I am reading the literary classics, and right now I’m reading The Scarlett Letter. But a classic takes a lot longer to read than other books. I enjoy reading, but I get the most important insights up to a week after I have read a book. So I will review The Scarlett Letter next week.
I enter contests to win books all the time, and last year I won the second book in Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin Series. Many of the books I enter to win in contests I would never buy, but if I win the book and I enjoy it, then I will support the author and that’s what happened with Estep. I have bought all the other books in the series since then because I wanted to know what came next.
The books in the Elemental Assassin Series fall under the genre of science fantasy and I find them highly entertaining. The characters are giants, dwarfs, people who possess and can control various elements such as fire, air, ice, stone and so on. For instance, someone with ice magic can flash freeze a person or thing and someone with fire magic can incinerate. Reading these books you have to open yourself to the impossible. Essentially the story line is that when Gin Blanco was 13 years old, Mab Monroe, a fire elemental used her fire abilities to incinerate Blanco’s mother, Eira and older sister, Annabella. At the time, Blanco thought that her younger sister Bria had died as well.
Blanco was raised by an assassin, Fletcher Lane, and she became very good at killing people and assumed the moniker of Spider – she was an assassin for hire. Blanco’s key goal in life was to kill Mab Monroe who had taken her family from her. The problem is that Monroe was very good at what she did, which was using the fire element to incinerate others – she was also Queen of the Underworld and many feared her. Anything illegal, you can bet that Monroe was involved.
So why did Mab Monroe slaughter Blanco’s family?
Monroe’s aunt Magda could see into the future and predicted that one of Eira’s children would one day destroy her. The aunt indicated that the child possessed two elements – two different magic, ice and stone – which she could control unlike most people who only had one. To prevent that from happening, Monroe had the novel idea of killing the entire family. But two of the daughters escaped, Bria and Gin. Much later when the daughters had grown up, Monroe assumed that Bria was the daughter who could control two elements.
I was fascinated by the books in the series and you have to stretch your imagination because it’s fantasy. But whenever I finished reading one of the books I couldn’t wait for the next book in the series. I just finished reading Spider’s Revenge (Elemental Assassin) and after letting it sit for a while in my brain, ideas started to percolate.
Let’s forget that Gin Blanco is an assassin for a bit, because that’s not a laudable or worthy profession. But let’s instead focus on the qualities and traits that made her successful, and the reason why she was finally able to “eliminate” Mab Monroe.
Patience: Gin Blanco was very patient and waited for the right opportunity before she made her move on the target. She has a cool head and is able to compartmentalize and do her work without getting emotional. Blanco’s patience has also enabled her to walk away and try a next time if the unanticipated happens.
Intelligence: Her foster brother Finnegan Lane always gathers reliable intelligence for Blanco. He has an extensive and reliable network which he taps into and gathers information to help her plan for the assassination.
Support Network: Blanco has others in addition to Finn who helps her to remain successful. Sophia Deveraux controls an element which allows her to get rid of bodies and destroy all DNA evidence. Jo-Jo Deveraux, Sophia’s older sister controls air, which she used to heal Blanco and others when they were injured. Owen Grayson, her beau is skilled at making swords and knives, which Blanco knows how to use effectively.
Hobby or Stress Eliminator: Blanco is good at baking and she bakes when she is stressed and the tension melts away.
Skilled in More Than One Area: Blanco’s foster father owned a restaurant, which was his livelihood when he wasn’t killing people. She inherited the restaurant when he was assassinated. Blanco successfully manages the restaurant and is able to make a good living doing so, even though she doesn’t need the income.
Ongoing Learning: When she decided to give up her profession as an assassin, Blanco decided audit classes at the community college and enjoys reading the myths. In this instalment of the series, Blanco is reading a book called Medea. (Euripides wrote the book Medea)
Relationships are Everything: Blanco understands the importance of relationships and she fiercely defends those who are important to her. When word got out that Gina Blanco was the Spider, the first thing that Blanco did was to start calling those important to her, so they could move into the safe house. When it was time for the showdown between her and Monroe she wanted to go it alone, but her friends wouldn’t allow her to do that. With the help of her friends, Blanco was able to eliminate Monroe.
Embrace Your Talents: Blanco was able to eliminate Monroe because she fully embraced the two elements she could control stone and ice.
Code of Values to Live by: Blanco doesn’t kill children, ever. Also collateral damage is not in her vocabulary, she doesn’t endanger the lives of innocent people.
The World is More Than You: Blanco knew than the world was bigger that she was, and cared fiercely about the people who were important to her. She would give her life for those she loved. When she decided to stop being an assassin for hire, she couldn’t get it completely out of her blood. She interceded on behalf of others and didn’t charge them – she defended those who couldn’t defend themselves.
Spider’s Revenge by Jennifer Estep is not for everyone. I know that many of my friends would never read it because they wouldn’t read murder mystery, thrillers and so on – they tend to like very “serious” books. But my reading is very diverse and I think that has worked for me – it may not work for you. I know that I enjoyed the four books in the series that I have read so far. If you are like me, and when you read, you look for the lessons that you can apply to life, you’ll find many in Spider’s Revenge. And the lessons you learn, such as the ones I’ve outlined above, are lessons that the most successful have already learned and practice.
If you’d like to get a sample of Jennifer Estep’s writing, you can read excerpts and short stories on her website.
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