Title: Blood of Assassins.
Series: The Wounded Kingdom #2.
Writer(s): R.J. Barker.
Release Date: February 13th 2018.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Previously on The Wounded Kingdom:
Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker.
Taking place five years after the events in Age of Assassins, we find ourselves with a slightly more mature, yet highly troubled Girton Club-Foot who has been riddled with challenges both outside and inside of him. While trying to find a place he could call home, he slowly realizes that his life as an assassin has put him on a path where solitude is almost insurmountable. His ability to cope with the tragedies he’s faced in the past years have however brought him to embrace a darker and much more violent art of killing, and not even his master could pull him away from it. The answers he seek can only be sought by himself, through trial and error, but the ends will always dominate the means for our young man. In Blood of Assassins, R.J. Barker continues to explore a complex character through one of the most gratifying blend of mystery and fantasy in literature.
A lot has changed within half a decade of running away from those who want to put Girton and his master in a blood gibbet. Upon finally returning to Maniyadoc, a place where many unforgettable things have occurred, Girton realizes that the violence and frenzy that comes with war reigns in these lands. With three potential kings looking to claim the throne without any contenders, it was only a matter of time before Girton finds himself in front of several figures he never thought of crossing paths with again. The fact that they aren’t who they used to be comes destabilize him in many ways, as he isn’t either the assassin he used to be. But under a peculiar predicament, Girton finds himself entangled within a brand new mystery that has the life of a king threatened by unknown individuals.
R.J. Barker does a marvelous job in further developing the Wounded Kingdom, but also his protagonist. Being inside the mind of this character has allowed readers to not only see the mess in which he strays in, but also the forces with which he continuously tries to battle while staying sharp and alert in the real world. The surrogate-mother issues he has with his master, the little friendship he can embrace within the world of politics and religion, and the forgiveness he has difficulty in giving forces Girton to perpetually question every slight movement and decision, while being blinded by the rage that slowly consumes his mind. Although he doesn’t practice his art as an assassin as he used to, the effects of avoiding that way of life are easily felt in his new role within the ranks of the upper-class.
The action scenes are still as vivid and cinematic as they always have been, especially with the amount of brutality that R.J. Barker is able to integrate within the battles. And to top it off, the betrayals and plot twists greatly help immerse the reader within the danger-filled lands, but to also draw the reader closer to the characters as their shocks become the reader’s as well. What I really loved however is the doubt that permeates throughout Girton’s life and how much of it invades the readers as they attempt to solve the mysteries at hand. It’s safe to say that finding the culprit is a colossal task, but the lessons that Girton learns from this mission will drive him to acknowledge the issues he has been avoiding, but also the issues that he has let flourish too long.
Blood of Assassins is the second book in the Wounded Kingdom trilogy and clearly states that R.J. Barker is a man with a plan, and it is no plan that will be completed without death lurking by Girton’s club-foot. Next up, King of Assassins.
Thank you to Orbit for sending me a copy for review!