Readers of Assassin Prince will be quick to discover that P.G. Badzey has created a complex, absorbing atmosphere driven as much by differences between its inhabitants as by connections between all who live in it. It should be noted that Assassin Prince is not a casual, light read. Those familiar with the previous Grey Riders novels will recognize the use of maps and an extensive glossary to define identities and connections; these should ideally be consulted both at the onset and at various points in the tale, to make for a smoother read. There are many characters, and the complex setting, a strong point of the overall story, is not one to be hastily absorbed.
In this fourth installment, the characters from the first three books are faced with a trio of challenges: 1) Eric Indidarc’s quest to bring his parents to justice for their role as leaders of an assassin’s guild (hence the title) 2) the Riders’ search for their missing gnome companion, Hlerv, who absconded with an evil enchanted helm of teleportation and 3) the infiltration of evil-occupied lands by the Alenar sisters to rescue the royal descendants of ancient kingdoms. Fans of the previous novels will recognize many returning characters within a darker story line that still retains the wonder, inventiveness and magic of the originals.
Badzey draws all three seemingly disparate plot lines to a satisfying conclusion by the end of the book, using them to point to a sinister plot by the shadowy Ja’al cult for world domination. He also winds romantic threads through various sub-plots, including a budding relationship between one of the Riders and a kidnapped heiress. Vengeance, a power play struggle, and forces which collide, coalesce, and break apart under special interests create a complex story that is fast-paced and thoroughly engrossing. The novel ends with a note of tragedy not readily evident in the first three books, but a light of hope remains and the cliff-hanger ending whets the reader’s appetite for more to come in later sequels.
From evil forces and various races inhabiting the planet Damora (the setting for the Grey Riders novels) to Damora's history and the magical elements which inject life into the story line, readers seeking a complex fantasy replete with magic, battles, and a myriad of involving characters will find Assassin Prince a compelling saga that adds another piece of satisfying action to Badzey's world-building series.
The fact that it stands strongly alone will make it of special interest to fantasy and sci-fi readers who look for stories complete under one cover.
Assassin Prince is an epic fantasy work of fiction written for adults and was penned by P.G. Badzey. The book forms another epic episode of The Grey Riders series and follows the titular group - a former mercenary band of brothers – as they face a new threat following their previous victory over the Lich Princess. As the various colorful members of the group follow their own adventures across the world, they each discover threads that lead them to the sinister and powerful Ja’al cult, which threatens to destroy their entire world. What follows is a fantastical journey that once again combines those excellent elements of high fantasy surroundings with western-style action and adventure.
I am always delighted to return to the works of author P. G. Badzey and the fantastic Grey Riders series, and this new addition is no exception. With each book, I feel more and more attuned to the characters, and it is wonderful to see the plot expanding into so many different personal threads for them now that we know the central figures so very well. The Alenar Sisters just get cooler and cooler, and I love the diversity of personalities as well as the very different missions that each group undertakes during this particular volume. As always, the worldbuilding and atmosphere are solid, and the closer we get to what is sure to be an epic conclusion, the less I want the series to end. Overall, Assassin Prince is yet another superb addition to the Grey Riders series: not to be missed by existing fans.