Review: Blood of Assassins by RJ Barker

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😍 love it!

This was a NetGalley request that I really couldn’t not request immediately. I really liked Age of Assassins. It was on my Best of 2017 list! Girton Club-Foot was a fantastic character to read about, and I couldn’t wait to hear more of his story.

And so, this review is brought to you by RJ Barker, Orbit, NetGalley, and coffee. Thank you to all of you for this read!

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.

I fitted in nowhere. Not with my master, who kept secrets and now sweated, close to death in bed. Not with Rufra, who I barely recognised, and not with his men, who were a tightly knit group where I could only ever be an outsider, a spy.

This volume takes place five years after the end of Age of Assassins. Girton Club-Foot and his master Marela Karn are returning to Maniyadoc after several years of absence, and on the way, they get into a scrap with some bounty hunters out for the price on their heads and Girton’s master gets poisoned. Badly. Luckily, they’re close enough to Maniyadoc that one of the three kings who are at constant war in the area picks him up and offers him help. Weirdly, it’s the last person he expects to help him. But, it turns out that they showed up with some impeccable timing, as his best friend Rufra, one of the three kings, is in grave danger, and it’s up to Girton to puzzle out who the traitor in his war camp is. On top of everything else, Girton is struggling to control the magic inside of him, and with his master out of commission, he can’t rely on her help. Shenanigans ensue!

This was one of those books that was really difficult to put down once I picked it up. It’s not overly long, as fantasy books go, which I often find refreshing, and it’s quite gripping. The plot grabs on and takes you on an adventure pretty much immediately. Girton and Rufra and their friendship was the highlight of Age of Assassins for me, and so their reunion made me smile. Nonetheless, Girton (and Rufra, for that matter) has changed. He’s older, and has spent the last five years as, more or less, a mercenary (battling rather in the open rather than in the shadows). He’s seen some shit now, and it does show from time to time in Girton’s mood… he has an increasingly short temper these days. With his master out of commission for the most part, he’s also on his own, and it shows, because he’s definitely more inclined to rush into things without thinking about them from every angle. He doesn’t have Marela there to smack him upside the head when he’s being lead by his emotions. He’s given up his stabsword (best weapon name ever) for a warhammer, and at first, the reason why left me curious, because an assassin with a warhammer seems odd. You do find out the reasoning behind it though. You find a lot out throughout the story that is only hinted at in the beginning.

There are mysteries and murder, battles and murder, and mounts (and murder). Oh, the mounts though. I was afraid right at the beginning that we wouldn’t get to see Xus (Marela’s goddamned awesome mount) again, but then he was there in all his clawed, tusked, and antlered glory. Biting, goring, and skewering his way into the hearts of many. Never change, you magnificent beast! <3<3<3

There is, like in Age of Assassins, a mystery in this volume as well, and it was well plotted. I, who will try and guess at things with varying levels of success, was unable to guess at it, and so the ending, with all its revelations was quite riveting. The pacing was great, and I was never bored with the plot. There were parts that legitimately made my eyes go wide, and a part or two where I had some feels reverberating, and maybe a tear or two well up. There was quite a few ‘Oh, Girton….’ moments- whether they be in a good or bad way, I will leave for you to find out. There is also (and I say this having read an early ebook, so I can only imagine how neat it will look in print.) some excellent use of text formatting in one of the ‘in between the events happening’ chapters (like Age of Assassins had) where Girton is dreaming of or remembering the past. A feeling like falling. Down, and down, and down. 10/10 use of space.

All told, I thought the book was fantastically done, and certainly a good addition to this series!

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Last time, it was Yakul… but there are other awesome antlered beasts that Xus reminds me of (yes, of course it’s a Pokemon!) Click for source!

I really liked it. Loved it, even. Like I loved Age of Assassins. It was really, really close either way. So far, this is my favorite read of this year! ;D I can’t wait to find out how this story ends. I bet it’s going to be bonkers! 5 stabby stabs out of 5!

You can see this book on goodreads here, and buy it on amazon here (it’s out February 13th!)

Thanks again to Orbit via NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book!~

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