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

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis

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.

Review

This is the story of a war. Of a man haunted and ashamed by the things he’s done. A story of a king desperately trying to survive and claim his throne. A story of love, of loyalty to family and friends. And, as always in this series, a story of mystery and assassins.

At this point I have read the entire Wounded Kingdom Trilogy and I can say that this book was my favorite. It had a perfect blend of great pacing, character development, intrigue, world building, and amazing action sequences.

We start off this book with a 5 year time jump from where the previous book, Age of Assassins, ended. This was a bit of a shock for me at first as I had not expected it. However, R. J. Barker does an amazing job of weaving in the important details of those 5 years throughout the present day story and because of that we get believable character development. Excellently done.

I really enjoyed getting to learn more about the magic system in this one. Getting to explore it more and learn it as Girton learns it was really fun. The stakes were raised in this one as Girton struggles to learn to control his sorcery amid the strife, intrigue, and mystery that surrounds Rufra’s war camp.

Girton’s perspective was so compelling in Blood of Assassins! There were times when I wanted to scream at him to stop making stupid choices and there were other times I just wanted to give him a hug. Girton may have matured into a man, but at times he is still emotionally a boy and it shows quite frequently throughout this book. That, along with the fact that he is trying to find a mysterious assassin and spy, while trying to not get killed himself, made for an intense and gripping perspective that kept me turning pages late into the night. Girton’s relationship with his master Merela Karn was one of my favorite parts of the book. More akin to a mother and son, their bond is deep and the love they have for each other was an amazing thing to see, especially in a story that took a darker turn than its predecessor. Two other characters that I found very interesting and had a surprising amount of depth were Rufra and Aydor. The character development that R. J. Barker is able to do outside of Girton with only that one perspective continues to amaze me.

The battle sequences were as always, beautifully described. I love assassins in large part because when they fight it is like a dance and R. J. Barker is adept at describing this dance of assassins. Beyond the descriptions, there was a palpable tension and realness to this bleak world of The Tired Lands. This made the possibility that the characters you know and love may not survive all the more credible and the tension even greater throughout the entire story.

With epic battle sequences, an intriguing mystery, and heartwarming moments, Blood of Assassins has it all. If you haven’t already you need to check this series out.

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