This has been on my TBR for absolutely ages and having read most of R.J. Barker’s stuff, I thought it was about time that I went back to his earlier works.

Age of Assassins tells the story of Girton Club Foot, an apprentice assassin. Picked from the slave pens by his master Merela, Girton has grown up in her care, mastering the arts of assassination and foolery, and even though he has some disadvantage with his club foot, he is a master acrobat.

Called upon by the Queen of the Tired Lands to protect her prig of a son from a suspected assassination attempt, Girton and Merela must go undercover and immerse themselves in palace life in an attempt to foil the plot of the attempt on the prince’s life.

In order to solve the mystery, Girton becomes a squire whilst Merela uses her skills as a Jester to gain information and become what is known as Death’s Jester.

Coming to this after reading Barker’s other work prepared me for Barker’s style of writing and it was interesting to see how his debut novel stacked up against already established series. As usual, as with all R. J. Barker’s work, this was fantastic. It used tropes that you regularly see in fantasy, assassins, training and a coming of age tale, but as usual Barker put a fantastic spin on these familiar themes and makes them seem otherworldly and fresh.

The story itself is told from Girton’s perspective and mainly revolves around a mystery plot. However, don’t go expecting the typical assassination novel. As this has more in common with Robin Hobbs’ Assassin’s Apprentice, centring more on intrigue and character growth rather than Derring Do’s.

Although the main arc of the story takes place in a singular location, the Queen’s Castle, Barker manages to paint a rich picture of the world outside through a series of flashbacks which provides a backdrop to Girton’s story.

Age of Assassins is a fabulous piece of fantasy that is well worth a read if you haven’t read it. Now on to the second book.


Popular Posts