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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The King's Assassin by Stephen Deas (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Official Stephen Deas Website
Order The King's Assassin HERE
Read FBC Review of The Thief-Taker's Apprentice
Read FBC Review of The Warlock's Shadow
Read FBC Review of The Adamantine Palace
Read FBC Review of The King of the Crags
Read FBC short Review of The Order of the Scales

INTRODUCTION:  The Thief-Taker's Apprentice and The Warlock's Shadow are quite entertaining novels from Stephen Deas that take place in the same world as his Dragon series. Marketed as YA and featuring young Berren as main POV, the books read like an usual adult fantasy, with less explicit content than the author's other series but with lots of gore and grit otherwise.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The King's Assassin is the end of the original Thief-Taker's Apprentice series though of course characters from here will continue to appear in the next volume of the main series. The novel starts two years from the dramatic end of the last book when Berren escapes from his indenture as a "skag" on a ship in Skalda, a city on the other side of stormy oceans from his Deephaven home, because he sees his former master Syannis - presumed dead or imprisoned - on another ship in that port.

Later Berren joins a mercenary force, gets involved with the efforts of Syannis and his brother Talon to retake their homeland Tethis, where their mentally challenged younger but legitimate step-brother Aimes "rules" as puppet of usurper Meridian, meets the warlock Kuy again and much more...

Becoming known as "The Bloody Judge" with nine fingers off all things too, Berren is now very far in capabilities from the scared youth of the first two volumes, though inside he is as conflicted as ever. The King's Assassin contains so much stuff that I really do not want to spoil it, but it moves very well and you cannot stop turning the pages.

There are some little logic miscues here and there - as Berren (and others) really should realize some stuff rather than act sullen for a while and later surprised at the bloody finale and the last third of the book covers a lot of time and events in a very condensed "one battle is as another" way, but the book works well and has narrative power with an ending that wraps things up while opening new avenues for the future

Also there are many tidbits scattered around about the author's world that add to its depth and promise a lot for further volumes and the geography of the author's universe expands considerably.

In some ways, The King's Assassin is so different from the first two to seem as being from another series, a much darker, bloodier and more adult one; and in the author's noted style, the novel has almost no get out of jail cards, characters die and no one is safe...

The King's Assassin is highly recommended and a top 25 of mine as the clear best of the three Thief-Taker's Apprentice novels and also arguably the author's best at least since his still awesome debut The Adamantine Palace (though I have not yet read The Black Mausoleum as of now). 


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