The Baker’s Boy by J.V. Jones

For a pretty hefty book not a lot actually happens in it really. I’m not saying it’s bad but it is a bit slow.

Jack is the baker’s boy of the title and after something happens with a batch of loaves, he has to flee the castle he grew up in. But he is only one of a host of characters in this book as an old prophecy seems to be about to come to pass and various rulers are making moves to further their own agendas. Caught up in their machinations are Jack, Melliandra the daughter of a powerful noble in the same castle as Jack, and Tawl a knight given an almost impossible quest.

Honestly I don’t think I’ve read as tropey a book since David Eddings. A poor orphan farm boy (well baker’s boy) with destiny written all over him – check. A beautiful princess fleeing a marriage she doesn’t want – check. A wise old man living like a hermit – check. A knight on an impossible quest with a tragic past – check. An old obscure prophecy that seems imminently to come to pass – check. An evil counsellor to the king – check. An evil hedonistic clergyman who really runs his country – check. An evil nobleman who will do anything for political power – check. Every one of these political characters have manservants who they all treat like shit and employ henchmen to do their dirty work.

Now for all these tropes I still actually quite enjoyed it. OK all the baddies are almost caricatures but there is some nuance to some of them and I did like that we got quite a few POV’s from their perspectives which is still pretty unusual. It definitely has a nineties fantasy feel to it, the world is almost generic fantasy land (TM). At the end of the book, the characters are pretty much in the same place as they were near the start. Magic in the world is very undefined and is extremely rare and carries great personal consequences to the person doing it which I like. Most of the book is taken up with the political manoeuvrings of our baddies with our trio of goodies caught up in their whirlwind.

For all that not much happens in the grand scheme of things I was still caught up in the story and eager to find out what happens. It really feels just like an extremely long intro and it ends on a whimper, almost no climax to speak of. The constant POV changes was a bit annoying as there were so many, on top of the main ones there were other single POV’s dispersed throughout. For a debut book though it’s not bad and even if it’s a product of its time I still enjoyed it enough to continue on.

3 stars

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