Set five years after the end of Age of Assassins (reviewed HERE, but not by me so it probably makes more sense), Blood of Assassins sees Girton returning to the Tired Lands, a place that was run-down and practically eating itself five years ago but is now in an even worse state after years of war have ravaged the landscape, with murderous, savage, Nonmen and man-eating pigs roaming the land preying on the weak, not so weak and everyone else in between.
At it’s core Blood of Assassins is a murder mystery and detective story, with Girton called upon to help his old friend Rufra who is now one of three people vying for the crown and so is bogged down by politics and needs someone who can get things done like only Girton can, as well as needing a friend. Just when you think you have an idea of who the culprit is there are more than a few twists, turns and surprises – and just how reliable is our assassin narrator after all…? It’s extremely rare that a book comes along that I want to read again immediately upon finishing but this has certainly been the case with both the books currently in this series.
This is an extremely enjoyable book which is compelling, accessible and tightly plotted. The world is imaginatively built, the story is engrossing and leaves you wanting more. In fact, after reading the first book in the series, I told anyone I could that I found the book easily as good as the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski yet much easier to get in to and equally as hard to put down. This is the same here with Blood of Assassins. If RJ was a band/musician we would’ve been heading towards “difficult second album” territory but there is absolutely no dip in quality here. The format from the first book is expanded upon with epic, full-scale, battles and scenes that are equally breathtaking as well as heart-stopping. The climactic battle had me reading with my breath firmly held, or it certainly felt like I did. I found it cleverly written and not too tightly defined whilst at the same time being extremely detailed with elements such as the dream chapters which add to the lore and background of the world and, as in the first book, could be linked to Girton’s connection with magic. In the Tired Lands, magic is much more of a curse than anything else.
You don’t need to have read Age of Assassins to enjoy this book. Pretty much all the information you need on each character and event from the first book is delivered in a way that doesn’t hinder the pace or overload the reader but, heck, you really should go and pick up Age of Assassins anyway. You won’t regret it. I, for one, can’t wait for the final book in the series to land.