Mark Lawrence's Reviews > Master Assassins

Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick
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it was amazing

Master Assassins is a fantastic book. I’m going to wax lyrical about it at some length but the take away message is: READ IT! READ IT! READ IT!

The cover while well drawn does the book a disservice in my opinion. It led me to expect something with a more YA sensibility, with a dungeons and dragons vibe, and some master assassins. Nothing wrong with those things, but this book is literary fantasy. Literary fantasy full of excitement, mystery, and even (as per the cover) guys with flaming gauntlets riding huge sabre-toothed cats. By literary fantasy I mean that it is deep, very intelligent, and exquisitely written. Don’t let that put you off if that is the sort of thing that puts you off. It is also full of all the great things fantasy readers love. I hope it’s a huge hit. I think it might be.

I first heard of Robert VS Redick back in 2011 when my debut was published and I started to pay attention to what was going on in the genre. I read his debut (The Red Wolf Conspiracy) and found it very well written but not entirely to my taste. That four book series concluded in 2012 and since then it’s been crickets from RVSR until this novel. I have to believe that he has spent all of those five years writing this book, because it feels as if it has years behind it … and if it was knocked out in some shorter period I would have to cry.

Reading this made me want to go back to my own Work In Progress and just do better. The prose is spectacularly good. I don’t have reams of quotes because it isn’t in that stand alone quote way (the aphorism) it stands out, but in the way each line does its job so well, everything feels real and true, the insights offered to a relationship or a place or person so hard hitting and accurate.

The setting is an isolated continent quarantined by the wider world. It has a distinctly non-European feel, inspired I think by Redick having lived for some time in Indonesia. The soldiers use machetes, there are tamarind trees, the flora and fauna has an Asian vibe to it.

The story focuses on two half-brothers with very interesting personalities and a complex relationship – it’s delivered entirely through the point of view of one of these two and in the present tense (save for flashbacks). The present tense becomes invisible very swiftly (do NOT let this put you off) and lends a strange power to the narrative. We get to explore the brothers’ past, their shared love interest, and their mysterious father, while simultaneously progressing with the main story which has them as soldiers in a holy war in service to a somewhat crazed prophet.

A series of … mishaps … spiral rapidly out of control and a tale of running and hiding and fighting unfolds with everything on a knife edge as the world building and revelations stack up with a natural and effortless lack of info dumping.

There is magic in small and exciting doses. Your adrenaline will flow. Your emotions will be toyed with. You will find yourself drawn in, turning the pages and worrying that fewer and fewer remain.

The supporting cast is strong, including great female characters. The world building supported by customs and tales that give it great depth.

I read a lot of good books. Quite a few very good books. This is one of the rare 6* series openers I’ve encountered. The last was the exceptional (and very different) Senlin Ascends.




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Reading Progress

November 15, 2017 – Started Reading
November 15, 2017 – Shelved
November 15, 2017 –
page 24
5.24% "I'd forgotten how well Redick writes.

The bad news is that he has gotten better!"
November 24, 2017 –
page 72
15.72% "Early days, but if it carries on being this good Imma need 6 stars."
November 26, 2017 –
page 130
28.38% "When I read books this well written it reminds me to up my game and get out of cruise-mode."
December 1, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)

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Earl Just added it to my TBR list. So my next purchase is this, Red Sister, and Senlin Ascends! Thanks for the recommendation, Mark!


Mark Lawrence Earl wrote: "Just added it to my TBR list. So my next purchase is this, Red Sister, and Senlin Ascends! Thanks for the recommendation, Mark!"

I hope you enjoy them all!


message 3: by Scott (new) - added it

Scott I'm definitely going to have to look at getting my mitts on this (for the characters riding sabre-toothed tigers alone!). Thanks for the recommendation Mark!


message 4: by Stefan (new) - added it

Stefan Fergus Got an ARC earlier this week. Looking forward to giving it a try.


message 5: by A.a.m (new)

A.a.m Marked for reading.


message 6: by Anne Marie (new) - added it

Anne Marie Now you have read it and given such a fantastic review, can you put it up as a giveaway or donate to worldbuilders so at least one of us does not have to wait till next year.


Kathy I am super excited for this! I feel like present tense isn't used used enough in adult fantasy (I can't even remember the last one I've read), which is a shame because a lot of cool stuff can come out of it.


message 8: by Karim (new)

Karim I'm currently reading The Crimson Campaign by Brian Mclellan which I'm enjoying and just bought the new book by Stephen Donaldson - there's something comforting about going back to authors you grew up with.
But this is going my list to read. I'm debating whether to read this after Donaldson or after Sins of Empire by Mclellan.
The last great recommendation by an author that I took on face value was Gardens of The Moon by Steve Eriksson which I loved. That was by Stephen Donaldson!


message 9: by Khaled (new)

Khaled Work in progress? Crossing my fingers it has something to do with the Broken Empire universe


message 10: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris Thanks! The cover did have me thinking it was another YA coming of age tale (not my cup of tea), But your review was fantastic and I've added it!


message 11: by Juniper (new) - added it

Juniper Nichols Well geez, now I basically HAVE to preorder it...


message 12: by Keith (new)

Keith Ditto regarding the cover putting me off before your review


message 13: by Bruno (new) - added it

Bruno Silva You make it seem like an awesome read


message 14: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan I tend to avoid YA books. I like the grit of authors like... well... Mark Lawrence for one ;) I think books like yours are able to throw away all of the barriers to storytelling, so as not to appeal to the younger masses. However, you've made a good case for this book.

As a YA book, did you feel that the story was set behind the barriers that would make it an adult book? Would the book have been better if it was a little more explicit? Or, am I not being fair by simply avoiding everything with a YA category?


message 15: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Dan wrote: "I tend to avoid YA books. I like the grit of authors like... well... Mark Lawrence for one ;) I think books like yours are able to throw away all of the barriers to storytelling, so as not to appea..."

...but I go out of my way to say this is NOT a YA book...


message 16: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Sometimes you have to beat me with a hammer. Got it! .. and Added it!


message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Morton I read any genre, whether treated in a YA manner or not. Labels can be a hindrance. I write westerns, science fiction, horror, romance, thriller, crime and fantasy. If the story-line appeals, Dan, go for it, and try not to be prescriptive in your reading options. :)


James Singh Thanks a lot for your review Mark, this book is simply awesome. I would have seriously regretted to have missed out on this , had it not been for your review


message 19: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence James wrote: "Thanks a lot for your review Mark, this book is simply awesome. I would have seriously regretted to have missed out on this , had it not been for your review"

Good to hear!


message 20: by HighHopes (new) - added it

HighHopes Hmmm lots of good reviews. Last time I read a book it was one of the best I ever read. Is this going to be the next? On my read list to find out.


message 21: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence HighHopes wrote: "Hmmm lots of good reviews. Last time I read a book it was one of the best I ever read. Is this going to be the next? On my read list to find out."

Well, if you read two "best ever" books in a row you are doing very well indeed! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.


Sumeet Tanwar the second you compare it the Senlin Ascends you got me.


message 23: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Sumeet wrote: "the second you compare it the Senlin Ascends you got me."

The only thing they share is great writing, but by your 5* I see that was enough!


Jamie Gunn I got to the end of the second paragraph of this review before deciding to read the book. Sounds fantastic.


message 25: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Jamie wrote: "I got to the end of the second paragraph of this review before deciding to read the book. Sounds fantastic."

Yay!


message 26: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Wow, that's pretty high praise.

I actually loved the Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea. It was the last two books that saw my interest wane. Not sure if I can pinpoint why. So this wasn't even on my radar until I saw your recommendation. Thanks! I'll add it to the ever growing list of To Read.


message 27: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Mark wrote: "Wow, that's pretty high praise.

I actually loved the Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea. It was the last two books that saw my interest wane. Not sure if I can pinpoint why. So this wasn't ev..."


Good to hear. I hope you get to it soon!


message 28: by Matthew (new) - added it

Matthew Bailey I picked this up today based on your blurb n the back, and I'm very excited to read it.


message 29: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Matthew wrote: "I picked this up today based on your blurb n the back, and I'm very excited to read it."

I hope you like it!


message 30: by fantasy fiction (new)

fantasy fiction is everything Have you read The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick? Do you have plan to read in the future?
And good review!


message 31: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence fantasy fiction wrote: "Have you read The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick? Do you have plan to read in the future?
And good review!"


I have. I thought the writing was great but found the story a bit YA for my tastes.


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