*** This review originally appeared on Out of this World Reviews. ***
Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick is an ambitious introduction to a vast world of empires, intrigue, war, and two half brothers too foolish to ever survive the mess they get themselves into. As servants of the Prophet, Kandri and Mektu are zealots whose loyalty to their cause is unwavering. Except neither is really a zealot, nor is either of them truly devoted to anything but themselves. Certainly not to the Army of Revelation, of which they are a part. The reasons for their current enrollment are revealed over time. First, though, the brothers must get themselves into a mess so horrendous and life-threatening that they must flee or be subjected to torture and death.
I won’t go into the story much more than that because, truth be told, I don’t know where the author takes our two unlikely heroes once they flee from the army. I know they have a death squad hot on their tails and that their intention is to lose their pursuers in a desert known as a bit of a death trap unto itself, but, ultimately, Master Assassins was a DNF for me. From glancing at other reviews I know I’m in the minority here, but I feel I gave the book a fair shake; I didn’t put it down until I was 25% of the way through it.
So what didn’t work for me? The story pacing was the major culprit. The fairly unengaging main characters didn’t help much, either. Some others complained about the excessive language and overly descriptive sex scenes. The language didn’t bother me so much and I didn’t read far enough along to read any of the sex scenes (unless you count sex with children, which is not described in detail but does happen). But, really, when I’m 25% into a story it better have some damn good writing going on, some really engaging and interesting characters, or toss the reader into a vast pit of wonderful storytelling. Master Assassins had none of this. Granted, it’s epic in scope so it may be a book or two before it really gets moving. But that’s far too long a wait for me.
Master Assassins is probably a good first book in what may be a very intriguing series, but I’ll never know for sure since it was a DNF for me. I do offer my thanks to the publisher for a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.