Wednesday, August 6, 2014

BLOG TOUR: The Guild of Assassins by Anna Kashina - TOP TEN Assassins!

Hi everyone! We're really excited today to be a part of the blog tour for Anna Kashina's newest book, The Guild of Assassins, the second book in her Majat Code series. From Angry RobotThe Guild of Assassins is out now in the US/Can and will be released tomorrow in the UK! So go get your copy now!

Before we get to Anna's Top Ten Assassins, take a couple minutes to read a little bit about the book and Anna. We can't wait to read The Guild of Assassins!

About the Book

Title: The Guild of Assassins (Majat Code #2)
Author: Anna Kashina
Publication Date: July 28, 2014 (US/Can)
                              7 August 2014 (UK)
Genre: Fantasy


Synopsis: The sequel to Blades of the Old Empire.

Kara has achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!

But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.

But is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a distraction sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?

UK Print & Ebook | Book Depository | Waterstones | WHSmith

North American Print & Ebook | | |

Global DRM-Free Epub Ebook
On-sale July 29th 2014 from the Robot Trading Company

About the Author

Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences.

She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing.

Anna’s interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

You can find Anna online at her website:, on Twitter @Annakashina and on Facebook.

Interview on The Civilian Reader

Article: ‘Story Behind Blades of the Old Empire’ on Upcoming4

Article: ‘My Favorite Bit’ on Mary Robinette Kowal

Anna's Top Ten Assassins

Thank you for hosting my post, and for coming up with such a fun topic. I love assassins as fictional characters. I know I am by far not the only one. Thus, in compiling this list, I tried to stick as closely as possible to the works of fiction (movies and books), or at least to the literary sources that go back far enough to make the difference between fiction and reality somewhat obscure.

1. Judith.

This is my example that comes as close as I will to real life, and I am putting her first due to chronological considerations. Her story is written in the Old Testament, and she became one of the most romanticized Byblical characters of all times. When Holofernes, the Assyrian general, tried to conquer the lands of her people, Judith went into his tent, seduced and drugged him. After he fell asleep, she cut off his head, thus saving her people from the invasion. Unlike my other examples below, she was not an assassin by training, but she certainly committed one of the earliest assassinations in written history.

2. James Bond. 

I am a fan of James Bond movies (more so than the books). And here is a great example of what makes an assassin such a romantic character. He is the best at what he does. On top of that, he is also a man who loves life, has a secret heart ache, and is compassionate and responsible. For the most part, he does not take killing lightly. And he has the extra flair by being attractive, charming, and likeable. To me, this makes an irresistible combination.

3. Lord Havelock Vetinari.

Terry Pratchett is my favorite fantasy author, and his Assassins Guild served as my first introduction to the idea, which later, in a more serious form, found its way onto the pages of my Majat Code trilogy. Lord Vetinari’s role in Terry Pratchett’s novels has nothing to do with assassinations -- he is the Patrician of Ankh Morpork, a very successful ruler who makes the city prosper. And yet, we learn that he has been trained as an assassin, and more than once it comes to people’s minds that no one ever had seen him with a weapon in hand (which of course brings on the possibility that those who have seen him with a weapon did not live to tell the tale). In “Night Watch”, one of my favorite Discworld novels, he does actually shoot someone. A as assassins go, Lord Vetinary is priceless.

4. Vitala Salonius

Among my recent favorites, there is the “Hearts and Thrones” series by Amy Raby that was published and marketed as fantasy romance, but to me is more of an adventure fantasy, in the same style as my “Majat Code” series. Vitala is the main character in “Assassin’s Gambit”, book I of Amy Raby’s trilogy. She has been trained to assassinate the Emperor of Kjall, the man who is also a war mage, which means no one can possibly overpower him one-on-one. Vitala belongs to the secret Obsidian Circle, and she has been trained to kill war mages during sex, when a man temporarily loses control. Of course, during the book, things go out of hand. I find Vitala very likeable, and extremely well done.

5. Aghat Mai

I could not resist mentioning my favorite character from my own books. Mai is the Diamond-ranked Majat Assassin, the best of the best. He first appears in “Blades of the Old Empire” and takes center stage in its sequel, “The Guild of Assassins”. Mai has been conceived as a secondary character, a man who can pose a believable threat to the main heroine--Kara, a Diamond-ranked warrior herself. And then he turned out so well that he became my favorite character to write about. He is a man I tend to swoon over. I think part of it is in the contrasts: in addition to being good-looking and highly skilled, he has a good and a bad side to his personality, which often makes him unpredictable--and dangerous. To me, these qualities are irresistible. Just a look at the “Guild of Assassins” cover could probably give one an idea :-).

6. Naji of the Jadorr’a

My other recent favorite book series is the “Assassin’s Curse” by Cassandra Rose Clarke and its sequel “The Pirate’s Wish”. In these books, Naji is a blood magician from the order of assassins. He is fast, and deadly, and can move through the shadows in ways nearly undetectable by ordinary people. In his realm, he is undefeatable. Yet, he shows a lot of vulnerabilities when confronted with normal human emotions and put into situation where his magic is useless. He is very handsome, but has a disfiguring magical scar on his cheek. Again, these contrasts -- power and vulnerability, beauty and disfigurement--make him irresistible.

7. For my #7 I will have to name a movie rather than a character. It is called “Hero”, a Chinese movie that came out in 2002 and ran in the US. In this movie, a group of top warriors plot an assassination of the Emperor of Qin. One of them, the Nameless (played by Jet Li), succeeds in reaching the emperor, penetrating all his defenses, and holding him at sword point. And then he lets the emperor go, because during this encounter he gets a feeling that going through with his plan would destroy China. Besides the Nameless, there are three other assassins in the movie, all of them amazingly well done. It would take too much time to describe them all, but this is actually my favorite martial arts movies, and I love watching it from time to time.

8. Beatrix Kiddo.

Another movie example, from “Kill Bill” by Quentin Tarantino. This is not a typical movie for me to like, since I don’t like excessive gore and violence, and strongly prefer historical and/or fantasy settings. However, something about this movie is irresistible, perhaps in the ways it is too much over the top to be realistic. I watched it many times when working on “The Majat Code” series, and used it as a source of some weapons and martial arts moves. The exotic weapons wielded by the Kaddim warriors in my books--orbens--are inspired by this movie.

9. Sanara from “Whims of the Goddess” by Sandra Elsa.

I am naming a very obscure book, which has been self-published by someone who had been my writing workshop partner many years ago and probably sold only single copies. Yet, this is the book I keep thinking about after all these years. The main character, Sanara, is one of the top assassins, who struggles between doing her job and pursuing her love. My favorite scene in the book is the one where she assassinates a notorious warlord by infiltrating his fortress and seducing him. This is very well done, and Sanara comes through as a very likeable and realistic character.

10. Celaena from “Throne of Glass” series by Sarah J. Maas.

Her attraction is in the way she combines being a sensitive young girl and being an assassin in her trade. I find this character, and the books, very enjoyable.

Thank you so much to Anna for stopping by to share her Top Ten Assassins with us! Do you have a favorite assassin? Let us know in the comments!

--Ashley & Paul

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