The king is dead, long live the king…
The assassin Girton Club-foot and his master have returned to Maniyadoc in hope of finding sanctuary, but death, as always, dogs Girton’s heels. The place he knew no longer exists.
War rages across Maniyadoc, with three kings claiming the same crown – and one of them is Girton’s old friend Rufra. Girton finds himself hurrying to uncover a plot to murder Rufra on what should be the day of the king’s greatest victory. But while Girton deals with threats inside and outside Rufra’s war encampment, he can’t help wondering if his greatest enemy hides beneath his own skin.
“Don’t be a slave to old hatreds, Girton. People change, remember that. Forgiveness is its own reward.”
The above quote sets out the tone and theme for this sequel. This sequel takes place 5 years after the events of the first book (Age of Assassins). Again, it was told in the point of view of the main character, Girton Club-Foot, an assassin apprentice (under the tutelage of his master, Merela Karn) who was in the midst of accepting his identity as a sorcerer and controlling his powers.
I am rather annoyed by Girton’s character in this book. But in a good way. I love flawed characters and Girton definitely falls under this category of characters. Girton made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions/judgments throughout the book. In short, Girton is just being super emo (like a normal rebellious teenager). I love the fact that RJ Barker explored Girton’s emotions and inner conflict in greater detail whereby he was having trust issues with Aydor, the Landsmen, the foreign healer Mastal. Such trust issues arise from Girton’s personal hatred and towards the end of the book, we learn that such mistrust was misplaced. RJ Barker further explored into the friendship of Girton and Rufra (who is now a king) and his acceptance of Rufra’s position as a ruler and not merely his childhood friend. We then see Girton’s rebellious attitude towards his master which led to certain conflicts between him and Merela Karn. We also see how Girton fought against his desire to use his uncontrolled magic and finally decided to suppress it by seeking his master’s help. RJ Barker’s detailed characterization of Girton really stands out in this book.
Another character which shines throughout this book is Nywulf. He is taking on the role of a leader, mentor and strategist. His capability as a strategist and leader shines during the battle against the Nonmen at Gwyre. I am so sad when RJ Barker decided to “kill” him at the end of the story!
While I had some pacing issues with the first part of the book, the second part of the book is definitely very engaging when the murder mystery was solved and battles were fought against the enemies. I am also not sure why RJ Barker spent some chapters in detailing Girton’s dreams and I really feel like skipping those chapters sometimes as I think they were rather out of place. I also had a problem with the magic system of this series. While sorcerers were constantly mentioned, and the fact that Girton is slowly discovering and learning to control his powers, I thought RJ Barker will explore the magic system of this series further in this book. But no. I was left unsatisfied and wondering how does the magic works in this series. Due to these flaws , i decided to give a rating of 4./5 star for this book. If not, it will easily hit a 5 star read! No doubt, Blood of Assassins is one of the best sequels that I have read!