Book Review: Age of Assassins
Age of Assassins by RJ Parker, The Wounded Kingdom #1
Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land's best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince's murder.
In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom.
Age of Assassins came as a surprise for me, this book wasn't on my radar. Assassins are hands down cool. The stealthy kind of killers that leave no trace... My first introduction to reading about assassins in a series was by Brent Weeks with The Way of the Shadows, which was a remarkable experience. And which was also published by Orbit. Reading the synopsis, Age of Assassins made me wonder mainly the Club-foot part and how it would play out. Remember also the part saying "to catch an assassins, use an assassins". Kind of an cat and mouse game. Who will finish on top?
So meet Girton Club-foot. Currently assassin in training, being trained by one of the best assassins in the country. And as an apprentice still very much to learn. The story of Age of Assassins pick up at a nice pacing. Placing the apprentice and the master in a tight situation which leads to the eventual recruitment of a much bigger plan. And so the story for Girton to grow up goes into a higher gear. His master is set into Queen's Adran's court to protect the young prince, whereas Girton has to play a meek sheep and go thorugh a combat training in the castle with other boys. Both need to keep their eyes and ears open in order to catch any glimpse of the possible assassin and assassination attempt and to stop it before it happens.
Of course the story gets way more complicated that it sounds. Prince Aydor is be right a targeted man. He is sort of despicable person and Girton and his master Merela keep on adding people to the growing list...
As I mentioned above I was wondering about the Club-foot part at it turns out it is not Girton's family name but because he has a club-foot. Making you wonder first how such a boy can become an assassin though... Anyway. Girton makes it work, but for me it sounded as if RJ Parker wanted to make the character more unique and perhaps play into the hearts of the readers with a character with a flaw. For me personally it didn't necessarily needed to be there to make Girton stand out. He is a solid character to read about, highly enjoyable. The part where he had to blend in with the other castle boys and had to reign in with his skills not to reveal his true potential and skills showed much more about his personality than the club-footed part.
World building in Age of Assassins is on par. The world feels vibrant and alive. The main story in the castle is followed and intertwined by several flashbacks of Girton. The interludes show some the early days of Merela and Girton which adds a ton of backstory to both characters. It's these small things that give Age of Assassins an definite edge.
Ages of Assassins runs from the get-go. Full of action, emotion and intrigue!