Blood of Assassins magnificently transitioned The Wounded Kingdom into a much darker series in an awesome way.
Girton and his master have been living as a mercenary for five years since the end of the event in Age of Assassins. The past five years experience has changed or repressed Girton’s personality to something worse. This sequel was a much darker book than its predecessor; at times I feel like it totally belongs in the grimdark genre due to how grey the moral code of Girton was. Barker strengthened his storytelling skill in this installment by making sure the story was unpredictable, full of intense twists and turns, and the entirety of the book to focus heavily on the theme of redemption and prejudices against sorcerer/magic. Plus, the murder mystery aspect in the book also was much more engaging to follow than before.
“Don’t be a slave to old hatreds, Girton. People change, remember that. Forgiveness is its own reward.”
That particular line above holds a lot of weight because it pretty much summed up what the theme of the book was. Now, this doesn’t mean that the novel was a light-hearted or hopeful one; the tone of the book was darker due to Girton’s character development. I’m honestly amazed by how good Barker’s characterization writing in this book was, and that doesn’t exclusively apply to Girton; whether you liked his development or not. Believe me, Girton will most likely infuriate you; I’ll be completely surprised if he doesn’t because as far as I know, I’m pretty sure the majority of readers and the author himself wanted to slap him. Think of Fitz’s stupidity, multiply that by ten and that should give you an insight on how maddening Girton can be. Girton was rash, impulsive, selfish, and extremely paranoid. However, somehow Barker managed to make sure that Girton’s thoughts were well-conveyed that I can’t help but be invested into reading his journey. Girton needed to grow up and fight his inner demons, as always, this kind of mental journey won’t be a smooth ride as friendship, loyalty, and forgiveness will be tested over and over again. There were also plenty of awesome unpredictable character developments that I can’t mention due to spoilers reasons; let me just say that Barker took me by surprise with what he did towards one character I highly despise in the first installment.
“There is no greater teacher than hard lessons, Girton. And your lessons have been harder than most.”
I mentioned that I wanted more battle sequences because in my opinion Barker really handled his action scenes beautifully and guess what? I got what I want in this installment. Warhammer strike, the piercing arrow, the elegant sword dances, tension-packed duel, and siege; Barker handled all of it greatly. Blood of Assassins truly lived up to its title and now, if you want an action-packed assassin killing scenes, you’ll get what you want in this book. The action sequences in the book kept me fully immersed and all the battles were vividly imagined in my head due to how well-written each movement of the battle was.
There were a bit of pacing issue I had with the first half of the book and I was mildly bored during some section. However, the second half of the book totally redeemed everything and made the book a read that kept me on the edge of my seat as my thoughts kept on wondering towards the dilemma of “will he do it or not?” and “what will happen next?”
I don’t have much more to say, this book ended up better than I thought it would be. I still can’t believe how incredibly overlooked this trilogy is; both two books so far received 4.5 stars from me and I will immediately continue to read the last book of the trilogy. Blood of Assassins was a great sequel that retained all the great parts of the first book and improved upon almost every single thing in it; truly spectacular and a complete roller coaster ride. Highly recommended!
You can order the book HERE!