Sunday, March 14, 2021

Reviw: Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick

by Robert V.S. Redick
Release Date: March 6th 2018
2018 Talos
Kindle Edition; 504 Pages
ISBN: 978-1945863370
Genre: Fiction / High Fantasy
Source: Review coy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

Kandri Hinjuman was never meant to be a soldier. His brother Mektu was never meant for this world. Rivals since childhood, they are drafted into a horrific war led by a madwoman-Prophet, and survive each day only by hiding their disbelief. Kandri is good at blending in, but Mektu is hopeless: impulsive, erratic—and certain that a demon is stalking him. Is this madness or a second sense? Either way, Kandri knows that Mektu’s antics will land them both in early graves.

But all bets are off when the brothers’ simmering feud explodes into violence, and holy blood is spilled. Kandri and Mektu are taken for contract killers and must flee for their lives—to the one place where they can hope to disappear: the sprawling desert known as the Land that Eats Men. In this eerie wilderness, the terrain is as deadly as the monsters, ghouls, and traffickers in human flesh. Here the brothers find strange allies: an aging warlord, a desert nomad searching for her family, a lethal child-soldier still in her teens. They also find themselves in possession of a secret that could bring peace to the continent of Urrath. Or unthinkable carnage.
My Thoughts
Master Assassins was an intriguing tale about two brothers who become fugitives from their land due to a series of misfortunes and mishaps, becoming known as 'Master Assassins' throughout the rest of the land because of their so-called blunders for which I'll explain.  I have never read anything by this author, but he has been on my radar for quite a while now, so when book two of this series landed on m radar, I was thrilled.  Then the publisher contacted me and asked if I would also be interested in the first book of the series realizing there would be little understanding of the second book without first reading book one.  So, I dove in immediately and I really enjoyed it, staying up late to finish it.
The tale is told through Kandri's eyes, but it took me a while to figure out that my confusion about the world-building was quite deliberate as you learn everything through his eyes.  And as Kandri doesn't have a lot of knowledge about the world in which he lives, details are scant and you are left wondering about the details at times.  And the world is quite intricate, with a lot going on. I actually really liked this way of writing, once I understood, as it made me pay attention to the details that were revealed, and it made me a lot more patient as a reader reading this story. I figured I would learn the necessary details when I needed to.  
Kandri and Mektu are lowly corporals in the Chiloto military, but they were recruited through force, coercion, and deception, all told through flashback episodes as they flee the situation in which they found themselves.  You learn their native land is steeped in religious fanaticism mixed with dangerous magics, led by a woman with a motive nobody really understands, except for dominance and destruction.  Again, these details are told to us through Kandri's experiences and through flashback episodes and the details don't necessarily give us the full picture at this point.  I enjoyed Kandri's point of view as he is the more serious of the two brothers and needs time to think through things before he does them, while Mektu is the impulsive one, mischievous and foolish, but definitely not naive.  I found Mektu to be really annoying at the beginning, but he definitely grew on me throughout the book and ended up being my favourite character by the end of the book.  Their relationship is troubled, based on their past history, again told through flashbacks, but they need to depend on each other to stay alive. I really couldn't decide how much of a master manipulator Mektu really was in this book, but I think we have only learned a little bit about him and that he is much more capable and much more sly than the author let on at this point.
The story was really good, and you learn that their country is quarantining from the rest of the world due to a deadly plague from which the Chiloto people seem to be mostly immune.  Their unfortunate deed was quite serious though, and the two boys are hunted down by teams of elite killers who will stop at nothing to capture them and torture them  for what they have done.  We follow them as they cross barren landscapes that used to be great seas and once huge empires and I was fascinated with those details, craving to learn more about the previous occupants.  Again, the author hints at the boys' lack of education about their world and teases the reader with a couple of details, sometimes told through dream sequences, without giving us more information.   Because the boys find themselves in one remarkable situation after another, and survive, they are looked upon with awe, but really, it is just pure luck that they survive.  So, the term "Master Assassins" is kind of a joke in this book, and I thought that was hilarious.  

Master Assassins was definitely not what I was expecting, but that made it much more fun to read and I enjoyed following Kandri and Mektu as they raced to reach the desert and make their escape.  I would have liked to have seen a bit more character development from some of the other characters as there were other interesting characters in this book other than Kandri and Mektu that I really liked, but maybe more emphasis will be on them in the next one.  Master Assassins was a strong first entry in this series, and I am definitely looking forward to the next adventure for our erstwhile assassins, Sidewinders



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