To catch an assassin, use an assassin….
Girton Club-Foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But their latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.
In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies, Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire land.
Author: RJ Barker
Narrator: Joe Jameson
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Running Time: 13 hrs 2 mins
Audio Release Date: 03/08/2017
My Rating of ‘Age of Assassins’: 5 out of 5
This is one of those titles that has been doing the rounds on so many blogs and every time I saw it reviewed I wanted to clear my reading list and just get stuck into it. As anyone who saw my review for Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance will know, even though I gave that god-awful book a very generous two out of five (and it pained me to do it) I absolutely love fantasy novels revolving around assassins. So picking this up was kind of like an addict getting his next fix. It was always going to happen.
I deliberately avoided reading the reviews I saw online as I didn’t want any spoilers to crop up. The only way to start off is by saying that this title did not disappoint. The story was fabulous and the cast of characters equally so. It had everything from intrigue, to romance, to shadowy plots and, of course, a bit of school yard bullying from a thoroughly hateful little wastrel of a boy.
I’m really enjoying books that are read in the first person narrative. In fact, they tend to be the books I prefer more than anything. From the Flashman Papers to the Warhammher 40k Ciaphas Cain novels, to Blackwing and even Assassin’s Creed Black Flag (review coming later this week), they are often engaging and interesting regardless of what is happening at any given time.
Unlike most tales of assassins, or fantasy protagonists in general, our hero isn’t a muscular Adonis making the ladies swoon wherever he goes. Admittedly, he is a very capable killing machine due to the training he has from his master. He’s a cripple with a club-foot. Not the first thing you’d think of when envisioning an assassin skulking in the shadows ready to slit a throat. R. J. Barker does well to remember his character’s limitations and often highlights when his disability is causing him pain or distress. Its little bits of attention to detail like that which bring a welcome touch of realism to a fantasy world.
I won’t delve too much into the story, after all I don’t want to spoil anything. But I will say that the relationships, be they positive, negative or somewhere in-between, are well-formed and the characters all have … well … character to them. None of the named/important characters feel like they were just thrown in.
The world is also pretty detailed. This excites me more than most when it comes to a fantasy novel, as it means the author is fully intent on going deep into his creation. Nothing worse than a series that has little depth to the background.
My only slight negative was that I didn’t think the narrator would gel well for the whole story. Just at the start I kind of felt his voice wouldn’t fit. Thankfully, I was wrong and he settled down really well into it and did the varying cast of characters justice with his narration. Either that or I got used to him so quickly that it didn’t bother me (which would be a plus in itself).