Age of Assassins

R.J. Barker. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-46649-3
In Barker’s uneven epic fantasy debut, a disabled teen hero faces down mighty adversaries. Girton the Club-Foot was enslaved as a child; since being rescued, he’s become an apprentice assassin roaming the cursed land to distribute deadly justice. To sniff out a killer targeting the heir to the throne, Girton disguises himself as a son of a lesser noble family come to court to train as a squire. As he and his master, Merela Karn, carry on their investigations, they peel back the layers of court intrigue and hidden alliances to find that nearly every person from the priests to the lower classes seems to have reason to kill the cruel, spoiled prince. Girton tries to sort out who is actually behind the plot while also contending with more typical teenage concerns (including first crushes, a sexual relationship, and cliquey friendships) and learning to behave as a noble in a highly stratified society. Girton’s maturity and skill seem occasionally inconsistent: with his peers he acts in accordance with his 15 years, but he can also stare down the powerful and speak his mind with adults. Impressionistic flashbacks offer moving reflections on his prior life, and readers will appreciate Barker’s complex mythology and smoothly flowing plot. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/26/2017
Release date: 08/01/2017
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