The Wounded Kingdom #1
by R.J. Barker
Published on August 1, 2017 by Orbit
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
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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.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
You look like you need a new fantasy to read. Yes? Perhaps I can convince you to read Age of Assassins? I’ll be honest, I took a chance on this book because, although I love fantasy, it’s been hit or miss for me lately but I’m excited to announce this was a “hit!”
At first, the first person point-of-view was a bit off-putting. It’s one of those things, much like the genre’s been lately, where I either really like it or I don’t. Took some getting used to but I soon fell into Girton’s story.
The teen assassin is an interesting character. For starters, he has a club foot and the disability presented does act as a small obstacle here and there. I’ve never read a book where the progatonist has a disability of any kind so I really liked that Barker showed that kind of representation in this book because Girton is pretty awesome. It didn’t define his character, but was a part of him and I think that’s an important message to send.
Because Girton is an assassin in a book about catching an assassin. Which, I was expecting more fantasy trope-y assassin stuff but I didn’t get it but also I’m not disappointed? Instead, there’s plenty of mystery and political intrigue and all that good, gritty fantasy stuff that I also love. Barker did a great job of taking your typical fantasy world with all the different problems that tend to go along with a kingdom and dove into the shadows and grime. It’s not a light, upbeat fantasy, but it felt real. It was very easy to fall down this rabbit hole.
I think part of this is because the book doesn’t have a massive cast of point-of-view characters. So often I see books get too ambitious. The plot tackles a million different storylines and I never really get to know the characters unless the book is 800+ pages long. There are exceptions but I liked that Age of Assassins stayed focused on one character and gave him a depth and life that I don’t see as often.
Finally, the writing. Like I said, it didn’t hook me right away. The style just didn’t… click with me, not until later on. But the way Barker brings together the intricate world-building with the character development and all the mysteries really worked well. I didn’t feel like I was on the edge of my seat but the fight scenes flowed well, the plot twists surprised me appropriately, and the ending was satisfying while also setting up for a sequel.
For a fantasy debut, this is one that y’all need to keep an eye out for. I think this is the start of a fabulous new series!