Title: King of Assassins.
Series: The Wounded Kingdom #3.
Writer(s): R.J. Barker.
Release Date: August 7th 2018.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Previously on The Wounded Kingdom:
Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker.
Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker.
The Wounded Kingdom trilogy has grown to be one of the most enthralling excavation of a young assassin’s place in the world as he slowly discovers who he is and what he is capable of whilst protecting those who he loves the most from those who want nothing more than death, but also from himself. From deadly confrontations to heartbreaking revelations, the story never seized to play with its reader’s emotions from cover to cover. But what truly stands out of this series is how quintessential emotions are in this universe. With King of Assassins, R.J. Barker delivers what will probably go down as an exquisite finale to a fantasy trilogy in recent years.
King of Assassins continues the story of assassin Girton Club-Foot in the realm of Maniyadoc and Ceadoc. Taking place countless years after the events in Blood of Assassins, the cast of friends and foes have aged and gained wisdom at the cost of lives that they’ve cherished with all their heart. Once a learning amateur of the arts of being an assassin, he is now fulfilling a role his master would be proud of as circumstances have stolen her own ability to be as cunning and stealthy as she once was. Girton’s adventures have however only reached new depth and stakes with the murders that are about to pervade his life. The story now pushes its exploration of politics even further by looking at the rise of a High-King, a throne reserved to an individual who will serve as the ultimate ruler of the kingdom.
In King of Assassins, the reader is quickly drawn back into this world of kings, assassins and jesters, as they all play out their roles as a facade to their true intentions hidden from the public eye. As one of those rare fantasy stories that puts a heavier accent on mystery and suspense, this final book of the trilogy isn’t an exception and continues its exploration of Girton’s moral code and dilemmas. What’s most stunning is how Girton’s grasp of his relationships with other is as complex as his own understanding of his identity. As friends become foes, and foes become friends, his struggle to understand who to trust while also to identify the threat is only half the fun. However, it is safe to say that R.J. Barker’s characterization game is on point.
Although I found those interlude chapters, also known as dream sequences, a bit too odd to get into, they did add a whole level of complexity to the narrative with hints of the past and of mystical lore. While character development, politics and mystery were center-stage in this story, the action scenes weren’t neglected at all with R.J. Barker’s wonderful description of battles. From all-out confrontations, sneak attacks to the dance of blades between assassins with various special iterations, it is always a pleasure to see how his prose manages to capture the essence of a battle and all the intensity of it. In the end, the story shows readers its true colours and highlights every character’s internal struggle while having control on the external dynamics of politics.
King of Assassins is a marvelous finale to a trilogy that draws out some of the most emotional moments in the coldest of hearts.
Thank you to Orbit for sending me a copy for review!