The Nitty-Gritty Details
Title: Age of Assassins
Author: R.J. Barker
Publisher: Orbit Books, August 2017
Blurb: Girton Club-Foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.
In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies, Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom.
(Warning: spoilers are hinted at towards the end of this review)
So, let me start off with a story about how this book came into my hands.
I discovered Barker through Twitter, because he followed/interacted with some authors that I adore (i.e., Melissa Caruso), so I started following him and his blog. One day, a new blog post from him came up on my WordPress feed and I gave it a read. It detailed a contest to win a copy of Age of Assassins, if you could guess how one copy he owned met it’s demise: by water, by coffee (I think this was one of the options?) or cat’s pee.
Because I’m an inept Luddite half of the time, I can’t find the tweet I sent in to enter, nor Barker’s response that I won (which, I saw a few days after he posted it, because I suck that much at social media; but also, *still squeeing*). I also don’t have a picture of the wonderfully signed first page, which included a drawing of the culprit that made it possible for me to get a gifted copy of this book, because I forgot to take a picture this morning.
(I really suck at technology, friends.)
Then, of course, when the book arrived in the mail, I had a stack from the library that I had to get through, especially since I’d already maxed out on renewals (…twice). So it took me a hot minute before I actually opened up the book and delved into the world of Girton Club-Foot, assassin who never really got to know what it was like to be a boy–and struggles to balance the two roles when he has an opportunity to play the boy while being required to be the assassin-in-hiding.
Oh wow, what a journey that was.
I won’t lie: at first, I was a little wary. The writing style was…unlike anything I’d ever read before. I don’t think I can accurately describe it, but it was unique enough to catch me off-guard, if only for a few chapters. Once I got accumulated to such a strong and unique voice and realized how right it was for Girton’s character and personality, suddenly, every lunch break just wasn’t quite long enough.
Particularly the lunch break where I finished reading the book, where I might have stayed hunched in my cubicle for an extra, oh, I dunno, 30 minutes or so, to finish the novel? (Oops.) Because damn, that couldn’t wait until I got of work hours later. Not after what happened at the stables. Not after Girton learned the truth. Not after I learned what the gesture of exposing the neck meant. Not after that arrow hitting it’s mark. Not after the riders and their role.
Not after what we learned about Xus’s priest.
Nope. Reading that ending could not wait another bloody minute.
And now I’m back in my usual spot: yearning for the sequel.
It’s such a wonderfully tortuous place to be.