I’m ready yet to forget Amastan/Yufit.
Profile Image for rin.
411 reviews483 followers
November 29, 2019
i long for the day where i have a longer attention span than a goldfish but my hyperfixations wouldn't let me

anyway that's the first book I've finished since june and it only took me like. 4 months to read. utterly tragic

the book is good tho
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
580 reviews219 followers
February 13, 2019
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

From the blurb, "A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own..." this pretty much sums it up nicely. I was pleased with this debut effort from K.A. Doore, who may very well be an author to keep an eye on.

Great worldbuilding and lots of action highlight this one, and though some of the twists and turns aren't totally surprising, the novel was very well written and engaging all the way through.

I understand that this will be a series, but this book would work as a standalone for those leery of starting yet another open series. It left me plenty satisfied, yet interested in more if and when it comes to light.

3 1/2 stars, rounded up.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,722 reviews260 followers
March 19, 2019
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Perfect Assassin (The Chronicles of Ghadid #1) by K.A. Doore is an epic fantasy novel featuring a reluctant assassin from a family of assassins. I didn't know how much I needed to read about assassins who kill the dangerous and those who endanger their city. Doore is fantastic at world-building and the character arcs are pretty cool to follow over the course of the story - the city of Ghadid itself is practically a character in its own right. Amastan's just the best, by the way. One of my favorite elements was how closely morality and being a great assassin are tied together, especially since that doesn't come up all that often in such a poignant manner in many of the assassin books that I have read. I also appreciated that the magic system along with the economy are all about water in a desert where dying a thirst is always a possibility. This debut novel was very nearly earned five stars from me. The only thing that really held me back was that it didn't pull me in quite as soon as I would have hoped. Plus, I really wish there was a map of the city, but maybe there will be in the finished copy. Overall, this is a great debut and a solid fantasy series opener. I can't wait to read the sequel, The Impossible Contract - I don't know how I'm going to wait until November!
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,727 reviews865 followers
January 25, 2021
#2) The Impossible Contract ★★★☆☆

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: full poc cast; Amastan (mc) gay & asexual; Yuift (li) achillean; Menna (sc) lesbian; queer scs.

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Profile Image for Nathan Makaryk.
Author 3 books111 followers
August 24, 2018
Really unique fantasy world, and a far departure from the usual “slight-variation-of-medieval-England” so common in fantasy. I tore through my advance copy in mere days. I loved the supernatural element in this world, and how it gave profound and terrifying consequences to the main characters’ actions. Fast-paced, fun to read, check it out!
Profile Image for Sam Hawke.
Author 3 books393 followers
May 5, 2019
Fuller thoughts to come but I LOVED this book, with its DEADLY BUT ALSO SOFT SQUISHY ASSASSINS and the worldbuilding and the mystery, it was just a bloody delight. Go buy it.
Profile Image for Andrea Rothman.
Author 1 book75 followers
November 30, 2018
I received an advanced reader copy of this book, coming out March 19. This is the first book in a series about Ghadid, a desert city built on platforms, that is terrifying as much as it is magical. I was absorbed by the story of Amastan, a young novice assassin who has reservations about killing but who ultimately has chosen this way of life for himself. He is extremely modest, courageous, and utterly compelling as a character. His personal life, which is masterfully weaved in the action, kept me turning the pages. The story is thrilling, and the narrative so crisp it feels like poetry at times. This is fantasy at its finest. There's a sequel coming out November 2019 and I can't wait to see how the story unfolds and what happens next.
Profile Image for Sarah.
832 reviews231 followers
March 23, 2019
Like the sound of queer fantasy assassins? Then The Perfect Assassin is the book for you.

Amastan’s family has an important place in the city of Ghadid. They protect it from the shadows, assassinating criminals who need to be taken care of quietly. Amastan has just earned his place as the newest assassin in the family, but he’s secretly worried that he doesn’t have what it takes to kill. So when he finds out that the family’s been blackballed by Ghadid’s rulers and that no new contracts are on the horizon, he’s relieved. Only, he soon gets an assignment after all — a drum chief, one of the rulers of the city, has been murdered, and his jaan (AKA his murderous ghost) has been running rampant through the city. Either Amastan finds the true killer, or his family gets the blame.

I loved the world building in The Perfect Assassin. Ghadid is a desert city and their society is built around the needs of their environment, mainly the importance of water. They are elevated above the desert floor and the murderous jaan that roam it, but with the dry season lingering and water supplies growing low, the city still has plenty of problems. The platforms the city is built on are the remnants of a long-ago civilization. While this is a fairly common convention in fantasy, used well it gives the world a sense of history and mystery… and it’s used well here.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, The Perfect Assassin is delightfully queer. Amastan is asexual and has a male love interest. They’re far from the only queer people in the book, and the world building lacks any notable homophobia. There are same-sex marriages and no hint that they’re anything other than completely normal, which is a refreshing change.

I was never super invested in Amastan’s romantic subplot, but that’s okay because I still cared about Amastan himself and the city of Ghadid. Also, if you’re a regular reader of my reviews, you’ll know it takes a lot to get me interested in romantic subplots. Amastan is an interesting protagonist, and I enjoyed how he and the narrative grappled with the morality of assassination in a way I haven’t seen from other fantasy assassin stories. Also, I appreciate the presence of numerous, well-written women in supporting roles. This is a fantasy novel with a male protagonist, but it isn’t a novel dominated by men.

In terms of criticism, I found the beginning of the novel a bit slow, but it did pick up speed eventually. I also figured out the culprit before Amastan… but I think I was supposed to. Sometimes the tension of knowing something the protagonist doesn’t is more interesting than the tension of an unsolved mystery.

The Perfect Assassin is the first in a series, but the plot stands on its own. Overall, it’s a strong debut novel, and I plan to read the sequel!

I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest reveiw.

Review from The Illustrated Page.t
Profile Image for Ellen.
1 review
July 17, 2018
K.A. Doore's debut novel is spectacular. I was fortunate enough to receive one of the ARCs and WOW. First and foremost, the world is tangible. I tasted sand in my teeth, I felt the blessed moisture in Ghadid's pumphouses, I smelled the threat of jaan. I am so thrilled to (not soon enough) read two more novels set in this beautiful, brilliantly constructed city atop the sand. Not only is the world well-constructed, but it also unfolds expertly. K.A. Doore does an incredible job of introducing the city and its particulars around the plot and characters without overwhelming the reader with an information dump. Speaking of plot and characters, both of these aspects of the novel are also wonderfully crafted. The plot should appeal to anyone who likes a good whodunnit: Amastan must hunt the killer of one of Ghadid's drum chiefs and he must do it fast. In the process, there are plenty of thrilling twists and turns that have left me both emotionally satisfied and spent (I just finished reading 30 minutes ago). And don't let the cover fool you: the book is not all composed of dramatic knife fights (though there are plenty, and they are written clearly and well - exciting for me as I can have trouble following the flow of fight scenes in books). Many of the most heart-pounding moments occur when nobody is fighting at all. Amastan is both an assassin and a scribe/historian, and he has to use both of these skill sets to try to find the killer. And that brings me around to characters: K.A. Doore does an excellent job shaping each one of her characters into a living being. Even the ones I didn't see quite as much of had life and dimension and depth. I would recommend this book to literally anyone, but if you are a fan of fantasy, mystery, assassins, a dash of romance, and/or powerful family loyalty, there's absolutely no excuse to not pick up this book.
Profile Image for Amber.
1,029 reviews
March 24, 2019
I received a complimentary copy of this e-book ARC from the author, publisher, and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Amastan is training to be an assassin like the rest of his family. When he discovers a murder, it is up to him to find out who did it. Can he do so and clear his name before he is accused of being the killer? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good action-packed fantasy read. It was full of intrigue and more. If you love stories like this, be sure to check this book out wherever books are sold now.
Profile Image for Emma.
1,251 reviews104 followers
June 30, 2021
The Perfect Assassin is a fantasy mystery set in the desert city of Ghadid, where access to water is the city's major currency. The story took a while to gather some momentum but once the mystery got going, I found myself relatively hooked. I just finished The Perfect Assassin wanting more character development and world-building.

Profile Image for Kim.
3 reviews12 followers
January 4, 2021
5 Stars

The blurbs don’t lie. Those rooftop scenes are exquisite.

Amastan is a scribe by day, assassin by night. Or he would be if contracts weren’t banned. Instead of hunting marks and eliminating Ghadid’s problems, Amastan practices with fellow assassins on Ghadid's many rooftops. And one such night leads to the discovery of a Drum Chief’s body. Amastan takes on the task of discovering who killed the Drum Chief. But soon there are two more bodies and wild jaan running loose with a taste for revenge. With the end of season drawing near, Amastan is running out of time. And if he can’t find the murderer, and quiet the jaan, then more people could die. And he’s too determined to let that happen.


I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. I nearly died when I received an early copy.

The world of Ghadid is so incredibly detailed that I truly felt transported there. K.A. Doore clearly has a firm grasp of her world and all its potential and possibilities. The city of Ghadid towers high above the sands and has a unique setup of wires and carriages to reach the ground, and Doore makes sure you know how it works. Which I enjoyed because I had some confusion about this city in the sky. So often in fantasy works, I feel like I am left to fill in the blanks of how things work, but Doore’s writing is clear and left me with very few questions about how this world, and this city, functioned. The different aspects of desert living like the heat and water usage are well worked into the plot, and I think that was part of what made this world feel so concrete. I left with a good understanding of how jaan work, which makes me very excited to read on. I can only assume they’ll continue to play an intriguing part in future books and I can’t wait to see what more trouble they can cause.

I loved every character. Their individual personalities and their complex relationships were so good. I adore Amastan of course, but my second favorite is probably Menna. Her added experience keeps the jaan from becoming confusing while her general existence keeps some good bits of humor in what could easily become a dark plot. I’d say more but I wouldn’t want to ruin someone’s joy of discovering the other characters on their own. I loved them, I worried for them.

(Though, I will say I’m a sucker for cranky older mentor-ish characters and this book’s got one and he’s awesome)

The plot keeps you on your toes, always waiting for a jaani to pop out or the murderer to suddenly attack from a rooftop or the shadows. And it was fun to go along with Amastan as he tried to put together the pieces of this puzzle. I couldn't tear my eyes away from tense or actiony scenes and every time I had to put it down I couldn't wait to return to it.

If I had deducted stars, then I would tell you why here. But I was truly impressed by this book. It quickly became one of my favorite books, and it’s definitely going to remain one of my favorites. I can’t wait to see what book 2 has in store.
Profile Image for Anya.
763 reviews168 followers
June 3, 2017
Beta read this and it is AMAZING!!!!!!
Profile Image for Freya Marske.
Author 15 books1,857 followers
May 14, 2019
Fantastic worldbuilding, a murder mystery, some impeccably exciting action sequences, and a sprinkling of fraught queer romance! Exactly my kind of genre-soup.
Profile Image for Anna Stephens.
Author 32 books641 followers
June 2, 2020
A brilliantly inventive world and an absorbing cast of characters make this a debut that packs a punch. Though I'm not entirely sure I've forgiven the author yet...
Ghadid is a city above the endless sands of the desert, connected by a series of pumps to an aquifer filled once per year by the annual storms. This makes for a VERY intriguing society and barter/magic/economical system whereby those who plan poorly run out of tokens to access water before the end of season and, basically, die. To complicate matters further, water is essential to the magic of healing - and those who can't pay don't get treated.
Add in to this a series of gruesome murders and a sweet, reluctant assassin who'd rather be a historian and who dips his toe into the waters of romance for the first time, and you've got a hugely engaging novel part thriller, part murder-mystery, and all fantasy. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Aleksandra.
1,459 reviews
September 29, 2020
This was a solid adult fantasy novel, featuring ace protagonist, set in a desert fantasy type of world. The book is a murder mystery story.
Amin El Gamal has done a great job narrating this audiobook.
I’m rating it three stars because the book was fine but it didn’t gripped me. However I do think I’ll be listening to book2 in the series because it’s narrated by my favorite narrator Suehyla El-Attar.
Profile Image for Ash | Wild Heart Reads.
245 reviews141 followers
March 11, 2019
High above the sands, the people of Ghadid are desperately waiting for the end of the season, but they will find that it's not just running out of water that might kill them. Wild jaan are on the loose, a killer is stalking the streets and long buried secrets are being unearthed.

"Courage, after all, isn't an absence of fear-it's doing something despite the fear. I'll know you'll find that courage when you need it."

The Perfect Assassin is what I can only call a cute assassin story. Don't get me wrongs there's murders and assassins but it was such a soft, cathartic read. I think this comes down to the marshmallow that is Amastan. Amastan is an ace and homo-romantic assassin who has just completed his training but he's not so sure he's cut out to be an assassin, after all most don't complete their training and feel relief that there have be no contracts for years and they might never have to take one. I loved following Amastan so much and I love him. The relationship between Amastan and Yufit was just so tender and it was a joy watching it unfold.

What I love about The Perfect Assassin is how it tackles the concept of assassins and murder. With Amastan at the front this isn't a book that ignores the consequences of assassinating someone nor is it taken lightly, the Family don't just run around murdering people willy-nilly. As Amastan says, they walk a very fine line between justice and murder.

Everything builds to a crescendo and as the story unfolds and the secrets come to light it gets intense. Even once the killer is revealed The Perfect Assassin still grips you until the very last word. I didn't see that ending coming and even though it was bittersweet I couldn't see it ending any other way. Which I think says something about Doore's writing because I tend to prefer ending where everything wraps up nicely and the slate is wiped clean and everyone's happy. Yet this was perfect because it didn't do that, it was the only way to end it given how Doore doesn't let any of her characters get off scot-free from the consequences of their actions.

"When you asked for tea instead of baats-was that a need or a want?" Amastan's whole face grew hot. He fought the urge to tug his tagel up over his eyes and hide.

I'm hoping the finished copy has some sort of map of Ghadid. Whilst it's set entirely in Ghadid or on the sands next to it, a map of the city and it's sections would have helped orientate myself a bit.

I highly recommend The Perfect Assassin. It's a beautifully crafted story with an amazing setting and wonderful characters. Even as the pace ramps up Amastan is like a soft hug where the world is a more beautiful place with him in it.

*I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*

This review and more can be found at https://wildheartreads.wordpress.com/
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