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The Baker's Boy (Book of Words #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,028 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
THE BOOK OF WORDS is a thrilling new fantasy adventure series, where the lethal conspiracies and deadly intrigues of the mighty can be countered only by the power of magic.

At vast Castle Harvell, Where King Lesketh lies dying, two fates collide. In her regal suite, young Melliandra, the daughter of an influential lord, rebels against her forced betrothal to the sinister Pr
Mass Market Paperback, 552 pages
Published 1997 by Orbit (first published June 1995)
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A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinJ.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Best Epic Fantasy
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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 22, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok
What we have here is an orphan boy raised as a servant for the noble folk of Midkemia err, the Six Duchies no, that's not it. Oh yes, the Four Kingdoms. Well, Pug soon finds out. Wait, no. Fitz soon learns that he's a...Dammit. Sorry. Ahem. Jack soon learns that he has an incredible power and he may be destined for shit that isn't baking bread.

Then we have Melli, the pampered noble princess that wants to be more. That is, she wants to have her very own personality. She doesn't want to marry the
Sep 27, 2013 Evgeny rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A dark world where several kingdoms and dukedoms fight a war with a lot of people in high places making every effort to prevent its end. A prophesy about coming of dark times and a person destined to end the darkness. A knight on a quest. A runaway bride: her marriage was arranged for political gains. The nobility backstabbing and double-crossing each other even across the borders. The church which has nothing to do with religion anymore, fighting deadly games for monetary gains. All of these an ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Apr 05, 2015 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, epic-fantasy
I noted a lot of people were "less than fond of this series" I like it. Somewhat thought provoking considering it isn't really unusual fantasy fare. Good story, likable hero, other characters who are less so... try it yourself.

Jack a "lowly baker's boy" finds himself in the center of plots, danger and intrigue. You'll see some characters who look a bit familiar here (I really don't care for the word "trope")I think as you follow Jack and Melliandra aka Melli (a strong willed rebellious young wom
Some areas of her writing were good; others were not so good.

Looks like plenty of other people have covered the basics.

Hmmm, looking over the highlights, this is how I feel about the story:

SHORT WORD FEELING: Gritty, excellent characterization, lacking in concept and structure at times

CONCEPT: Two fates collide at the castle of the King, a noble girl and a baker's boy. Both desire to escape from their particular lives and do so amidst all the political intrigue. (Nothing really big actually ha
Apr 20, 2012 Dawn rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2012

I went into this knowing that it was the first book in a trilogy, and that it would be mostly setup for the other two books in the series. I went into this knowing that it was very standard, crunchy granola fantasy. A coming of age story with a pretty girl met by chance on the road, stereotypical villains, a coming of age type quest, stuff like that. But... Come on. Nothing happened in this book! And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. Nothing was resolved
Nov 17, 2007 Derek rated it it was amazing
I bought this book blindly, but was pleasantly surprised. I finished the entire trilogy in less than a month. It is a dark fantasy about with a large cast of token characters, including the fleeing princess, the boy who is unaware of his true power, the corrupt religious leader,the disgraced paladin, the annoying juvenile pickpocket, the evil throne-usurping sorcerer and many more. Each of whom are well meshed out and uniquely flavored by Jone's pen.
Jun 20, 2009 Hannah rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Unexpectedly good.

A review I read previously on another one of J.V. Jones' works mentioned it was boring and flat, so it was more an accident than anything that I ended up picking this book on my last trip to the library. And I'm glad, because this was rather a pleasant surprise.

Rather than flat, I found the characters quite interesting, with their own personalities, character traits and issues to deal with. Jones is obviously better at developing her villains; I found Baralis and Maybor (his be
Kevin Xu
Apr 05, 2015 Kevin Xu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy, fun, and enjoyable ride. A highly recommendable read.
Nov 09, 2015 Soan rated it liked it
I wanted to really like this book. There was a potential to it. There was a promise in lines that somewhere it will get better. Sadly it did not. Not saying it's a bad read. But it's not a great read either. Maybe because I was reading Robin Hobb before this, My expectations were high. Somehow I didn't connect with the characters. Something was missing from it. I wasn't able to invest in it that is, in my opinion, biggest flaw with this book.
I would read the next one, But not expecting anything
Maddy Churchhouse
So. This is an interesting one to judge.

The story overall is a lot of fun; I'm not going to deny it. I loved Maybor and Baralis' scheming, and Tawl was a fascinating character. But this book is so clogged up with unnecessary and repeated exposition that I wanted to bash my head against a brick wall. Rescued from the slush pile? Well believe me, it shows.

Large portions of the book are given over to characters repeating the goings on to each other - goings on which the reader already knows, becaus
Oct 06, 2012 Karissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I will not be reading the rest of this series. At all. It took me forever to get into the story - if I did at all - and took me forever to finish it. There's not even much of a story. The boy, Jack, accidentally burns bread and then accidentally uses the magic that he accidentally learned when he accidentally learned to read from scribing for Baralis to fix the burned bread. When the loaves are perfectly golden brown, Jack kind of knows what he has done and decides to run for it. Because that ma ...more
Aug 10, 2011 James rated it really liked it
Having read J.V Jones' watcher of the dead series and found it a bit hit and miss I was wary of starting another of her works. I am glad to say that this book was all hit - definitely better than her later work.

The characters were all great, believable and more than anything interesting. They had all clearly defined personalities, and everything that happened seemed natural. Not forced, or coerced. As a result the story flowed really well and it was easy to get lost in the fictional world provid
Benjamin Thomas
Nov 21, 2014 Benjamin Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-epic
It would be tempting to dismiss this one as formula fantasy. Just the title itself alludes to the notion that this is going to be one of those "assistant pig keeper" types. You know, the type of fantasy novel that we've all read where an unknown orphan boy turns out to be the world's greatest sorcerer or heir to the kingdom...or both. And I will admit that this first novel by J.V. Jones has some of those tendencies. There is a young orphaned lad who works in the bakery and there is definitely so ...more
Jan 04, 2012 David rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, 2012
I can't for the life of me figure out what I liked about this when I first read it a long time ago. It's stuffed full of Snidely Whiplash villains twirling their mustaches at each other and couple of particularly inept Dudley Do-Rights. Combine that with a perplexing fascination for offal, a dogged commitment to promote the abuse of women and a puerile fascination with female sexuality and you have whatever the hell this was. I can remember eagerly awaiting the next book in the series and I have ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Riana rated it really liked it
Young Jack is a baker's apprentice at Castle Harvell. Being meticulous but illiterate, he is chosen to copy some very rare sorcery writings for the King's chancellor, Baralis. After a mysterious incident with some burnt loaves of bread, Jack has to flee the castle and unexpectedly teams up with Melli, a notorious Lord's only daughter who is fleeing from her own fate. In the meantime, a grieved knight has devoted his life to finding a certain boy, with no more than a vague clue from an almost for ...more
Aug 10, 2015 Marta rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, adventure

This one was quite a surprise. I first picked it up as a distraction from all the grand stories and classics I've been reading recently, and - though the cover names it "the #1 national fantasy bestseller" - did not expect it to be a particularly pleasant read. (Baker's) Boy, was I proven wrong!

My first misjudgment was believing it would be an innocent novel, mostly because of the softly drawn cover. Okay, let's get it over with: yes, I judged a book by its cover. And I was proven the very oppos

Apr 04, 2008 Siobhan rated it it was ok
first of servicable fantasy trilogy. Jones set up some potentially very interesting character development, only to back away from it and hide in cliches. A detriment to the suspense of the plot was that as much page-time was given to the evil characters as the good--not so bad in itself, but they were staggeringly reptitive scenes used only for exposition. That exposition could have been bypassed to create more suspense.
Sep 24, 2015 Ebi rated it it was amazing
A strong start to what could potentially be a good series. The writing is certainly of a style you don't encounter much in books written these days, with each chapter having multiple POVs. But in these POVs, it is the author who informs us of the characters motives, rather than the characters thinking it aloud most of the time.
It certainly sets the book apart from what I have been reading in recent times. The book's beginnings remind me of Salvatore's Magician series, with a protagonist not know
Michael Wakefield
I am looking forward to the demise of so many characters.
Nov 04, 2014 Nem rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-read, reviews
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M.A. Kropp
May 11, 2011 M.A. Kropp rated it liked it
I read this after reading and fully enjoying Jones' later novel, The Barbed Coil. It was a good, but not outstanding book. Most of the characters were interesting, the political manueverings were many and the writing style easy to read.

The problems, for me, were in the two main characters, Jack (the baker's boy of the title) and Melli, the daughter of a Lord. They seemed a bit flat and one-dimensional: Jack was the lowly kitchen boy with an unknown and powerful talent he can't easily control, an
Apr 11, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I totally thought this was a young teenage/childrens book. Yet again I am wrong.
This book has like 5 different plot lines.
The bakers boy-Jack works for Barralis (or something like that) by writting scripts etc. then suddenly he has magical powers and is forced to run because socery is witchey and he would be burned or killed. When he escapes he bumps in to Melli which is a lady who is running away from being married to a wretched man, who happens to be secretly Barralis' son, anyway, Jack and h
Kiel Van Horn
J.V. Jones is a fantastic writer. And as her freshman achievement, this book would have been great ... had I not read her Cavern of Black Ice series first.

It has all the right elements of your archetypal fantasy novel: a knight, a young thief, a young and powerful reluctant sorcerer who may be the chosen one of prophecy, a runaway future Queen, an evil sorcerer, an evil priest-sorcerer, a benevolent wiseman...

But it's just that obsession with following the archetypes that makes the story fall
Rich Taylor
Nov 19, 2011 Rich Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jones-j-v
Having read four of the Sword of Shadows books (still being written), I saw this complete trilogy at a used book store and picked them up. This is an earlier work of J.V. Jones and you can see here style emerging as well as some 'early work' issues. In a nutshell, this is an enjoyable read. It isn't a book that I couldn't put down, but it was one I enjoyed picking back up again.

Some specifics.... I found it really funny that Jones was clearly trying to set up the classic fantasy journey in the f
Aaron Singleton
Jul 24, 2013 Aaron Singleton rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
I read The Baker's Boy back in 1997 when it was fairly new. Besides Imajica by Clive Barker and The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, this is the first true fantasy book I ever read. As a matter of fact, it was an early scene that pulled me in, one that was reminiscent of Barker with its viciousness and blunt imagery. This book had everything that I had loved about The Eyes of the Dragon and Imajica, but with a more fully realized world of its own. This is the book that got me hooked on fantas ...more
Nov 02, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
Maybe Robin Hobb has spoiled some tales for me. She's done them so well that when others try, all I can do is compare the writing, the characters, the world, the plot, and find them all wanting because they are never as well done as they are in her books. I found this a bit...empty of feeling. A bit...predictable. Baralis is a horrid creature, as you see soon into this book. Jack is clumsy and thoughtless, and there were times I wished someone would shake some sense into him, but soon realized n ...more
Sep 13, 2011 Bleys rated it it was amazing
The Baker's Boy is determined in a growing, pseudo-medieval scene, in which Jack becomes aware that he has some type of magical strength, making him the adversary of the king's wicked wizard. Jack gets mixed up around a prediction right after he goes out accompanied by a noblewoman's little girl, whilst at the exact same time, a soldier is attempting to save himself for permitting his loved ones to pass away. In this saga, their pathways cross.

This book established an interesting dream world, w
Whimsies & Words
Oct 08, 2012 Whimsies & Words rated it it was ok
I must preface the account of the book’s plot and characters given below with a quick apology, I had no idea how difficult it would be to describe what’s going on in The Baker’s Boy! The story is written in no fewer than 16 voices (though 6 dominate), and rather than an installment in a series the books, it’s more like the first chapter of a bigger book. So please bear with me, and hopefully I’ll get better at this…

At about 2am this morning I finally laid The Baker’s Boy to rest. As the first of
Lisa M
Oct 05, 2013 Lisa M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Yesterday I finished The Baker's Boy by J.V. Jones.

It was not a good book.

I would not go so far as to say it was a horrible book (a description I reserve for 1-star ratings and the majority of fanfiction), but it is a bad book. It suffers from a number of major problems, ranging from technical writing issues to poor story decisions, any one of which could perhaps be forgiven on its own if the rest of the book was strong enough to support it, but it isn't. It does not surprise me that this is the
Eric Leblanc
Nov 07, 2010 Eric Leblanc rated it liked it
This book suffers greatly from comparison if you have read Jones's Sword of Shadows serie. It was her first attempt and it shows.

Each chapter is divided among all protagonists, be it Tawl the knight, the chancelor Baralis, his enemy the Lord Maybor and his own daughter Melli, and then Jack the baker boy. To be honest I greatly prefer having one POV by chapter rather than switching characters every two pages. Baralis and Maybor are two devious and powerful lords that are at each other's throat tr
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Julie Victoria Jones was born in Liverpool, England. She has been writing for seven years, and is currently working on her sixth novel, which will be titled A Fortress of Grey Ice. She lives in San Diego, California.

All three books in The Book Of Words Trilogy are #1 national bestsellers, and have been bought for publication in England, Poland, Russia, Germany, France and Holland. Her fifth book,
More about J.V. Jones...

Other Books in the Series

Book of Words (3 books)
  • A Man Betrayed (Book of Words, #2)
  • Master and Fool (Book of Words, #3)

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