Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker

AoA-final-cover-666x1024Title: Age of Assassins 
: The Wounded Kingdom #1
Author(s): R.J. Barker
Publisher: Orbit
Format: Paperback
Original Release Date: August 1st 2017
Pages: 408
Genre(s): Fantasy
ISBN13: 9780316466493

With R.J. Barker’s debut novel, fantasy lovers tag along with Girton Club-Foot and his wise master assassin in their hunt of an assassin. This coming-of-age story blooms with deceit and lies that serve to develop a teenage assassin in his understanding of the Tired Land’s culture and history, but also in his understanding of who he is and what he will become.

With a crippled leg, Girton has learned to use it efficiently in his apprenticeship with the best assassin in the land. While he has yet to completely master the art of killing, he still possesses a fair amount of skills that makes anyone who wants a piece of him regret in agony or suffer a quick and sudden death. A recent mission however brings him and his master in the territory of royalty and presents them with an unusual mission for these assassins: uncover a traitor who wishes to kill the heir of the throne. And so we find ourselves with assassins trying to find an assassin before the prince meets with Death, or Xus in this case.

Age of Assassins isn’t anything close to a story filled with assassins stabbing each other, hiding in the dark—maybe a little of that though—and taking down high-valued targets. This fantasy story is a look at Girton, a fifteen year old assassin-in-training, as he learns the importance of the little things in life, such as friendship and love. Having to adopt a personality in order to infiltrate the social circle of the castle in which lies are thicker than walls forces Girton to acquaint himself to a whole spectrum of emotions that you’d imagine have been burnt out of the souls of anyone who proclaims themselves as assassins. Told in first-person, except for the interlude chapters told in third-person, Girton still ends up becoming a complex and delightful child who has so much to learn and soon so much to lose.


Interestingly enough, this wasn’t a typical fantasy story. The first in a trilogy turned out to be spy thriller fused within a fantasy lore, and surprisingly enough, it was quite captivating. I did find some moments throughout the book to be quite stagnant and lose its momentum here and there, and with everything taken into consideration, the protagonist’s development was far more interesting than the hunt for an assassin. It is still worth mentioning that this was still a page-turner and that its world-building was sufficient enough to satisfy any fantasy lover’s needs. With some historical events being told through character’s with experience—also probably the only way we would have learned of this universe—the Tired Lands promises to expand and fascinate readers with every installment to come in this series.

The main mission might have been the conductor of this story, but it was far from being the source of enjoyment. In fact, while Girton was at the heart of everything and everyone in his fake persona and got clues that he relayed to his master slowly and surely, his master would always seem to be keeping her apprentice in the dark and securing most of the information regarding the main mission that she’d gather on her own to herself. If anything, it is the suspense that was thus suffering since the heir to the throne was not a teenager that you’d remotely care for. The reason why Girton’s master even wants to complete this mission is where the true intrigue lies.

Age of Assassin‘s turned out to be a fantastic debut novel by R.J. Barker and Blood of Assassins is a sequel that I would love to get my hands on as soon as possible. With the way the epilogue ends, fans can be sure that there is still so much to be excited for.

Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada and Orbit for sending me a copy for review!

You can order your own copy now!


Amazon (USA) – Amazon (Canada)Chapters IndigoBook Depository


Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Age of Assassins?

Share your thoughts with me!

Till next time,




51 thoughts on “Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker

  1. This does sound different from what I thought the story was about, I mean you see the word “assassins” in the title and you think blood and gore. Great review, Lashaan, I definitely want to read this at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, right? I also had completely forgotten what the book was about when I started it so I expected a bunch of adult assassins going up against each other but this turned out sooo different, and definitely still in a good way. Thanks Tammy and I hope you’ll get the chance to try it out someday! 😁


  2. Of course: no surprise, another one that I just have to add to my to read list now. It sounds interesting to me, because it’s a completely different kind of fantasy story than I am used to reading. It’s nice that it goes in a different way you expect books like these to go. So, that makes it pretty appealing to me. That….and of course your great review for this one as well 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahahah I am the devil of that TBR of yours 😂 It is indeed different. I love mystery as a genre and having it within a fantasy story is just awesome. Of course Girton isn’t Sherlock (his master would be Sherlock though) but it’s still fun to see politics through the eyes of a kid. Thanks for reading as always, Michel! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I usually stay away from assassin stories since they follow a similar pattern, but this sounds intriguing!
    Great review as always. Another added to the TBR pile that is starting to get unmanageable. Ah, the life of a book lover 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read that some people have compared this to Hobb’s famous series too. If anything, I think that’s some high praise; even if I haven’t read any Hobb’s books yet (just one short story in an anthology).

      Hahah Glad to be of a service to your TBR. 😁 I think their natural role in life is to grow exponentially anyways! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think Assassins are overdone like most people think zombies are… so I was surprised when you made this sound like something I would want to read Lashaan! I love character arc… and I love young protagonists in adult fare. 😍 I Also love that he’s disabled and that it was integrated into the story. Great review as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is exactly that! Honestly, I don’t think I’ve picked up enough well-written books with assassins in it to feel like they are overdone though hahah There’s still a couple of other titles that I hope to check before I could really tell what is “known” grounds and what is really “new”. I’ve seen people say that this book had some resemblances to Hobb’s famous series too! Thanks Dani!! I appreciate the positive thoughts!! ❤


  5. Ah glad to hear this debut was good enough to make you want to read the sequel pronto! I really dig the whole teenager training to be an assassin thing (what does that make me, I wonder?) and the journey the main character usually goes through, which is both terrifying and fascinating at the same time.
    I love anything with fantasy and historical elements in it, even if you do classify this one as a bit atypical. I’m sorry the pacing wasn’t always great but at least it seemed to be quite worth it in the end 🙂 The world building is always so important so it’s nice to hear that was taken care of, as well.
    Amazing review, Lashaan, as per usual!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahah I do love a nice story about any type of character going through a training too. Especially when it’s training in the real world and it just forces the character into introspection. Good stuff.
      The pacing isn’t bad at all though, but it does sometimes waver and make you wonder when exactly is the story going to move forward.
      Thank you, Sophie!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have been seeing this book popping up everywhere! 🙂 Glad you reviewed it and gave me an idea what it’s all about… I won’t rush to read this just yet… I am groaning under a TBR pile but will definitely keep it in mind for the future 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Dani!!! Hahahah I’m happy to hear that. There’s something always so satisfying to hear others adding this to their piles after reading my review. It’s like some variant of a “Mission accomplished.” 😀 😀 Take care, Dani! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This one is on my list! I am a bit concerned about the pacing. It sounds like it is dijointed somewhat, which I have been known to struggle with. This sounds more like an initial character study of an assassin though, would that be accurate to assume? If so, I am very sold! Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The depth of the character study isn’t as intense as I would have loved, but that’s probably cause he’s a teenager. I also went into the book thinking that this teenager had a lot of experience already but as you read the book, you quickly grasp his teenage self and how he has so much to learn about life. It is definitely a character study though. You’ll see him discover himself and learn what it’s like to be a “normal” person while fighting off his “assassin” side. It’s definitely worth checking out someday though. 😉 Thank you so much!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yay! Killer mermaids!! 😀 Hope you’re ready for them! Hihi I know, I know. *self-pat on the back* 10 points for Lashaan. 😀 No better feeling than making Danielle pick up books! 🤣


  8. Great review Lashaan!! I am now starting to add more fantasy to my TBR. I am hoping to dive into Robin Hobb see how that goes. I see her name a lot so figured her books were worth a try see if I can get into the more epic fantasy. But this one sounds really good too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Asia! Oh yay!!! Yeh.. I personally discovered how fantasy and scifi has become one of my most-read, and consequently favourite, genre last year. It’s just a boundless genre where, under the hand of the right authors, could really blow your mind away. I have only read one short-story by Robin Hobb and hope to be able to read her novels someday too. It’s definitely a nice place to start though. I’m convinced. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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