I read it in the year 1997 - most likely published 10-20 years earlier than that. Things that I recall:

  1. Cover art had this man-like being engulfed in (wings of?) fire, protecting a girl

  2. Plot deals with a rebel group (?) planning to upstage this master captain (John?) who has an illegitimate daughter he sired on Earth. The girl has not idea she is the heir to this (later-become-vicious) person

  3. There is a love story intersected with an assassin out to kill the father/find (and kill the girl) - I forget which - he belongs to a breed(!) of assassins who are face-changers (and possibly take on the face of the person they kill - or maybe that's just a "faceless man" confabulated memory from GOT

  4. The book ends with this fantastic sword fight between the assassin and the King/Captain/villain father who was otherwise trying to attack his daughter

  5. Also, they exclusively refer to things called "ships" that I later realised were space-ships!

  6. Some planets were referenced, including Mars (I recall that's where the assassin was from - or all the assassins trained there). The final battle took place on (near) one of the Suns of another planet.

  7. It may have included some first-person narration from the girl's point-of-view. I distinctly remember the assassin saying a corny line on how "killing is the second-most oldest profession in the world" and then the girl asks "what's the first", realises he meant prostitution* and blushes.

    • I also think she was the daughter of a prostitute.
  • Hi there! :) there's already good info in there, but maybe you could take a look at this guide on how to ask a good story-ID question, see if that triggers any more memories you could edit in? For instance, did you read that in English? Was it a translation? – Jenayah Aug 20 '18 at 15:37
  • Thank you, that's very helpful. Making a few edits now. – Poonam Aug 20 '18 at 15:39
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    @Poonam You use the word "upstage" unusually. The definition of the verb upstage is: verb 1. divert attention from (someone) toward oneself; outshine. "they were totally upstaged by their costar in the film" synonyms: outshine, outclass, eclipse, overshadow, trump, put someone in the shade, put to shame "she is now upstaging the very person who brought her into the company" - So using "upstage" to mean overthrow, depose, replace, assassinate, etc. is unusual. You might as well leave "upstage" in your title and question since such an unusual term should draw more attention. – M. A. Golding Aug 20 '18 at 16:01
  • Makes sense, thanks – Poonam Aug 21 '18 at 4:19

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