THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING . . .
Many years of peace have passed in Maniyadoc, years of relative calm for the assassin Girton Club-Foot. Even the Forgetting Plague, which ravaged the rest of the kingdoms, seemed to pass them by. But now Rufra ap Vthyr eyes the vacant High-King’s throne and will take his court to the capital, a rat’s nest of intrigue and murder, where every enemy he has ever made will gather and the endgame of twenty years of politics and murder will be played out in his bid to become the King of all Kings.
Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and the god of death, Xus the Unseen, stands closer than ever – casting his shadow over everything most dear to Girton.
The 3rd and final volume (and in my view, the best volume) of the Wounded Kingdom series picked up approximately 15 years after the incidents in the Blood of Assassins. In the span of 15 years, while all the main characters have grown up, we learned that the dynamics and relationship between the main characters have changed drastically: the relationship between Girton (now the best assassin in the world) and Rufra (King of Maniyadoc who is aiming for the position of High King) turns sour; Girton and Aydor (previously an enemy of Girton and Rufra in the first book but has then aligned himself with Girton and Rufra in the second book) are now the best of friends.
Characters wise, I personally think that Girton is one of the best characters in a fantasy series that have been written. In the span of 3 books, we followed Griton’s journey, mentality, personality and character development as a child (in the first book), a teenager (in the second book) and an adult (in the third book). It was so well done and you can only appreciate Girton’s character after finishing this series! I enjoyed Girton and Aydor’s relationship in this book. Aydor is one of the characters that I hated a lot in the first book but I loved this character in the third book. We can see so much growth in Aydor’s character throughout the series. Rufra on the other hand, is a character that I loved in the first book but hated so much in the third book. Rufra’s ambition has changed him and his friendship with Girton. As the saying in the book goes, “The Tired Lands are a harsh land, and they will take a lot from a man who is ruling or second to the throne”.
Not only the characters, the politicking and conspiracies shine throughout this book. There is a little bit of a “game of thrones” feeling in this book as Girton was tasked to assist Rufra to win the new hing kingship as well as to solve the mystery of the killings that are happening in Ceadoc. Flowing therefrom, the conspiracy in the competition for the new high kingship starts to unravel itself. The plot of this book is definitely more fast paced than the first 2 books. There are so many unexpected plot twists and heart breaking moments when we reached the end of the book!
I previously commented on the Interlude chapters for the first 2 books, which I think they are unnecessary. However, the Interlude chapters in this book make so much sense! From these Interlude chapters, we learned the past of Merela Karn (Girton’s master) as well as her relationship with Queen Adran (the antagonist in the first book). I definitely enjoyed these Interlude chapters more than the ones in the first 2 books!
All in all, RJ Barker did a great job in ending the series. The series started off so strongly and ended with an epic punch! This book totally deserve a 5/5 star rating and RJ Barker has just become one of my favorite authors!