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

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Title: Blood of Assassins
Author: 
R.J. Barker
Series Name: The Wounded Kingdom
Genre: 
Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: Feb 15th, 2018
Pages: 434 (Paperback)
Publishers: Hachette Australia/Orbit
Rating:
4 and a half star

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The king is dead, long live the 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.

Blood of Assassins is the epic sequel to RJ Barker’s debut Age of Assassins, set in a world ravaged by magic, featuring a cast of assassins, knights, ambitious noblemen, and fools.

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You can find my review of Book 1 in this series, Age of Assassins HERE.

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I feel the same about this cover as I did with the first. It appears simple from a distance. Just a red cover with a slash and a person standing in it. But then you look closer and there is heaps more detailed than you realised.

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So, my main complaint from book 1 was that the world building was lacking and that still stands in this book. There are words that are used with no explanation (Hedging, Thankful, Yellowers, Blessed, Nonmen and a few more I can’t think of). I understand that they are different types/classes of people but I don’t get how they are determined, what they mean or what the difference is.

Book 1 had chapters that were just Girton’s dreams and they were really well done. Most of the dreams were things that happened in his past and it was an awesome way to get some background on both him and Merela. The same thing was used a couple times in this book, but they were horrible. I couldn’t understand what was going on in these dreams at all. Everything was disjointed, repetitive and utterly confusing. They also didn’t seem to have a point. In the first book, it was history, so it was giving us background but these didn’t seem to try and show the reader anything in particular.

Besides the lack of world building and those weird dream chapters, I did enjoy the book. It flowed well and was extremely engaging. I had trouble putting it down, especially in the last two days when I was near the end of the story.

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Again this book is kind of a mystery, but this one has a bit more action and other events mixed in compared to book 1. I enjoyed the action and as I said this book was gripping and hard to put down. This one also has a lot more twists and turns than book 1 and I was not expecting most of them (except that plot twist with Aydor at the end, I totally guessed that!).

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Girton, is a little annoying honestly. He is stubborn but not necessarily in a good way. He also jumps to conclusions really quickly and doesn’t always think about his actions before he does something. I also don’t feel like he has grown up, even though this book is set 5 years after the first.
I honestly don’t even see him as an assassin. Assassins need to be quick, calculating and cunning. Girton isn’t really any of these things. As I said he jumps into things without thinking all the time, which I feel like is the opposite of what he should be doing. Mesela is a good portrayal of what I feel like an assassin should be. She is cunning, intelligent, patient and waits for the right moment and never goes into something without having a reason. Girton is the opposite basically. So if you are looking for a book with an awesome assassin that does assassin like things, this is not the one for you. This is a book about war, not assassins.

The other characters in this book have changed a fair bit. Rufra, Aydor & Thomas all make appearances in this book. Thoms was my least favourite character, not because he is meant to be a kind of villain character but because he was kinda pathetic. He never even spoke for himself. He just sat there while Neander told others what he would be doing. It was really strange considering how dominant he acted in book 1. Rufra was a little more real. He was struggling with being a friend, being a king and the loss that he suffered between Age of Assassins & Blood of Assassins. You saw the struggle with basically every encounter he had with Girton.

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Overall I really enjoyed this book. There were a couple things that could use some improvement, like the world building and some of the characters. But I still had heaps of fun reading this book and it was extremely gripping! I really hope some things are explained a bit more in book 3, but by this point, it’s probably not likely. Either way, I can’t wait for book 3, King of Assassins and luckischeduledchedualed to release in August according to Goodreads, so I don’t have long to wait!

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I was provided with an eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much to Hachette Australia/Orbit NetGalley for this opportunity.

You can purchase this book at any of the below links!

Hachette Australia
Paperback  /  eBook

Book Depository
Paperback

QBD
Paperback

Booktopia
Paperback

Dymocks
Paperback

Amazon (Aus)
Kindle  /  Paperback  /  Audible

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

Lizaxx1

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

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Title: Age of Assassins
Author: 
R.J. Barker
Series Name: The Wounded Kingdom
Genre: 
Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: Aug 1st, 2017
Pages: 393 (Paperback)
Publishers: Orbit
Rating:
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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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

Lizaxx1

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