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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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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • P
  • 16-08-18

This is a Teenage Boy Coming of Age Angst Book...

... do not expect anything more than this. The title and the start suggest this to be a story of the maturation of an elite assassin and one expects it to be infused with the machinations of power, intrigues a plenty & astonishing feats of ninja-esque assassin prowess. Instead all such things are primarily hinted at & the more interesting heroine plays her role off-stage, as it were. What we are left with is the rather disappointing teenage angst drama with occasional exciting scenes & some decently formed storylines playing out in the background. The start & the denouement are by far the best parts of this book. I nearly gave up 1/3rd of the way through, it was as dull as teenage male insecurities only can be. Was it worth persevering? I’m unsure still. Happily it wasn’t too long to listen to & the last couple of chapters were far better. Let’s hope the next books follow that plan rather the rather turgid plot of the middle of this novel. Certainly this is no Joe Abercrombie Half a King quality of listen. Still possibly worth it, even if only to appreciate how good other books are.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not assassainy enough

Well written but for me needed more action and scope. Not as good as the faceless men parts from game of thrones.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • GPMcG
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • 12-04-18

Great book, great reading!

I'd already read Age of Assassins, but thought I'd listen to the audiobook before starting book two in the series, Blood of Assassins.

Joe Jameson does a fantastic job of bringing the story and its characters to life.

Roll on book two!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great narration makes the book more entertaining

this book is very well paced

I'd describe it as a can of worms opening a can of worms

very fun with some great action scenes

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Solid fantasy debut.

This was an old school traditional coming of age fantasy tale. The world building was adequate without being anything special but R.J. Barker had an engaging enough writing style to suck me into his story and both the plot and characters were good.

The story was actually quite good. Girton was an easy to root for lead character and the story was engaging enough. We got a nice mix of action and intrigue and I really liked Girton's relationship with his master.

The world building could have been a bit better. This seemed a pretty interesting world and plenty of stuff about the lands and magic were hinted at but most of what we learned in this first book was a little vague for my liking. The other real flaw of the story was Barker's choice to have this tale set up as a Name of the Wind style flashback story. I'd have enjoyed this more if the only time frame the story was set in was the time when Girton was an apprentice assassin. Though I was fine with the small short flashbacks to his childhood.

All in all I felt like this was a good and engaging fantasy story that fell just short of being worth a 5 star rating. The flaws were small and the story was engaging enough that I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series!

I think Joe Jameson did a good job with the audio. I've heard him narrate a few different books and he is always dependably good.