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The fabulous Baker's boy!! A strong and powerful fantasy series begins.....
The Baker's Boy - J.V. Jones
Member Name: sparkymarky1973
The Baker's Boy - J.V. Jones
Date: 17/11/08, updated on 17/11/08 (52 review reads)
Advantages: Very good characterisation and a strong and complex plot.
Disadvantages: Only that it takes a few chapters to really get going
After being recommended this series some time ago by someone who knows I enjoy Robin Hobb and George.R.R.Martin, I finally got around to starting it this week whilst I was on a weeks holiday from work. While The Baker's Boy, the first part of The Book Of Words trilogy, takes a few chapters to properly get started, I can easily see why it was recommended to me as this first installment has all the hall-markings of being a classic high-fantasy series.
Jack is a humble baker's boy, orphaned at an early age with no memories of his father and only the haziest recollection of his mother. Assigned to scribe in his spare time for King's Counsellor, Baralis, he begins to come to a new awareness that flows to the surface one morning when he falls asleep at the oven and burns some loaves. In an instant of wishing that there was something he could do to rescue the bread and knowing the cruel court baker is likely to beat him for his costly mistake, Jack collapses and when he reawakens, the loaves are miracously fine. Knowing some kind of sorcery is at work and knowing that people of The Four Kingdoms are less than forgiving over the use of magick, Jack decides to flee the castle and make a new life. It is not long after he makes this decision that he stumbles across the maiden, Mellisandra.
Mellisandra is the daughter of a high-ranking court official, Lord Maybor, and is making her own escape because she is due to be bethrothed to the Queen's son, Priunce Kylock. This would be a worthy match except Kylock has a mean streak, there is something very sinister about him and besides Mellisandra is in no rush to be married. Maybor sends men after his wayward daughter to pursue her and bring her back to her obligation but King's Counsellor has his own motives for preventing that from happening. War has broken out between The Four Kingdoms and a neighbouring state, the King lies delirious and feverish in the sick bed he has inhabited for the past five years and Baralis has his hand in more of those events than anyone including the Queen actually realise. He sees both Jack and Melli as a threat to his plans but he is not the only political figure trying to control events and other forces are at work......
This first book has been criticised for the way it swaps perspectives and follows several different character's paths at once but this is a style also favoured by George.R.R.Martin to much success and I think it works equally as well here as it does in his Game Of Thrones series. The tension is cleverly broken between chapters and events by the sly observations between two of the royal guards and this also works. Plenty of questions are left unanswered though and whilst there is no cliffhanger ending as such, the book ends with the reader feeling very keen as to what might happen next. There is a real sense of Fate directing the characters all towards one path without anyone of them either realising it or being able to control it. There also a strong feeling that there is much more going on here than at first meets the eye and that although the reader has a much wider idea of what is happening in this world, there is plenty to discover in the further installments.
For me, once I got past the first four chapters, this book was unputdownable and really sucked me in. The style of writing takes very little to get used to and soon flows across the page and whilst J.V.Jones is not as good as Hobb, she is every bit as good as George.R.R.Martin!!
Summary: A baker and a potential Princess flee the castle with seperate agendas but share a common enemy