Blood of Assassins by RJ Barker
Publication date: 13 February 2018
Page count: 464 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review for Blood of Assassins, but will contain spoilers for Age of Assassins. You can read my review of the first book here.
I read Age of Assassins this summer and absolutely loved it — that book also led me to Barker’s latest book in a new series, The Bone Ships. I picked up Blood of Assassins the other month and while I didn’t love it as much as the previous book, I thought it was a fantastic sequel.
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.
Blood of Assassins takes place five years after the events of the first book. Girton has spent much of the intervening years fighting and becoming more and more jaded outside of Maniyadoc — dramatically shaping his character and shedding his youthful demeanor from the first book. Upon his return, he finds that his friend Rufra is in an unsteady position as a king at war for his crown. This shifting between the first and second book certainly leaves Girton on unsteady ground, however I really loved the way that Barker completely changed the game and kept the story fresh and interesting. There is magic (and the prevention of magic), twists, amazing action sequences, and a great mystery element.
The characterisation in this book continues to be fantastic, however Girton is a little troublesome. I totally understand where his character was coming from, but I couldn’t help but want to smack him upside the head multiple times throughout this book. This is completely intentional on Barker’s part but Girton is very hard to love in Blood of Assassins, especially given how much I loved his character in the first book. Girton is sullen, bitter, angry, and untrusting — all with very good reason. I suspect that Girton’s character arc will come full circle in the final book, and I can’t wait for that to happen.
My favourite character in Blood of Assassins was, of course, Rufra. The King of Cinnamon Rolls, Rufra is a wonderfully idealistic man who is trying his best to be good for his people despite his own troubles and turmoils. He’s a fantastic contrast to Girton in this book, particularly knowing that five years have gone by and the friends have spent those years in very different ways.
Blood of Assassins is a grim, bleak, and fantastic sequel to one of my favourite fantasy books of 2019. It is certainly a tougher read than the first book, however Barker continues to conjure a fantastic fantasy world and an amazing story. I can’t wait to finish up the series!
Want to try Blood of Assassins for yourself? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):