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Relic #1

Company Assassin

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It’s Duff Roman’s eighteenth birthday, but no one is lighting candles. 
Turning eighteen in the orphanage on Kalecca means starvation for those who aren’t hired into a Family. Outside the Family compounds lies the jungle. And in the jungle lies death. And Relics—the only real currency on Planet Kalecca.
The orphans are Duff’s family, and he’s sacrificed everything to keep the orphanage running, even his chance to move on. Now, at eighteen, he has no choice but to leave. Without him to bring in extra money, the orphans will starve under the Company’s control. Duff's only chance to save them is to find a spot on an independent crew and hopefully find a Relic to sell.
A seemingly chance encounter with Z, leader of the most feared independent crew, offers Duff his opportunity to score a Relic. And offers Z a chance to relieve the guilt he feels over his past.
But a company assassin has plans to lay waste to Duff's future, and the orphanage as well.

208 pages, Paperback

First published January 15, 2021

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About the author

Claudia Blood

34 books272 followers
In spite of a busy life wrapped around a military husband, two young children, a dog, bunnies, and a day job, Claudia Blood manages to pen epic, urban, and science fantasies.

My latest books:
Company Assassin, Horizon Found, and Time Rift

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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Jenna Rideout.
655 reviews55 followers
May 11, 2021
I was granted complimentary access to Company Assassin for review purposes as part of my participation in a blog tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Thank you to all involved in affording me this opportunity! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

Tour blog post: https://www.westveilpublishing.com/?p...

Danger is everywhere on the planet Kalecca, and that fact goes double (at least) for orphans. Duff is one of those orphans, and as a newly 18 year old, his time in the orphanage just ran out. Will he be accepted to join a family? Will he be invited to join a crew? Can he find a job that pays enough to live AND continue to support the orphanage?

The dark world-building in this book is fantastically immersive and full of completely unique enemies and snares that I've never read in fantasy books before. If you like dark fantasy or urban fantasy and you're on the hunt for something totally different, read this! I read this book in one sitting, and I don't regret the lost hours of sleep it took to get it done, because I absolutely could not put it down.

Crews are hunting relics, which are objects from the past. The Company buys those relics. Seers read those relics. Crews and The Company alike employ assassins, and every Z-Crew assassin has always been an orphan aged out of the orphanage. Demons and other creatures are prowling just out of reach around every corner, and any dwelling left unprotected and wards and alarms and a completely intact perimeter are vulnerable to attack by nearly immortal demons. Orphanages are run by their own elder youth residents. The current mistress of Duff's now-former orphanage is harbouring a secret: her blood contains nanites, and her touch can be (accidentally) deadly.

What an amazing set-up for a trilogy! I feel the need to dive right into book two, but alas I don't have it yet, so instead I'll fulfil my tour duties, write this review urging everyone else to read this book, and then finally put myself to bed. (Likely to dream of girls with purple nanite fingernails and an old woman in a rocking chair where a childhood bedroom should have been.)
Profile Image for Cecilia Dawn.
121 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2021
This book drew me in immediately! It is the total immersion into the world and story that earned 5 stars from me. I could not put it down and read it in one afternoon! (I may have put off making dinner because I just HAD to finish it)

Company Assassin is hard to describe. It's a coming of age, but not quite because Duff and Matilda are mature beyond their years from their orphanage life. It's a fantasy with elements of sci-fi and a hint of post-apocalyptic. Whatever it is, it's excellent and I'm so glad I read it.

Claudia truly has a gift for writing and the story flows between characters seamlessly. I have read books where the varying points of view were jarring, this is not one of them. Each point of view starts at the beginning of a chapter (changing POV during chapters is a pet peeve of mine and I was relieved she did not do it). I appreciated how she used this viewpoint style to give us, the reader, a well rounded picture of motivations and influences affecting the storyline.

I'd recommend this book to anyone, no matter your typical genre preference. I generally read romance novels, so this was a break away, and a worthwhile one at that. It's low angst, high adventure, and all captivating.

I am eagerly awaiting Horizon Found, the next book in the trilogy.
1,960 reviews25 followers
January 29, 2021
This is book one of the Relic Trilogy and the main character is Duff Roman, who has just turned eighteen and has now aged out of the orphanage on Kalecca, which has been his home for more than ten years, after his whole family and their neighbours were killed in a demon attack. The next oldest is almost a year younger and will now have the responsibility of keeping the other orphan’s alive and from starving. Duff’s little jobs around town helped to bring in extra money for supplies and the donations from a mystery donor, are all that kept the orphanage going for the last few years as the company kept raising costs for everything. He receives his last letter from one of the Family’s that run this compound, hoping to have gotten a job with one of them, with yet another refusal that morning. He now has until sundown to leave the compound and try to survive by himself in the deadly jungle outside, or join one of the independent crews, which don’t have a very good survival rate! These crews have to find relics to sell to the company, to make the money to survive and the only seemingly successful crew is run by Z, who Matilda, the next oldest, warns him against and should be his last resort.

But Matilda has her own secrets and is in the orphanage after her father died. They lived alone in the jungle and he was a scientist, who only revealed a deadly secret about her dangerous nanites, as he was dying. If her fingertips turn purple, it means her nanites are rising to the surface and if she touches anyone, then she could kill them, but if she doesn’t calm down and soon, she could die herself. Her father had spent her entire childhood teaching her how to keep calm and manage her breathing, but teenage hormones made it so much harder to handle. Now the orphanage is her responsibility and in just a year, young Simon would have to take over and he is tears younger than her! When a demon attack breaches the compound, the orphanage is targeted, arranged by an assassin called Ravenne, who is after one of the orphans in particular, but he has already left! Duff races back to the orphanage but is beaten there by a man who looks unlike any other he has seen and finally introduces himself as Zachariah. Matilda has already sent the youngest kids into a secure basement, but one of them is upstairs and Matilda hears a window break up there and realises she is the only one that can save her. She faces a group of five demons and is unarmed, all she has is the power of her nanites, but they don’t last long. Only her father’s teachings allow her to stay relatively calm and move in a way to entice the demons, until Duff and Z arrive. Z gives Duff one of his swords and quickly has to tell him how to kill the demons.

Duff spoke to Z after the attack ended and was to meet him at midday, but made the mistake of waiting at the wrong door, not realising Z would have to leave by the non-Family exit. He races over and exits, but finds himself nowhere near the compound, it having been some sort of portal that chucks him out miles away and in a dangerous part of the jungle. He now needs to find Z or he will no doubt die and soon. Z-Crew consists of Z, James the seer, Rin and Malcom and he manages to find them, just as he is almost overrun by army ants. Matilda now has an obvious attack on the orphanage with the power lines to their protection wards cut deliberately and multiple broken windows all to be fixed, with limited funds. She has to approach one of the Company men, Felix, to help with the repairs, but will probably have to sell her body to pay the rest of what will be owed. Only problem is that if she touches him, she could kill him and that would be an automatic death sentence!

The Company and the Families who run the compound and other safe havens around the planet, run what is left of the human population and it seems someone wants the relics from this planet for their own reasons. Seers are affected by the time disruptions and this allows them to target relic locations, but Ravenne wants them for her own experiments, to power her search for her own daughter, lost years ago and location unknown. Relics and seers are links from the past, but contact with these relics sends the seers mad and they quickly wear themselves into a deadly downward spiral of madness. Ravenne wants Z dead, but as a former assassin and Company employee himself, she is not able to do that without severe recriminations to herself and her agreement with the demons would become null and void. She has others she is using to try and have him killed, but this is a long haul plan that she has and she has people in places he would never expect, ready to act.

Z has his own reasons for no longer being a Company assassin and becoming an independent crew leader, but has a lot of guilt about his past role and has been trying to make up for it in his own ways. The Company are not what most think and those who try to survive without it, are soon put down. This planet they are trying to survive upon, has many dangers in the areas outside of special compounds, and all the animals, insects and even plant life and trees are deadly. To the unaware, it will kill them quickly, even those used to the jungle, it can still be deadly as some of the dangers they face are bigger than them. Special portals can be used by those in charge on the planet, and they even have surveillance all over, keeping an eye on their assets. Ravenne wants Duff to work for her, in an unspecified job, but he remembers his own father’s warnings about such vague offers and the fact that this can hide a lot more than the person wants to reveal. Ravenne would gladly see Duff dead and tries to send him on his way there, but he suddenly realises something is wrong about his old home and the path he should be following.

His childhood with a father who was good at fixing things, left him able to tinker and work things out well, and be well aware of dangers, from his mother’s jungle and survival training skills. He is good at noticing when something is ‘off’ about a situation or location, and this has kept him alive so far. His instincts will no doubt be needed in the future and help him realise who he can trust, even those who may have done him wrong in the past. More danger is coming and the relics are becoming scarcer, leaving less money coming in for all. He has made a powerful enemy and will have to no doubt, face off against her again in the next book. I look forward to seeing what happens to Duff, Z, Matilda and the other kids in the orphanage, as well as finding out more about the relics and seers. I received an ARC copy of this book from BookSprout and I have freely given my own opinion of the book above.
Profile Image for Kelly Greer.
267 reviews3 followers
December 29, 2022
This book is SUCH a fantastic read! I can't wait for Horizon Found!!

The character and world-building is excellent. The story is told from multiple characters' point-of-views, and I love it! I always feel like the story is more complete when I get more perspectives. And I really can't wait to get more from Matilda!!!

This book is action-packed and keeps your attention the whole time. There's no lag at all.

This book is set in a fantasy world, similar to earth, but with slight differences. The majority of the characters appear to be human, but there are demons and some strange animals. There is advanced technology but almost with a post-apocalyptic feel to it. (almost).

I highly recommend this book, and really can't wait for the next in the series!!
Profile Image for Emily Pennington.
16.6k reviews208 followers
January 30, 2021
Duff Roman has just turned eighteen and has aged out of the orphanage on the planet Kalecca where he lived for more than ten years. He is worried about the orphans he has to leave behind when he goes. He has always worked extra jobs to earn a little money to take care of them. What the Company provides is not nearly enough for survival and he knows they will starve without help. The jungle where he must go is full of death, but it also has Relics which are the only currency available. But without joining an independent crew, he will die before he would find anything.

An encounter with Z, the leader of the most feared independent crew, surprisingly offers Duff the chance to get a Relic. Yet the danger has only just begun as a company assassin is out to get rid of both Duff and the orphanage itself.

The character development and world-building in this story is excellent. This story line is action-packed, holding the full attention of the reader as the story unfolds. Grab your copy and see whether Duff can do what he needs to do for the orphans, or if he will need to put all of his attention on his own survival!
Profile Image for Rachel Barnard.
Author 17 books55 followers
February 18, 2021
On the day Duff turns 18 he will be kicked out of the Company’s orphanage. Almost all of the extra income he’s earned over the years has gone back into helping the others in the orphanage. With nowhere to go and having been turned down at all of the other Families, Duff’s only hope is to attach himself to a freelance crew and hope to survive the harsh jungle. Perhaps he can even prove himself an asset in a crew’s search for Relics, the only thing of value on the planet.

This book had a lot going on!

Right from the start the author set up the problem and pulled me into it. I was worried for the main character Duff and how he was going to survive in this harsh world. I wanted him to succeed and I was rooting for him from the very beginning.

Duff does seem to have quite a lot of skills – whenever the plot requires them. Since he’s been living in the orphanage for most of his life, I’m surprised that he remembers how to do certain survivalist things like tracking, etc. He does have great instincts and a big heart. He puts others before himself constantly and does everything in his power to save those around him.

I really liked how the book centered on Duff for enough chapters where I felt like I truly understood who he was and his motivations and the hopelessness of his situation before the POV switched to Z. Z seems like a really fascinating character with a rich backstory. I really want to know why Matilda has such disdain for Z.

A lot of the characters have rich, yet mysterious backstories. I’m very curious about Ravenne and what drove her to be such an evil person when her motivation appears so virtuous. I can’t wait to see how Matilda will rise to importance further along in this series. Even Simon the orphan has a unique skill set and a brooding temper. Even though he’s a minor character, he is developed enough that he’s interesting and unique.

The plot gets more and more complex as the layers of the action unfold. I love how the more I read, the more details were divulged in this rich sci-fi novel. I can tell that the author has a complete story laid out behind the plot of this first book in the series.

The ending did feel less climactic than I would have expected. The momentum from the continual action slowly built throughout the novel and I imagine is still building to a more climactic ending of the story overall. Though the problem introduced in the first part of this book – how will Duff survive being kicked out of the company-sponsored orphanage – was answered in the course of this fast-paced novel.

Though this book is set on another planet where time and space are not the same as Earth, I felt very engaged in the environment and wondrous of all the little details of the world. I really liked how this sci-fi was very focused on the characters and the plot, keeping world-building lean and relevant.

I am anxious to find out what happens to Duff, Z, Matilda, the orphans, and even Ravenne.

First reviewed through Reedsy Discovery.
Profile Image for Elise.
29 reviews
September 1, 2021
Great world building! Slow start but by chapter 3 I was hooked and did not want to put it down. The mystery has me wanting to read the next book in the trilogy asap! I absolutely loved Duff, Z and Matilda.
Profile Image for Rosie Rizk.
449 reviews9 followers
March 5, 2021
On his eighteenth birthday, Duff will be age out of the orphanage and will need to fend for himself. The planet he lives on is a hostile land, covered by viscous jungles, dangerous beasts, and greedy humans. Without a good job or a connection to one of the powerful families, Duff's chances of survival are nil. With no other choices available to him, Duff joins a high risk crew led by a mysterious man named Z. A man who's keeping some secrets about Duff's past and about his own history working for the Company.

This was more of a sci-fi genre than my usual fantasy read. The story is set on another planet that's technologically advanced, but only for those rich enough to afford them. Most of the time, the characters are bumbling about with swords, living on the edge of survival. Contrasting the high tech is the land they live in, a dangerous jungle, where every step leads to deadly beasts.

While Duff was the main character, the pov switched between him, Z, and Matilda, a friend from the orphanage. The swaps were nicely done, and I enjoyed reading each one's perspective. Matilda, as the next oldest, took over care of the orphanage after Duff left. She has her own secrets and a separate story line that will interact with Duff's in the sequel.

Compared to the epically long novels that have become the norm, this book is nice and short. It's a full length story, not a novella, but it won't take weeks to finish either. It's nice to read something that's good and won't be time consuming. As good as those heavy tombs are, not everyone has the free time to devote to them.

There were some plot lines towards the end that weren't explained very well. That can be my fault for missing some points, or maybe they'll be better explained Khan the sequel. They weren't majorplot points though, so while I did feel a bit confused over them, The major portions of the plot were good and coherent.

Aside from those complaints, I enjoyed this book. The world building was nicely done, and the characters each had distinct personalities and difficulties. I'd be interested in continuing this series.

Review copy received.
Profile Image for Leah 🧜‍♀️.
182 reviews5 followers
September 6, 2021
3.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Company Assassin is the first book in the Relic Trilogy by Claudia Blood. In this book, we are taken to a world ruled by the Company, where you are either part of a Family, or you are left to fend for yourself in a dangerous world at the age of 18.

This story focuses on Duff, a newly of age youth left to fend for himself after growing up in the orphanage and receiving rejection letters from the Families.

When the town is attacked by demons, Duff meets Z, the mysterious leader of the notorious Z-crew. This leads to a life a Duff never expected!

This book is a pretty quick read and is full of constant action! I’m currently at home with the flu but this book still managed to keep my attention! There is a bit of a blink-and-you-might-miss-it vibe, so if you need a book that gets straight into the action and takes you for the ride, this is the book for you!

The world building here is very interesting and I’m curious to where Blood will take the Company in the next books. The Company gives me total Big Brother vibes!

We get multiple viewpoints in this book and I am intrigued by Z. I feel like there is a lot to his character and I like how Blood developed him—I want to learn about him even more.

At times, I did wish this book was longer, as it felt like maybe I was missing somethings sometimes. I do tend to read pretty long books, so that might just be my personal preference though.

If you want a quick read with tons of adventure, this is definitely a book to check out!

Thank you Claudia Blood for my copy!
Profile Image for Darnell Cureton.
21 reviews1 follower
April 1, 2022
The world Claudia Blood has built is not a fair one. Planet Kalecca is filled with demons and a jungle that is just as dangerous. An orphanage providing protection for unwanted children, for a price, has removed Duff Roman, who aged out at 18. The remaining children will starve under company control without his help.
Before he can help them, he must find a way to survive in the outside world, even if it means joining a questionable independent crew in search of a Relic. Its value would save the other children in the orphanage that were not selected by a family.

What I liked about this first installment is the cast of characters. I already care about them. Duff is a young adult that is unselfish, looking out for the other orphans and the history of his being an orphan. Matilda, the next in line to age out, has the eye of Company man Felix, who is willing to provide bare essentials for the children, in exchange for her affection.

Claudia does a great job at world-building and plot. It will be a pleasure to read the next installment.
Profile Image for haraka (tinybooknest).
161 reviews11 followers
September 7, 2021
If you are looking for a fast-paced, action-packed book that you could devour in one sitting then Company Assasin is the one that you should check out. There were no "zone-out moments" while reading this book. Something always happened and I can stop the urge to keep flipping the next pages.

The world-building is quite interesting. It's a mixture of Sci-Fi and Fantasy but also has a dystopian element in it. Although in the beginning, I'm a bit struggle to grasp about the world but the more I read the more addictive it be.

The found family tropes were another thing that pulls me to this book. Claudia is so good at picturing the love and care between the orphans. The multiple characters' point-of-views allowed us to have more perspective and a better understanding of the world and the characters.
Profile Image for Elizabeth McDaniel.
2,322 reviews
February 2, 2021
Duff is on a journey to save the kids in the orphanage from starving and dying. After he joins Z’s crew the company is hot on their trail along with the demons and their intriguing and exciting journey to find relics adds more danger, betrayal, reveals secrets from the past, and opens up a whole new world to Duff. Good read.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Book Dragons TBR.
205 reviews7 followers
September 5, 2021
I blew through this book in one setting. This is the first book in the trilogy and the plot is well layed out. The writing is flawless and flows beautifully. Duff is such a well fleshed out character that I found really relatable. Action packed and full of fantasy elements this book is a quick read you will thoroughly enjoy. It's not a huge book so if you are looking for a great book to get you out of a reading slump look no further.
Profile Image for Rhonda.
2,097 reviews27 followers
May 19, 2023
There is a lot of fantasy and excitement in this story. Catches you from the beginning and won't let you go until the end. There are a lot of twists and turns and plenty of adventure in this story. Interesting and complex characters to follow in the story. Hard to put down. Good read.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Kat M.
2,902 reviews19 followers
February 1, 2021
I really enjoyed reading this book, the characters were great and I enjoyed the worldbuilding that was done. The writing style was great and it left me wanting more from the series.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Erika.
108 reviews
September 7, 2021

I am still making my way through this one, but so far the story is lovely and the characters are wonderful! There is action and intrigue in spades! My full thoughts should be up by Monday!
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