Title: The Heart of Betrayal
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles, #2
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
The Heart of Betrayal picks up right where The Kiss of Deception left off. Lia is now aware of who they really are now that Rafe and Kaden have stopped masquerading as simple farmers and traders. However she has more immediate problems to face she was walks into Venda, fully believing she will never find her way out again.
Lia knows her life inside the walls of Venda is precarious. Kaden brought her time claiming her ‘gift’ will be useful to the Vendans but the Komizar who rules over Venda knows better. He has other plans for Lia and her so-called gift, and Lia finds herself playing a very dangerous game where it won’t just be her life at risk if she loses, but Rafe’s as well.
Buying himself time by pretending to be a Dalbreck emissary Rafe walked into Venda at Lia’s side. In the small amount of time the two manage to find together Rafe shares the bare bones of the plan he made with his four soldiers still on the outside. He believes they will be able to get the both of them out of Venda safely but Lia is sceptical, what can four soldiers do against a city of hundreds, and after what happened to her brother at the hand of Vendan soldiers Lia wants revenge against the Komizar.
Meanwhile Kaden struggles with his loyalties, trying to reconcile his feelings for Lia with his dedication to the Komizar and Venda. While Kaden tries to help Lia find a place among Venda Lia and Rafe are planning their escape, and all the while the Komizar is watching them closely, waiting for just one of them to slip up.
One issue I had with the first book was the pacing, but that was not a problem in this book at all. There is a lot more happening, and now Lia is aware of Kaden’s and Rafe’s true identities she becomes a proper player in this story. All three play with politics and loyalties in Venda to further their own plans but there is so much that could go wrong and the tension kept me on the edge of my seat for most of this book.
Lia quickly became my favourite character in this book, all the issues I had with her characterisation in The Kiss of Deception were gone in this one allowing me to understand her and her actions much more. Although Lia is a prisoner in Venda she finds her own power from the people there, twisting their expectations of her as a royal. She knows Rafe is coming up with a plan to free them both but she can’t help connecting with the people she meets in Venda, growing to care for them as much as she does her own people.
While Rafe’s main priority is getting Lia out of Venda, Lia’s seems to be revenge. After watching her brother slaughtered she wants the Komizar to pay for what he did, and she is determined to get that vengeance but she isn’t stupid about it. She knows if she goes against anyone head on she will be cut down before she can so much as scratch their skin. Instead she plays the part of the docile prisoner and princess, lying to Kaden the way he did to her and biding her time.
The love triangle between Lia, Rafe and Kaden took a back seat in this book to allow more room for the power play between Lia and the Komizar. While the Komizar tries to take control of Lia and her words, Lia tries to take control of the people, earning their loyalty anyway she can.
Pretending to mean less to one another than they do the development of the relationship between Lia and Rafe feel rushed in the small amount of time they have together to plan their escape. Rafe thinks he knows what’s best for Lia, and maybe he does but he doesn’t seem to take what she actually wants into account, going ahead with his plans for escape when he knows Lia wants revenge first.
We learn a lot more about Kaden in this book. Now back in Venda he struggles between his feelings for Lia and his loyalty to the Komizar who took him off the streets; Kaden owes everything he is to the Komizar and the two are closer than brothers. The Komizar thinks that for Kaden Venda will always come first but he still wars between that and what he feels for Lia, and his struggle was interesting to read. He can’t fight against the Komizar, not without losing his own life, but he can try and help Lia in any way he can.
In the first book we saw Morrighan, and the best of the country when Lia and Pauline were making their lives in Terravin, and during the first book we heard a little about Venda and the barbarians who made their home there. In this second book we get to see Venda for ourselves and we see, along with Lia, that the things she’s heard about the Vendans that cast them in such a cruel light aren’t true. The city has its struggles, which are easy to see in comparison to the life Lia had in Terravin, but their people are strong and their language beautiful, so much more the grunts Lia and Pauline were mocking them with. There is still a lot about the history of Morrighan, Venda and Dalbreck that we are discovering along with Lia as she reads the journals she stole from the Chancellor, but it’s really well written. There’s not too little information include to make it feel incomplete, but at the same time not too much to become huge info dumps in the middle of the action.
After reading The Heart of Betrayal I can see why people love this series so much. The Kiss of Deception was a letdown for me; the plot was too slow and Lia’s character development didn’t allow me to connect with her. This book however exceeded all my expectations and now I can’t wait to jump into the last book and find out how everything ends.
What did you think of The Heart of Betrayal? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.