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.
Song For This Book: First Defeat by Noah Gundersen
After finishing the first book in the Remnant Chronicles, I immediately went out and picked up the second book because I needed to know what happened when Lia to go Venda. And I definitely was not disappointed. This book picks up immediately where the last one left off, and doesn’t miss a beat at it chronicles how Lia copes in this new place among the barbarians.
Two major themes play the lead roles in this book. The first is fairly obvious: betrayal. It’s in the title. I’d have been pretty disappointed if there was no mention of betrayal. But not to worry, because I’m pretty sure every is actually betraying everyone in this book.
The second is how we perceive people, and how our upbringing can affect how we see different groups. This was interesting, because it’s not a common theme in fantasy books. In a YA coming-of-age novel about high school kids discovering their bully is actually just insecure? Sure, we’ve all seen that. But not too often in fantasy, which really puts this book up and above in my mind.
Let’s get into some of the details, though, shall we?
The Good Points of The Heart of Deception:
As mentioned about, how the theme of perception of different cultures plays into this book is great, and Pearson handled it incredible well.
While still not to the level I’d like to see, Lia is getting better at playing the whole political game. She’s figuring out more when to be quiet and when to fight, and how to get people on her side. Some may argue that she should have it much more together by now, but she is only seventeen, and I think she’s doing well with it. It was fun to watch how she played certain situations to achieve a preferred outcome.
There are so many secrets in this book, and they are revealed, either in part or in full, in a rather artistic fashion. Just as you start to get annoyed that nothing is happening, you get walloped with something that you didn’t see coming. I will say no more than that.
Generally, I’m not a fan of switching points of views within books, but it is done well in The Heart of Betrayal. We get just enough information or backstory from the other characters to fill in a few blanks, without giving everything away.
The character of the Komizar gets a point all of its own. I can’t remember the last time we got a bad guy (for lack of better term for him) this well developed. He’s got his good points and bad points, but he’s doing what he believes is going to be best for him and his country. You can tell that he thinks himself to be the hero of his people, and it makes him all the better.
The Downsides of The Heart of Betrayal:
I found the ending to be rather predictable. There weren’t a lot of other ways for it to go. Not that it was bad, just that you kind of knew what was coming. I’ll say nothing more.
While it was better in this book than in the first, the love triangle is still a bit much. If I were in Lia’s shoes, I’d have much more important priorities than which guy I like better. Especially when neither Rafe nor Kaden showed many great qualities in this novel, even compared to the first.
I found that the people of Venda accepted Lia a little too easily. They go on about enemy swine and not accepting outsiders, but they basically opened the doors to her. Maybe this will get resolved or explained in the next book, but it just didn’t sit right for me.
All in all, I did really enjoy this book, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the third instalment. There are so many things that Pearson is doing well with in this series, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it wraps up just as beautifully. Definitely a series you should check out!