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.
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."