Review: Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom #2) by RJ Barker

Rating: ★★★★★

Thanks to Orbit and Hachette Audio for my review copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I believe my review makes our third review of Blood of Assassins on the blog and we all loved it.

Blood of Assassins is the second in RJ Barker’s The Wounded Kingdom trilogy, so if you haven’t read Age of Assassins then rectify that situation!

Synopsis

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.

Review

Blood of Assassins vaulted Girton high up on my list of favorite POV reads, somewhere in the Jaime Lannister/Jorg Ancrath neighborhood (though he is not very similar to either of those characters). Girton’s character progression is marvelous, making me cheer for him and feel frustrated by him at the same time. I think RJ put it best:

Thank you! (The working title was ‘Girton needs a slap.’)— RJ Barker (@dedbutdrmng) April 24, 2019

Girton Clubfoot is a lot of fun to read, though if you loved the young, naive Girton from book 1 you’re in for a rude awakening. Girton in Blood of Assassins is older, stronger, and more capable, but like any young adult he thinks that he knows everything. Some of his methods to do right by Rufra, to protect his Master, and to seek out the spies in Rufra’s war camp have good intentions but ultimately lead him to a place where all of his plans collapse on himself and on others. He is at times arrogant, petulant, and so cocksure of his own capability that he puts innocent lives in danger.

Something else that I enjoyed was exploring more of Girton’s connection to the magic of the land. We’ve already seen what mages can do in Girton’s world, and seeing him touch the surface of the otherworldly powers that lie hidden feels dangerous. On that note, I appreciate the angle that Barker takes on magic in the series. Often in fantasy, magic users are revered and held in high regard in both society and government. In Maniyadoc though, even a child seeing you use magic can end in a slow, painful death. They do love their blood gibbets.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I can’t get into too many details, but there is a poisoning, a siege, two duels to the death (just… wow on both of those scenes), sprinkled with fun bits along the way.

Ador was a shining star in this book. I’ll leave the reasons why for you to discover, but the Fat Bear was so much fun and enjoyed an interesting and often surprising character progression.

I’m already through about half of King of Assassins and I’m loving it too. Looking forward to more from RJ Barker!

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