To save a king, kill a king….
The assassin Girton Club-foot and his master have returned to Maniyadoc in hope of finding sanctuary, but death, as always, dogs Girton’s heels. The place he knew no longer exists. War rages across Maniyadoc, with three kings claiming the same crown – and one of them is Girton’s old friend Rufra.
Girton finds himself hurrying to uncover a plot to murder Rufra on what should be the day of the king’s greatest victory. But while Girton deals with threats inside and outside Rufra’s war encampment, he can’t help wondering if his greatest enemy hides beneath his own skin.
Author: R.J Barker
Narrator: Joe Jameson
Series: The Wounded Kingdom (Book 2)
Running Time: 15hrs 7 mins
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Release Date: 13/02/18
My Rating of ‘Blood of Assassins’: 4 out of 5
Blood of Assassins takes place a few years after the events of Age of Assassins. Rufra is now king (one of them anyway) and is fighting for his right to be called king over all the lands. Blood of Assassins has, at the same time, a very similar feel to it and yet a very different one to Age of Assassins.
I know, that’s kind of a paradox. On the one hand, Girton being a detective to solve another murder/assassination attempt style plotline rears its head. I was sat there thinking ‘Is RJ Barker a one-trick pony? Is it not possible for anything to happen without Girton having to solve a (the same kind) of crime in both books? Is he going to flog the same dead horse in book three and get Girton to solve yet another killing? Fortunately, the whole ‘Detective Girton’ part is done in a totally different way and has a fresh feel to it. Although, saying that, I’d still like for it to not happen in the third book. As the idea does get a bit stale when thinking about it.
The character building/character progression with Girton from the first book to this one is done very well. In book one, he is very much sheltered from the majority of the world by his master; so much so that everything seems new and wonderful to the poor young cripple. However, in book two, he takes on more of a moody teenage boy filled with angst and distrust at the world around him. He’s also a tad selfish. I actually found myself disliking both him and his thought process for large parts. If the world around him isn’t doing something to include or benefit him, he tends to disagree with it or actively try and stop things happening. Why should other people have their happiness, right?
That being said, as much of a moody, annoying little drama queen that he is; Girton is still fairly loveable for the most part. He can’t help the way he is and it was probably my fault as a reader for not realising that sooner. The author does a good job of explaining the broken background he comes from and, to be fair, any kid raised as a killer is going to be a little fragmented in the old brain department.
The other characters, both supporting and main cast, all have excellent character growth/progression as well. At times it feels almost Stephen King-ish the way the characters are developed. Just a slightly faster way than Mr King that doesn’t require 1,400 pages. I found myself intrigued by their desires/plots for revenge against former friends or brothers, romances etc … It just felt refreshing to care about a host of characters’ wishes rather than just the main character’s (who, as you have probably already guessed, wasn’t high on my ‘I want you to succeed in your hopes and dreams’ category).
Emotions is the final point I’ll touch on. R.J Barker does a great job of making you feel a whole range of them across both books. From hope to expectation, to bitterness and despair, all the way to grieving and loss. Nobody, be they primary, secondary or tertiary character is exempt from a bit of happiness and a dollop of misery.
As a whole, I came away feeling very satisfied with the story and am looking forward to seeing where the tale goes and how the characters progress along their various different plot-arcs. But, for the love of God, please let Girton do something other than become Sherlock Holmes where a murder is concerned in the third book.