THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING
A huge thank you to Orbit for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Fifteen years after the events of Blood of Assassins, a plague has swept through the Wounded Kingdom leaving many dead, including the high king and his family, leaving the line of succession unclear. There will be a vote to determine the next high king and Rufra is one of the front-runners so naturally, someone is out to kill him and his family.
The absolute best thing about this series is how well it blends fantasy and mystery. There is plenty of action to be had with some fantastic fight scenes but the trilogy really centers around its mysteries.
Girton is in his 30s now which is so strange to think as he was a teenager when we first met him in Age of Assassins and he was just a little baby assassin! In Blood of Assassins, he went through a bit of an angst-y phase and made some mistakes but now he has learned from those mistakes and has reached his full potential as an assassin and Death’s Jester. The years have left a rift between himself and Rufra and while he laments the loss of that close friendship throughout out the book, he never let his frustration lead him to taking stupid risks, which is something that I think BoA Girton would absolutely have done.
And we finally learned more about Merela’s past! I loved her story and for a little bit thought it was going someplace that I was really not expecting.
I have to say though, I felt like there were some missed opportunities for storytelling.
There was a hint of a possibility at the end of the flashbacks that showed us Merela’s past that seemed like it was going somewhere dark and heartbreaking…but amazing. In the end though it just…didn’t I kept waiting for this thing to materialize and instead it kind of petered off in the space of a few sentences.
And on one hand, don’t get me wrong, the scene with those few sentences is beautiful and I might have teared up a little (just a little). But Merela continued to change as a person after the end of the flashbacks and I felt like those changes were told rather than shown.
The only other example I have of missed storytelling has to do with one of the mysteries of the book. The solution to it was given almost off-hand at the tail end of the story after the big climax. The solution and ending to that particular plot line would have been amazing to watch it unfold. The facts of the story are so fantastic but it read in a “sum up so we can end the book” kind of way rather than actually taking the reader through the events.
I know this may all have been because the book is 500 pages long as is so some things had to be trimmed down but I can’t help feeling like I was missing parts of the end.
I have kind of ranted a little bit here but ultimately this was a great end to this trilogy and I high recommend reading the entire series if you have not started on it already. RJ Barker is on my “auto-buy” list and I cannot wait to see what he is writing next.