Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Heart of Betrayal Review: Lia

Book: The Heart of Betrayal
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles
Standing: Book 2 (ongoing)
Setting: Venda (fictional world)
POV: 1st person by Lia, Rafe, and Kaden, past tense
Genre: YA fantasy

Source: Physical copy
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 470
Release: July 7th, 2015


Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia's life, her erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There's Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be savages. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

There are 3 particular scenes in this book that I cannot stop rereading, and my heart is slowly dying.

This book picks up literally minutes after the ending of the first book. Lia has been reunited with Rafe, but in the worst circumstance possible: as captives and prisoners in the cruel kingdom of Venda. Kaden, the assassin who was on orders to kill Lia but instead brought brought her to Venda in an attempt to save both her life and his loyalty, is doing his best to find a way keep her safe and unharmed. But the Komizar doesn't take too kindly to prisoners, and soon enough, Lia, Rafe, and Kaden are spinning dangerous lies and  risking extreme deception in an attempt to save one another's lives...

In case anyone is wondering: this is not a love triangle. Lia makes her choice extremely clear to the readers from the very beginning. Her actions, however, aren't as clear, but that's because she can't afford to show affection in Venda, since the Komizar could very easily use it against her.

Lia grows quite a bit in comparison to the last book. She goes through various stages as she learns how to adapt best to her new circumstances. We get to see her struggling to make peace with everything that has happened, as well as the anxiety and fear of everything yet to come. She alone knows Rafe's secret, and she does her utmost best to keep others from knowing about it. Lia's interactions with the Komizar were first fierce and rebellious, eventually turning sly as she learns how to manipulate and deceive him. Her acts of rebellion grow from reckless and superficial to quiet and powerful. Lia definitely grows much in this book, learning the ways of careful Venda politics during a time of impending war.

"I don't play games, Kaden. I wage wars."

Rafe. Oh, Rafe. When he came swooping in at the very end of the last (though not exactly as gallantly as I had hoped, sadly) and revealed his secret to Lia, I was an anxious mess. I think I feared his secret getting out more than Lia did, and constantly read with trepidation every time someone approached Rafe alone. Rafe's growth was more of learning how to man up and do the exact opposite of what he normally does. His motivation, of course, is his love for Lia and fear that should his secret get out, she'll be the one to suffer. His belief in his men to get him out never falters, which was a great constant reminder of the greater plot apart from Lia becoming merely immersed in Venda culture.

"If I was found out, I couldn't bring Lia down with me."

Kaden, our assassin. We get so much more backstory on him, and it's hard not to sympathize with him and his actions. Multiple times Lia questions Kaden and why he's so loyal to the Komizar and to Venda, and we finally are able to understand. There are a few parts that completely took my by surprise, like his parents, and that fact that he has it since he was a child. I did not see that coming, at all! But I do feel quite bad for him, and all the terrible things he has to do for the Komizar. But he's doing his best, and often, his best is often more than enough, though he doesn't know it.

Kaden held the weapon out to me. "You might need this. Somehow we're going to get you out of here."

I absolutely adored Rafe's men: Sven, Tarvish, Jeb, and Orrin. I won't give away their roles in the plot, but I'm a big fan of these four, Jeb in particular. The extremes they go to for their prince is commendable, and I want to hug every single one of them. That band of four are the very definition of loyalty!

We're introduced to the reality of Venda, and along with Lia, begin to understand how the Komizar works to keep Venda's citizens alive in the midst of starvation. The values in Venda stream directly from survival, and nothing is taken for granted. Meat itself goes through rigorous preparation in order to get every last bit, and clothes are made from the barest of scraps. Likewise, the citizens themselves are doing what they can to survive the hardships of starvation, and latch onto any hope the Komizar can give them. So the question shifts to this: is Venda and its citizens truly a bad place, or it is just the Komizar doing everything in his power to save them?

The plot was daring, full of unexpected twists and turns and anxiety. The book is much darker and deals with bigger questions like how to provide for a starving kingdom while still being "the good guy." Lia begins to unveil mythology of this world, and also begins to learn more about her gift and her purpose for coming to Venda. 

This book was fantastic, and it easily captivated me. The sense of looming death hangs over everyone, and you can't help but fear for the life of every character you come across. My heart was stretched thin with worry for so many different characters that I completely did not see the death of one of them coming. At all.

The ending is roughly the same level of cliff-hanger ending as Kiss of Deception was, but now there are even more questions than before, the state of Venda in particular. What will become of Lia, Rafe, and Kaden? How on earth can they untangle the mess they're in? All these burning questions, which will have to wait until The Beauty of Darkness comes out!


  1. I've always wanted to read this series and I stop whenever I walk past it in the bookstore! From your review, I really want to read it now! :) I've had to scan it quickly in fear of spoilers, but it was a great review!

    Cloe @ Mornings and Epilogues

    1. You should give this series a try! It's different, and I really enjoyed it!

  2. Wow this looks like a Great series. Fabulous review Erika. ;)

  3. I have heard nothing but good things about this series. I'm totally checking it out soon!

  4. Yayayaya, we can now discuss this series and get excited about The Beauty of Darkness, and of course discuss the millions of potential plot twists that we ever see coming!!
    You must tell me about these 3 scenes you can't stop re-reading, I'm so intrigued :P
    I loved the background on Kaden, he's been the mysterious Vendan for far too long, I've always wanted to know what is deal is.... I DID NOT SEE IT COMING. P.s how scary is Venda?
    I will not be visiting there anytime soon, ha. I loved slipping back into this world and not having any idea what was going to happen, hopefully we'll get more Rafe in book 3 <3
    Fantastic review Erika!!

    Cody @ Literary-ly Obsessed

    1. PLOT TWISTS. And RAFE <3 We have much to discuss before The Beauty of Darkness comes out! I didn't see Kaden and his backstory either. Venda is such a scary place, definitely don't want to be there during their winter periods!

  5. I love this series and this book killed me! The last one is going to be so intense!
    Great review! :)

    Ang @ The Gilded Pages

  6. I actually loved this book so much!! OMG I AM TOTALLY TEAM RAFE!!! Ahaha! Great review! I am dying for the last book!

    1. YES TEAM RAFE OH MY GOD YES!!! The last book is one that is going to leave me in a serious book hangover. I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life after it's over!