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Publisher's Summary

To save a King, kill a 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.

The Wounded Kingdom trilogy begins with Age of Assassins, continues with Blood of Assassins and will continue with King of Assassins.

©2018 RJ Barker (P)2018 Little, Brown Book Group

Critic Reviews

"Reveals its mysteries with the style of a magic show and the artful grace of a gifted storyteller." (Nicholas Eames, author of Kings of the Wyld)

"Outstanding...Kept me reading well into the early hours of the morning." (James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was Lost)

"Dead gods, dread magic, and a lead that feels like a breath of fresh air. Great fun." (Peter Newman, author of The Vagrant)

What listeners say about Blood of Assassins

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ruben K.
  • Ruben K.
  • 25-03-2021

It was OK i guess...

Compared to the 1st book this was less exciting, a bit tedious, and just a bit lacking. The main character got go be quite annoying and even the mayor revelations were... quite boring. All a bit Tropish.

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  • Andrew hall
  • 02-10-2020

Blood, blades, and battles.

TLDR: An older Girton is thrown back into the machinations of the kingdom, but this time around we get a lot more bang for our buck. A solid improvement and a solid book.

The book sees us once again reunited with Girton Club-Foot, a trained assassin who has been in hiding with his master since the events of Book 1 (though why they actually needed to disappear for 5 whole years is beyond me, considering what actually happened). So now we reacquaint ourselves with Girton as a 20-year-old, a young man where before he was an angsty teen, only now the angst has been replaced by something darker, and for once, I can truly believe that. He’s not evil, but he’s been through some shit, and that shit has left rather nasty stains upon his soul in some of the most believable character development I’ve ever come across. Again, this book didn’t speak to me personally as much as it would to listeners who like the more introspective novels, but by the dead gods, the fleshing out of Girton’s character was done well.
There’s more action in this book than Barker’s last foray into the Wounded Kingdom, and I for one am very pleased to see it. The entire backdrop of the book is war, which really tickled the military fiction fan I am at heart, but it certainly wasn’t constant. Once again, the story is very much situated around Girton and his relationships with those around him, and the war just happens to be going on. I still have the same issues with this book as I had with the last, though to a lesser degree. Again, there was very little exploration of the well-crafted world that Barker had created, but that’s Barker’s style and I can’t fault him for it. He produces a beautiful narrative with real, living and breathing characters within it. It’s just my personal preferences that lead me to want to see more of this world than we are shown through the eyes of Girton alone. The reignited friendship that forms the heart of this book is a joy to listen to, and the toing and froing that you are dragged through as you are constantly on edge about Girton’s dark secret coming to light is the ever-present anvil that keeps the story pumping. There are slow parts to be sure, but they are better paced than the last book and often ended with rather satisfying climaxes.
There was one plot device that sprang up fairly immediately in the story that had me growning with despair. It didn’t make sense and made that logical part of my brain slam its face against the bars of my sanity, but without giving too much away, it was explained entirely to my satisfaction by the novel’s end and I back-peddled all the mean things I was of a mind to say about it. Again, the novel is more of a murder mystery than it is the epic fantasy adventures that I love so much. It’s not a bad thing if these are the kinds of books you love, but that just isn’t the novel I kept hoping this would turn out to be.
Overall, the book was a decent improvement on the last. The ending was satisfying, tense, and left me very pleased that I had given Book 2 a try after not being so blown away by Book 1. As before, my personal score won’t give the book the justice that its quality deserves, but I blame that entirely on Barker for building such an interesting world and refusing to let me explore it more.
Narration was once again top-notch. The aging of the characters between Books 1 and 2 was worked beautifully into the changes in the voices and tones while leaving them unmistakably the same people as in the previous book. I’ve got a lot of time for good accents, of which this reading was full of, and the emotion of each character really came through. Another sterling performance by Joe Jameson.

Personal score: 3.75 stars.
Professional score: 4 stars.

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  • Mr
  • 30-08-2019

Didn't think it was as good as book 1?

Slow start and nearly gave up and returned for credit but improved as went along. Didn't enjoy as much as book 1 but overall a good development of the tale.

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  • Barry
  • 07-02-2019

Unputdownable.

From start to finish, I really enjoyed this story. More pace than book one. It gets better and better.

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  • Shirl
  • 01-10-2018

gripping from start to finish

continuing the tale book 2 surpasses book 1. narration is excellent. gripping fron start to finish!

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  • J. Hunter
  • 16-09-2018

Solid 2nd book

Excellent continuation of Girton story, great narration once again. This series is definitely worth a go if you enjoy character driven stories

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Swords and Spectres
  • 25-06-2018

A good continuation of the story

Blood of Assassins takes place a few years after the events of Age of Assassins. Rufra is now king (one of them anyway) and is fighting for his right to be called king over all the lands. Blood of Assassins has, at the same time, a very similar feel to it and yet a very different one to Age of Assassins.

I know, that’s kind of a paradox. On the one hand, Girton being a detective to solve another murder/assassination attempt style plotline rears its head. I was sat there thinking ‘Is RJ Barker a one-trick pony? Is it not possible for anything to happen without Girton having to solve a (the same kind) of crime in both books? Is he going to flog the same dead horse in book three and get Girton to solve yet another killing? Fortunately, the whole ‘Detective Girton’ part is done in a totally different way and has a fresh feel to it. Although, saying that, I’d still like for it to not happen in the third book. As the idea does get a bit stale when thinking about it.

The character building/character progression with Girton from the first book to this one is done very well. In book one, he is very much sheltered from the majority of the world by his master; so much so that everything seems new and wonderful to the poor young cripple. However, in book two, he takes on more of a moody teenage boy filled with angst and distrust at the world around him. He’s also a tad selfish. I actually found myself disliking both him and his thought process for large parts. If the world around him isn’t doing something to include or benefit him, he tends to disagree with it or actively try and stop things happening. Why should other people have their happiness, right?

That being said, as much of a moody, annoying little drama queen that he is; Girton is still fairly loveable for the most part. He can’t help the way he is and it was probably my fault as a reader for not realising that sooner. The author does a good job of explaining the broken background he comes from and, to be fair, any kid raised as a killer is going to be a little fragmented in the old brain department.

The other characters, both supporting and main cast, all have excellent character growth/progression as well. At times it feels almost Stephen King-ish the way the characters are developed. Just a slightly faster way than Mr King that doesn’t require 1,400 pages. I found myself intrigued by their desires/plots for revenge against former friends or brothers, romances etc … It just felt refreshing to care about a host of characters’ wishes rather than just the main character’s (who, as you have probably already guessed, wasn’t high on my ‘I want you to succeed in your hopes and dreams’ category).

Emotions is the final point I’ll touch on. R.J Barker does a great job of making you feel a whole range of them across both books. From hope to expectation, to bitterness and despair, all the way to grieving and loss. Nobody, be they primary, secondary or tertiary character is exempt from a bit of happiness and a dollop of misery.

As a whole, I came away feeling very satisfied with the story and am looking forward to seeing where the tale goes and how the characters progress along their various different plot-arcs. But, for the love of God, please let Girton do something other than become Sherlock Holmes where a murder is concerned in the third book.

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  • TClews
  • 09-05-2018

A series that will stay with me forever.

When I listen to or read anything by R.J it reminds me of one thing only. Robin Hobb, if that isn't enough of a reason to check this series our I don't know what is.

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  • Paul
  • 30-04-2018

Good effort for a 2nd book

It starts slow but gets moving a third of the way in. It is actually more of a who done it that you would have expected

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  • Luke Beckett
  • 21-03-2018

Harder read than the first but definitely well worth it

I went on to this straight after the first in the series as I had enjoyed it so much.
This was a bit more difficult than the first one, mainly because Gerten has changed quite a lot from the first book.

You know when you’re reading Harry Potter 5 and he’s being an insufferable tool for most of the book, flying off the handle for no reason and generally being horrid to everyone, including the people trying to help him? And you know it’s because he’s got PTSD from seeing a friend die, and because he’s a teenager trying to deal with devastating personal tragedy, so you can understand... but it also doesn’t make it any easier to read!
Well it’s exactly like that - except the anger and the violence are magnified ten fold by the bleak, hard and dangerous setting that the author has created here.
I found that hard going and shouted at Gerten a lot of times as I was driving around listening, but it is all worth it in the end.
I still ploughed through the whole thing in 4 days because I so wanted to know what happened. The characters are getting deeper, the story more complex and rewarding. This is a great series, with a haunting setting and some richly drawn social attitudes based on their environment. I’m really looking forward to hearing the next one.

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