Title: King of Assassins
Author: RJ Barker
Publisher: Orbit, August
Blurb: THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING . . .
Many years of peace have passed in Maniyadoc, years of relative calm for the assassin Girton Club-Foot. Even the Forgetting Plague, which ravaged the rest of the kingdoms, seemed to pass them by. But now Rufra ap Vthyr eyes the vacant High-King’s throne and will take his court to the capital, a rat’s nest of intrigue and murder, where every enemy he has ever made will gather and the endgame of twenty years of politics and murder will be played out in his bid to become the King of all Kings.
Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and the god of death, Xus the Unseen, stands closer than ever – casting his shadow over everything most dear to Girton.
**ARC received from Orbit books in exchange for honest review**
It’s been two days since I’ve finished reading this book and I’m still not sure how to properly articulate how good it was; how brilliant of an ending to such a fantastic trilogy Barker created here.
When I first started this book–hold on, let me back up. When I first received this book in the mail as a review copy, thanks to Orbit (seriously, Paula, thank you), I squealed a bit and then rushed to show my boyfriend, saying, “Look at the size of it,” before promptly running and finding the first two books in the trilogy to prove to him that this third one was even longer and I was all for it.
(Of course, he just started making lewd jokes, as one does, not realizing how exciting this moment actually was.)
But, as I was saying: I read the first fifty pages before my boyfriend got home one day and then we went out to dinner; a dinner which I spent quite a bit of time ranting to him about what had happening in those first fifty pages, including [spoiler]’s death that hurt me more than it should and [redacted] acting like a total twat (and even though I’m meant to not judge him so harshly, based off the author’s note at the end, but his behavior really irked me in this novel, especially with his treatment of Girton and how drastically different it felt from the first two books). My poor boyfriend just sat and listened, even though he had no idea what was going on, as I ranted and raved and ended up slumping in my chair by the end, saying, “You just don’t understand how good this book is and I just started reading it.”
Friends, he is lucky he was off playing DnD when I finished the last 100 pages.
Because I really would have just blubbered and tried to come up with coherent sentences and failed. I just don’t think I can do this book justice (as evident with this review, right? It’s sorta going nowhere, even though I positively loved this novel).
I think, my favorite part about this trilogy as a whole, is how much time passes throughout the entire story and how much growth we see in these characters. I can distinctly see how each one grew and evolved and changed (and not always for the better)–Girton especially and his evolution was perhaps my favorite to witness. I’m proud of who he became and the choices he made, despite everything he experienced and everything the world threw at him.
It was not a small amount, on either count.
The Interludes in King of Assassins killed me. Barker wove so much emotion and so much empathy into a few chapters sprinkled throughout the books that I was left floored every time. I never knew that about her (obviously) but learning what we did and all those threads coming together made the ending just that more…I dunno, gut-wrenching, honestly.
It was the weirdest thing, finishing this novel: it’s like my heart shattered yet become whole all at the same time. I think that’s the best way to explain it, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The details in this novel were top-notch, just like they have always been in Barker’s writing. Visceral and unrelenting. The twists and turns were brilliant. I didn’t catch them at all, had no idea the book would end as it did. Perhaps others might catch on more quickly, recognize the pieces and put the puzzle together better than I could, but for me, it was a complete shock, one which I enjoyed immensely. And yet, with the epilogue, there were scenes which were eluded to that I would have given anything to see in-scene, rather than being told it happened and witnessing the ramifications after the fact. But it also worked, so perfectly, being revealed as it was. To witness those moments in-scene would have been another book entirely, I reckon.
Not that I’d be complaining, honestly.
If you’ve read the first two books in The Wounded Kingdom, King of Assassins is the perfect conclusion. Personally, I think it’s the best book of the three. It’s the unique voice and vibrant setting you’ve come to expect from these stories, with characters both new and old to grow attached to, paired with a conclusion of epic proportions that doesn’t disappoint in any way.
In finishing a trilogy, I can’t imagine asking more than that.