Forge of the Assassin

NEXUS Book 7

Fiction - Thriller - General
406 Pages
Reviewed on 11/01/2023
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Author Biography

Ross Harrison is the author of novels and short stories in the realms of science fiction - specifically space opera and science fantasy - thriller, noir, and post-apocalyptic steampunk. He has been writing since childhood, and occasionally likes to revisit those old stories for a good cringe and nervous laugh. He also writes about himself in the 3rd person because it seems more professional.

Ross lives on the UK/Eire border in Ireland, where he moved from England in 2001, hoping the rain will help his hair grow back.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lexie Fox for Readers' Favorite

Forge of the Assassin, a science fiction thriller, is the seventh installment in the NEXUS series and is suitable for all readers. Written by Ross Harrison, this book continues the story of the assassin Alexiares – Codename Ares – who, since the previous installment, has spent seven years on the run with Baby in an effort to keep them safe from the people who would destroy them or, even worse, transform Baby into a living weapon. When the nightmare scenario happens and Baby is taken, Alexiares must use every skill in her arsenal to rescue Baby and bring retribution to those who separated them.

The world-building in this novel is outstanding, with an attention to detail that makes the entire universe in which it is set quite credible. Sometimes gritty, sometimes spectacular, the world of Ross Harrison’s NEXUS is structured well and brought to life with masterful and evocative prose. Alexiares is a complex protagonist with a familiar driving force behind her actions; however, she manages to keep the audience engaged in her journey as they root for her at her lowest moments and cheer for her in moments of success. To create such a wonderfully fleshed-out character in a fantastical setting is always a treat to read, and Forge of the Assassin accomplishes this throughout. An engaging and dynamic narrative set in an exciting and imaginative world, all with a compelling character at the beating heart of it makes this book one you won’t be able to put down any time soon.

Alma Boucher

Forge of the Assassin: NEXUS Book 7 is a thriller by Ross Harrison. Seven years ago, Alexiares saved Juni and spent the following seven years protecting her from Pinky and the Church, the same individuals who had trained her to become an assassin. Alexiares was prepared to live a normal life to make sure Juni had a better life than before. Juni was raised with an awareness of weaponry, self-defense, and the Church. Alexiares vowed that Juni would not be trained by Pinky to become an assassin, but Juni was kidnapped. To locate Juni, Alexiares must outrun the Church and a government task team. Will Pinky succeed in his plan to make Juni an even greater assassin, and will Alex and Juni reunite?

Forge of the Assassin is an intriguing novel that had my attention from the start. Ross Harrison took me on a roller coaster ride of betrayal, murder, and bodies falling and rising again. Brazen, intense, and devastating action takes place all the time. With all the twists and turns, I never knew what to expect next. It was a page-turner, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. The characters were realistic and relatable. Alexiares had a compelling personality that drew me in. Because Juni was only seven years old, I wondered what would happen to her if she were turned into an assassin. She won my heart, and her inner thoughts made for some tender yet tragic moments. The story was superbly written and had me guessing until the end.

Jamie Michele

In Forge of the Assassin by Ross Harrison, little Juni is being trained by Alex due to threats from the Church. After an invasion, Alex sets fire to their home and decides to leave for Orion, out of the Church's reach. They live a life on the run, and Alex attempts to balance Juni's needs and her own vigilance. When Alex's former mentor Pinky returns, she absconds with Juni, pushing Juni and the other children into intense physical and mental training. Using the human massacre by the Izarians as an example of how a kill could prevent tragedy, the significance of an Assassin's role in shaping events is proposed to Juni. Alex, desperate to rescue Juni from being molded into a weapon, seeks the help of a hacker. Pinky taunts Alex as she moves closer to Juni, contriving ways to break Alex down while the police, Assassins, and other associates of the Church close in around her.

As a mother, the details of Juni's brutal training under Pinky's watch were the most difficult part of Forge of the Assasin, and the fact that Ross Harrison could elicit such an emotional response from me is a testament to his skill as a writer. Forge is the seventh book in the Nexus series, but the first I happened to pick up and read. It took me half a second to level out the Baby/Juni backstory, but Harrison weaves it in so well that I was perfectly comfortable reading it as a standalone. Of course, afterward, I realized I'd robbed myself of what is likely to be six exceptional build-ups. There are a lot of moving pieces and characters, and Alex's torment over the past, Pinky, and finding Juni are palpable, but there is a great deal more in the mix. The climax is as chaotic as mass panic in a crowded stadium and as beautiful as a little girl who knows her value beyond the barrel of a gun. Overall, this is an engrossing, entertaining read.

Romuald Dzemo

Alexiares, “Alex,” is the most dreaded assassin of all time and she has made a promise never to raise Baby the way she had been raised. Her mission has been to protect Juni and to do everything for her not to become what she has been and what she is. She won't give in, no matter how much the Church hunts her. It has taken great sacrifice to save Baby — killing cops, intelligence officers, and assassins. After seven years of protecting Baby, her greatest fear has become a reality: Baby is taken from her, and those who have her are determined to fashion her into a murder weapon. Now, Alex is deeply hurt and life is meaningless unless she rescues Baby. Now Alex won’t live anymore in the shadows. The demon is loose in Forge of the Assassin by Ross Harrison!

While Forge of the Assassin is the sequel to Church of Assassins, it reads perfectly as a standalone novel. The backstory is woven well into the story, thanks to Ross Harrison's use of streams of consciousness. The heroine is an assassin who lives for one purpose: to protect Baby. Her devastation when Baby is taken constitutes a crisis point in the narrative and the story moves through complex plot points into a surprising denouement. Readers will want to see the heroine’s fury and know where her next step will lead. She is surrounded by formidable enemies, including government operatives, assassins, and her own nightmares. The action that moves this story forward is pulsating and the writing is impeccable. This author knows how to create tension through wonderful writing, short paragraphs, and clear sentences that heighten the dramatic effect of the narrative. The protagonist is one of those enigmatic characters that readers will want to watch in a movie — strong, deeply flawed, and sophisticated. Characters like Pinky, Alex’s mentor, will also grab their attention. Mysterious deaths, sleuth work, and intriguing action are among the elements that set this propulsive work apart. You won't stop turning the pages.

Parul Sood

Ross Harrison's Forge of the Assassin delivers a narrative that keeps readers riveted from start to finish. This new installment in the NEXUS series picks up the gripping saga of Alexiares, famously known as Ares, a legendary assassin who has successfully eluded death and an unrelenting pursuit for seven years. Her mission? To safeguard a young child named Baby, now lovingly referred to as Juni. The beating heart of this tale is the strong bond between Ares and Juni. Ares, in her role as protector, has mothered Juni as her own, imparting indispensable skills for surviving in a world fraught with danger. Their relationship is the emotional core of the story, offering moments of compassion and warmth amidst the chaos. Ares seizes the reader's attention from the outset with her steadfast determination. Her relentless spirit and resolve to protect Juni make her a character that is easy to follow.

Ross Harrison skillfully weaves a multifaceted narrative in Forge of the Assassin. It is brimming with action, palpable suspense, and an infusion of thought-provoking sci-fi elements, a combination hard to come by. The story unfolds against a backdrop of catastrophic events and unforeseen turns, leaving readers on edge as they wonder about the fates of the characters. The integration of science fiction elements adds depth to the narrative, immersing readers in a world of cultural and social complexities. The plot maintains an implacable pace, mirroring the characters' struggle to be cleverer than assassins, political forces, and their demons. With its carefully crafted narrative, unforgettable characters, and a story that keeps you engaged from beginning to end, this novel is a must-read for enthusiasts of sci-fi and heart-pounding adventures. It reminds us of the indomitable power of resilience, love, and the unshakable bond between a guardian and her ward.