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Summary

Shortlisted for the David Gemmell Awards 2018

Shortlisted for the Kitschie Award 2018

To catch an assassin, use an assassin.... 

Girton Club-Foot, apprentice to the land's best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But their 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 land. 

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

©2017 RJ Barker (P)2017 Little Brown Book Group

Critic reviews

"Age of Assassins 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)

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

"Outstanding. Beautifully written, perfectly paced and assured. Kept me reading well into the early hours of the morning. A wonderful first book - a wonderful book, period - that should be at the very top of your to-read list." (James Islington, author of The Shadow of what was Lost)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great start to what should be a great series

The only way to start off is by saying that this title did not disappoint. The story was fabulous and the cast of characters equally so. It had everything from intrigue, to romance, to shadowy plots and, of course, a bit of school yard bullying from a thoroughly hateful little wastrel of a boy.

Unlike most tales of assassins, or fantasy protagonists in general, our hero isn’t a muscular Adonis making the ladies swoon wherever he goes. Admittedly, he is a very capable killing machine due to the training he has from his master. He’s a cripple with a club-foot. Not the first thing you’d think of when envisioning an assassin skulking in the shadows ready to slit a throat. R. J. Barker does well to remember his character’s limitations and often highlights when his disability is causing him pain or distress. Its little bits of attention to detail like that which bring a welcome touch of realism to a fantasy world.

I won’t delve too much into the story, after all I don’t want to spoil anything. But I will say that the relationships, be they positive, negative or somewhere in-between, are well-formed and the characters all have … well … character to them. None of the named/important characters feel like they were just thrown in.

The world is also pretty detailed. This excites me more than most when it comes to a fantasy novel, as it means the author is fully intent on going deep into his creation. Nothing worse than a series that has little depth to the background.

My only slight negative was that I didn’t think the narrator would gel well for the whole story. Just at the start I kind of felt his voice wouldn’t fit. Thankfully, I was wrong and he settled down really well into it and did the varying cast of characters justice with his narration. Either that or I got used to him so quickly that it didn’t bother me (which would be a plus in itself).

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Superb tale of murder and intrigue.

Reminiscent of the Farseer trilogy, excellent audiobook. highly recommended with brilliant narration. I enjoyed every minute from beginning to end.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Rediscovering Fantasy

I used to read a lot of fantasy many years ago but lost interest in the late eighties when much of it seemed formulaic and tired. This book however kept me interested from the first page. The world and characters are different and interesting whilst also feeling familiar. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about it and have bought the second book in the series straight away so I continue to escape to the Tired Lands.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Damned fine debut!

Would you consider the audio edition of Age of Assassins to be better than the print version?

Can't say. I've only listened to the Audio, but the story was 5* so I would say they are equal.

What did you like best about this story?

Right up my cobbled street. Medieval setting with a fantastical flare that reveals antlered war mounts and colourful armour; reinforced kilts and good ol' Welsh names! I don't see that enough, and as a history geek (specifically Anglo-Welsh wars), this impressed me muchly.

Have you listened to any of Joe Jameson’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Nope, so N/A

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Murder mystery in a magic-tainted medieval castle.

Any additional comments?

The story had me guessing at suspects throughout. I'd like to claim I'd figured it out early on... or at all, truth be told, but I didn't. I had suspicions about the right sort of people, but I never guessed at reasons, motives, secrets until they were revealed. Bravo, RJ. Bravo.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Couldn't stop listening

Very enjoyable listen. I wasn't expecting big things from this book as I have no experience of the author but the genre and subject are of interest (and I had a credit to spend) so thought I'd give it a go. And I'm very glad I did.
Narrator was very good and despite being a big book (13hrs)i didn't tire of the voices used for the main characters.
Would definitely recommend

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it!

Engaging characters, good world building, intriguing story, with a few surprises. Will definitely be continuing with this series.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

grabs you and pulls you along

I love Joe Jameson's narration so when searching through the list of those he has narrated I stumbled on this. having not read anything by this author before I was curious as to what it would be like. I am very glad I did. the storyline is great! it is part and keeps you listening throughout. I listen mostly on long commutes and found myself ditching the tv in the evening to fond out what was happening next. Great characterisation and plot in a genre that can often get a bit samey plot wise. I will definitely be hunting out more from this author.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is a really good book.

This is a great book. Really interesting and quick but maintaining a good standard of writing all the way through. There is detail and care put into everything. Can't wait to read more.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Top class epic fantasy writing.

I loved this book, and I wasn't sure about reading it till I noticed one of the other authors I raved over his first novel wrote a highly positive endorsement of this one. Glad I was that I saw it and downloaded this book.

The story itself is deep and clever, with two assassins pressed into service to foil a plot to assassinate the heir to the throne. A task made all the harder by the fact that so many people might want to, or had good reason to want the heir dead. The author unwinds this mystery layer by layer leaving me guessing on where it would end right up till the final chapters. He did give away - at least to me - who the murderer of unconnected people was though, but not in any massively obvious way. The rest was well hidden.

The characters are all deep, well-crafted and three dimensional and superbly voiced by the narrator who is also excellent throughout.

Honestly a must read in my humble opinion if you like epic fantasy that involves a little mystery and a magic system that I think will only be expanded on in the second couple of books, but is interesting in this one alone.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Rachel
  • Dromahair, Ireland
  • 14-07-18

Not so bad for a boy with a club foot

I must admit my heart fell when I realised that a chunk of this book was about our hero, Girton, being trained in combat school. I am heartily sick of fantasy novels that are based on a boy (sometimes a girl) who doesn't realise they are very gifted/magical/secretly royal attending a school to learn fighting/magical arts etc.But this one turned out to be rather better than most. I really enjoyed the character of Girton's 'Master' and the setting was good. As often the case, the baddies were a bit one-dimensional. But it's a good romp and I will probably listen to the next book. I think the narration by Joe Jameson helps to lift the quality somewhat.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Koen Van Belle
  • 27-08-18

Loved it

15 words are too little to express the amount I enjoyed this book.. great find