Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom #2)

31933093“Maybe I should have taken the hand of Dark Ungar and sacrificed myself for knowledge. I could have saved so many that I would come to care about. But I did not.”

Author: RJ Barker
Category: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Grimdark
Pages: 438
Publication Date: February 13th, 2018 (UK), February 27th, 2018 (US)

Amazon — Barnes & Noble — Book Depository

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A big thank you to them and to RJ Barker who was kind enough to come on our podcast for an interview!

Minor spoilers for Age of Assassins.

Blood of Assassins picks up five years after the events in Age of Assassins. Girton and his master, Merela, have been travelling as mercenaries for those five years while Maniyadoc has been at war with three men vying for kingship over the land.

I liked Age of Assassins. I loved Blood of Assassins.

First of all, I found myself far more invested in the characters. The main character, Girton Club-Foot, stole the show for me.

Where I enjoyed Girton’s character in the first book, I felt like he was much more deeply explored as a character in this one. He is angry and struggling to keep his magic from taking over him while also dealing with the emotional turmoil of the possibility of his master’s death. He got really angsty and was quick to make assumptions but I enjoyed getting frustrated with him. Girton showed himself to be very intelligent in the first book so there was a part of me that wanted to trust his intuition and accusations but another part that saw that he was being a bit stupid so I this kind of kept me on my toes as to whether or not to trust his decisions.

Girton was the only character that really went through any major changes in this book but some others did clearly develop in the interim between the first and second book. Rufra has had to figure out what his role as king means in terms of how he must present himself to his subjects and has had his share of heartbreak over the course of the war. While he is still the same person from the first book, he has grown.

Aydor as well is almost a completely different person. This is probably one of the few things that I did not completely love about the book though. He changed so much that he is pretty much a totally different character and, as a reader, we saw none of it. It all happened in between the books so all we see is the final product. I know it would have taken up quite a page count to really make the change “on screen” but I would have liked to see his transition.

That said though, meeting Aydor again and seeing his altered personality happened very early in the book while I was still reacquainting myself with the world so it wasn’t too disconcerting.

The story itself is that of warring kings and it lives up to that. This book does very much have the same mystery aspect as the first did. They mystery is a classic fantasy mystery of “who is the traitor amongst us?” and I just had a really good time attempting to guess at who it was.

As far as battles go, I really enjoyed the “final” battle of this book and I am one that occasionally tends to skim over battle sequences. I devoured every word.

There is intrigue, death, epic battles; all the things that fantasy fans love. Blood of Assassins raises the bar from its predecessor in delving deeper into the minds of its characters and raising the stakes for failure and success. I absolutely loved this and cannot wait for the final book.

Rating:

9-loved it!

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