It's a game of assassin versus assassin. Girton Club-foot has no family and a crippled leg and is apprenticed to the best assassin in the land. He's learning the art of taking lives, but his latest mission tasks him with a far more difficult challenge - to save a life. Someone is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince's murder. Age of Assassins is the first in an epic new trilogy set in a world ravaged by magic, featuring a cast of assassins, knights, ambitious noblemen, and fools.
"Both a coming of age story and a tale of twisty intrigue, Age of Assassins builds a compelling fantasy world and peoples it with characters you can care about. Riddled with intrigue and dangerous magic, this is a hugely enjoyable debut." (Jennifer Williams, author of The Copper Promise) "A beguiling story of action and intrigue combined with a poignancy and humor that are as sharp as any blade." (Jon Skovron, author of Hope and Red) "A dark-humored game of cat and mouse between assassins with traitors on all sides." (David Dalglish, author of A Dance of Cloaks)
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This is a tale of not only an assassin’s apprentice, but a young one in a sort of coming-of age story. It’s not the first story of this type that I’ve ever read, but it is definitely a good one to add to my mental collection.
Girton is the apprentice to Merela Karn, a master assassin. Perhaps the best assassin in all the land. This land has been poisoned by magic, and so food is scarce and magic is outlawed. More than outlawed, it’s pretty much anathema. Girton is mage-bent- he was born with a club foot, thought to be something like the result of the remnants of the poisonous magic in the land. Despite his disability, he’s quite skilled as an assassin and as a jester. He doesn’t at all let his club foot stop him from being awesome. Merela took him in as a child rather than let him continue to be a slave, and raised him as her apprentice. I cheered for Girton, because there is something about him that instantly made him likable. I really liked Merela too, because while she is a master assassin, and is often likely to be harsh with Girton, you know she does care very deeply for him all the same. It’s rather heartwarming, really.
They’re hired to come to the castle, obviously as assassins, but also obviously not exactly for an assassination, and it turns out the queen, an old acquaintance of Merela’s, would like to hire them as professional assassins, but only to catch another assassin who is after her son, the heir to the throne. So, to catch an assassin, use an assassin- a really good tagline to use here. Girton is set up in the castle as the son of a minor noble, there to be trained in swordplay. So, he, a boy who has quite a lot of martial skill, has to pretend to have absolutely no martial skill whatsoever, while he and his master try to unravel the mystery of who would possibly try to assassinate the queen’s son (other than everyone, because the queen’s son is a giant tool).
This story is told mostly in the first person, from Girton’s POV, with the exception of a few interludes, which are usually in the third person, told as dreams, and tell a little of Girton’s childhood and how he came to be with his master. This was a nice way of splitting the narrative up, because the interludes were short enough to not be annoying, and informative enough to give quite a bit to the story. The story as a whole is really well told, and the ending had plenty of awesome reveals and other twists and turns.
The narrator, Joe Jameson did a really great job bringing Girton and Merela to life here. He really became Girton and told his story amazingly well. I can imagine it’s difficult to be an adolescent boy, two adult women, a dying man, and a rough-voiced old man within the same chapter, but he did, and so very well. Very immersive.
All told I really liked this story a lot. I can’t wait for more!