Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: Age of Assassins
R.J. Barker
Series Name: The Wounded Kingdom
Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: Aug 1st, 2017
Pages: 393 (Paperback)
Publishers: Orbit
4 star

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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 his 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 kingdom.

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I really enjoy how the cover looks simple from a distance but if you look closely there is a fair bit of detail. I also don’t mind the colouring but I prefer the colouring for the last book in the series the most, it is yet to have a release date set for those curious.

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The writing was mostly pretty good for this one. There were a few slow parts but they weren’t extremely irritating, just a little annoying.
There could have been a little more world-building, there was heaps of character development/building, but the world building was lacking. It mostly lacked information and there are still a couple things I don’t understand, for example, what makes someone ‘blessed’? It just wasn’t explained, but hopefully, it will be in book 2 as I plan to pick that up as soon as I finish this review!

I just also wanted to make a small comment about the relationship in this book. It started as basically Insta Love and even though he visited her kinda often, they barely talked to each other when they were together and they never talked about themselves, so yep, I’m calling it Insta Love. Then when she is traumatised by an event she leaves a note for him to meet her and then they are having sex… Then the next thing they are saying they love eachother… So YEAH…..
*There isn’t actually a sex scene, it is just implied*

I also really would have liked a map for this book! I think every Epic/High Fantasy should have a map. The castle layout was described at the start but I forgot it basically 2 pages later.

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Okay, so firstly for the plot I need to point out that this is a mystery! I went in thinking ASSASSINS, but that is not its main focus. I still enjoyed the plot of the book, but it is a mystery and overall the plot is based on solving the mystery. So if you are looking for a plot with constant action and fight scenes in every chapter, then this isn’t the book you are looking for.

As I said I still enjoyed the plot though. It was a little slow and also a little confusing at the start until you start getting the hang of the world and who is who as there are a lot of characters to follow. Not, Game of Thrones a lot, but still a lot.

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Okay firstly with the characters I just want to address something that I have seen in a few of the reviews I have read since finishing the book this arvo. That is people feeling uncomfortable with Girton always calling Merela ‘Master’ instead of her name. Yeah it is a bit odd without context I guess but it was explained in one of the Interludes. The Interludes are dreams that Girton has of memories from his past. In one of those, it touches on what Girton was put through before he was put up for sale as a slave and Merela saved him by purchasing him. Before he came to Merela though, he was forced to call people ‘Master’ and I would assume he was probably beaten or hurt in some form if he disobeyed. That is why, even when Merela insisted that he doesn’t call her ‘Master’, he still does out of habit and that habit just continued on to the age he is in this book.

So I just wanted to get that out of the way. Now onto the actual characters. There are tonnes that I don’t really wanna talk about because you really need to discover how good they actually are or how bloody crazy they actually are as you read! But I will talk about a couple.

Firstly, Girton. He is a little naive at times due to his lack of being around anyone but Merela for any length of time. He is also intelligent and fairly kind for an assassin!
Merela really cares about Girton and that shows strongly on multiple occasions if he is hurt or in danger. But she doesn’t try and shield him away, he is still an assassin and she lets him discover things for himself and push himself if he chooses to.
Rufra was really weird at the start honestly. I did not like him at all but I grew to like him at the end of the story when he started to be written as an actual character rather than the little guy that gets beaten up by the bullies and gravitated towards the first person that was an outsider and didn’t bully him as soon as meeting him.

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Overall, the plot was good and the characters were better. The writing could use some work but a couple people did say in their reviews that this was a debut, so hopefully his next work will display a bit more experience. The world building needs a lot of work and I hope it’s better in the second book!

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2 thoughts on “Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker – Spoiler Free Review

  1. I was just looking for a new fantasy author/ series so will check this out, thank you! I do love the cover although the lack of worldbuilding might be an issue. Hopefully, the characters will make up for it.

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