BOOK REVIEW : Birth Of An Assassin By Rik Stone

The title of this novel was what got my attention to read it. I like to post reviews of the books I enjoy in the hope that others will benefit from my opinion. In this case I also committed to post a review in exchange for a free download of the book. Are assassins born? In this Rik Stone telling, they are made into an assassin, not born to it. And in this story, they are made to implement the lofty goals of those who made them. The story and plot are interesting and generally well told. From my personal taste standpoint, I would have preferred a more compelling hook revealed earlier in the story. As written, I was well into the first half of the book before any serious interest developed. Most readers would not be that patient. And that is a shame as the story, complex as it is, is an interesting tale. Set in 1947 Russia, the author takes the reader into both many of Russia’s large cities and small villages. Stone weavesthe post WW II economic circumstances of the struggling nation with the personal deprivations of the poor, contrasting them with the perks of the privileged. As a past visitor to that country, I could relate to the author’s descriptions of decay in infrastructure of cities as well as in her people. The protagonist, Jez, a young farm lad, wants desperately to join the Russian Army. It is his life goal. Lacking both education and physical size, he becomes the ward of a high ranking Russian Army General. Through a set of circumstances the officer mentors the boy through a series of selected military career paths, all from a distance. But the general keeps a constant eye on the
progress of his charge. Along the way, there is budding romance with a woman army member, but this storyline could have been treated more importantly by the author. The second half of the story is interesting, set in a time and place not often shared with readers of fiction. The writing style is more than adequate, but far from great I’m afraid. Tolstoy need not fear the competition from Stone. The most disappointing thing, the one that took away most of the prior positives of the reading experience, was the two part epilog. In one fell-swoop, Stone wraps up all the elements of an intriguing story, answering all the developed dangling devices in a few paragraphs. Answers are inserted to the questions it took fifty-nine chapters to create, whipped away in the blink of an eye. This is poor craftsmanship. Just as the structure of epilogs, this reviewer’s opinion turned a four star rating to a three minus.

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