This book grabbed my interest when Reskin’s delirious, dying master croaked out that the most important rule for him to follow was to “protect and honor your friends” when he was supposed to say “your king.” All of a sudden the cliche fantasy story of a hero trained from birth to become a killing machine and be sent out on a grand mission becomes the story of a trained killer making it his mission to find these friends so he can carry out his purpose and protect and honor them.
When he comes across a girl who casually uses the word “friends” to describe the two of them, he immediately makes it his top priority to protect her and her traveling companion. He thinks his higher ups assigned him a network of friends and that his purpose in life is to find and protect them. This makes for a comical scenario because anytime someone uses the word “friends” Reskin thinks, “Another one? But how will I protect this friend when my other friends are traveling in a different direction?”
Reskin is good at everything he does. He can fight with any weapon, he can use herbs to heal, he can break into even the most heavily-guarded banks, he knows every fact in history, he knows all the rules of high society and can act more noble than the nobility. Every mission he carries out goes smoothly and others admire him in every social interaction (even though he is doing it from a strategic stand point rather than an organic understanding).
A character so good at everything would usually make me put the book down in a heartbeat, but I find Reskin enduring because of how naive he is to normal life and everyday interactions between people. Growing up in such a harsh environment with such strict rules, he is baffled that so many people don’t know how to defend themselves, that they walk around completely unaware of their surroundings, and is confused that they somehow reached adulthood without mastering “the rules.”
It is hilarious to watch him assess social interactions. For example, he sees a man and woman at a table looking deeply into each other’s eyes. He disproves at how unaware they are of their surroundings, thinking they could be attacked from any side and wouldn’t noticed until it was too late. He notices that the man is holding the woman’s hand and thinks it must be because he is restraining her. Perhaps he doesn’t trust her and thinks she will pull out a weapon. Maybe that is why he is looking so deeply into her eyes; he wants to discern if she answering his questions truthfully.
I cannot do the comical moments in this book justice. I’ve never read a book that had me laughing out loud as many times as this one did. The misconceptions the other characters have about Reskin and the situations they get into are hilarious. The author has a unique way of letting us into the other characters’ thoughts at just the right moments to see the irony of their perceptions of Reskin. The switch in point of view is done seamlessly and in a way few authors can pull off.
I only have two complaints. As I said earlier, Reskin never fails to accomplish what he sets out to do and rarely even has any complications. I would like to see Reskin in a situation where his many skills aren’t quite enough and he really has to work to get out of said situation. I do have a feeling that this will happen in one of the next books, since I feel the story is building to a big confrontation.
My second complaint is the lack of competent female characters. Every single female character, from the maid to the sword-baring “warrior” instantly falls for Reskin and spends the book fawning over him and fighting each other for his attention. This does make for a lot of comical moments since Reskin is completely oblivious and is confused by the woman’s actions. I don’t begrudge any of the current female characters and their actions, but it would be nice to have at least one female character who didn’t have little more on her mind than a romantic night with Reskin.
In spite of my small irritations, I’m still going to give this book 5 stars. The author did a wonderful job of turning what began as a cliche story of an orphan boy trained to be a power-house killer into an enjoyable and anything but predictable story. I could not put this book down. Not to mention, it made be laugh so dang often.