Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Baker's Boy (The Book of Words: Book 1)

Mulluane | 12:01 AM | 2 Comments so far

By J.V. Jones

The tale begins with a glimpse of a truly despicable villain at work. Baralis, as you will come to know him, is a man who will do anything to succeed. A master of potions and poisons, he drugs the queen's wine and rapes her in the dark of night. A child is born from the terrible ill-fated union: a monster, obsessed, close to madness, destined to rule over half a continent. Kylock is his name, and when you hear of him next a murderer he will be.

Jack is the baker's boy. Always an outsider, his foreign mother branded a whore. He is born at exactly the same instant as Kylock. The two are joined by an invisible thread, their fates pull against each other, and their battle when it comes, will decide the fate of the world.

There are characters and memorable meals aplenty. A gluttonous archbishop stuffs himself with sweetmeats, whilst a nobleman's daughter is pelted with crab apples and rotting vegetables in the pit. A young pickpocket refuses to eat his greens, whilst a knight on a quest is offered nettle tea by a flower-arranging crime lord. The banquet never ends!

I invite you to me join in the adventure of The Baker's Boy. Settle down by your fireside with a glass of wine (this is not a Perrier book!) and be prepared to be transported to a world where greed and ambition reign. Remember, eat lightly before hand, The Baker's Boy is a many course feast.*Blurb source Author
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The Baker's Boy (The Book of Words: Book 1) by J.V. Jones

| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| Content: Wizards, Adult
| ISBN-10: 0446670979
| ISBN-13: 9780446670975
| Publisher: Aspect (June 1, 1995)
| Cover: Darrell K Sweet
| Paperback: 528 pages
| Source: Personal copy
| Read Chapter One
| Rating: 4 Stars
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The Baker's Boy (Book of Words, #1)

♥ Mini Review ♥
Jack is an orphaned child; his mother labeled a foreign whore, his father unknown or unnamed. Apprenticed to Frallit, the master baker, Jack spends his days working hard in the castle's kitchens; dodging blows and scrubbing floors. Before long he also finds himself working as a scribe for Baralis, the King's Chancellor, secretly of course. If there is one thing about Jack's world that is consistent it is secrets. Everybody from the lowest milkmaid to the most pious Knight to the King himself all have closely guarded secrets.

Suddenly Jack's life changes for the worse. After falling asleep on duty, Jack lets the morning's baking burn. In a panic he wished with all his might for time to turn back and return the loaves to dough. Much to his surprise, it does exactly that and Jack discovers he may just possess the greatest secret of them all. Terrified of what he has done Jack flees the castle, instinctively knowing no good can come of his newly found powers. Sure enough Baralis, a sorcerer himself, senses the power that Jack used and worried that it is more powerful then his own sends mercenaries after him. And the chase is on.

Meanwhile Melliandra, daughter of the richest lord in the Four Kingdoms has her own problems. In a world where women have no value other than as brides, she discovers her fate is to be wed to a sadistic prince; a scenario she just can not stomach. So she plans an escape, a desperate move for a girl who has never been outside the castle grounds.

Fantasy Series Book Review by Mulluane

♦ My Thoughts. Staged in a fairly typical medieval world, peopled by fairly typical fantasy characters, the beauty of this book is in the details. This was J. V. Jones' first major work and it took the market at the time by storm. Her concepts of everything from religion to politics are done with attention to detail and with powerful results. This story is packed full of interesting characters and strangely enough, I found most of them to be more fascinating then both Jack and Melliandra put together. Those two spend the entire book running away, getting in trouble of one sort or another, being rescued, getting caught, dragged back, escaping again..... But thats ok, they add a bit of extra drama to the book while the other characters spend their time being very entertaining. The bad guys are very very bad, the good guys aren't really much better and women have no problem using sex to get what they want. Jones even inserts a few characters simply for comic relief and a bit of behind the scenes gossip over a mug of ale.

Another thing that J. V. Jones did well was stay true to the period of history she was loosely basing the story on. It was a very violent time where morals were notoriously loose and where both governments and religions struggled against each other for power and wealth. As a result, even though the two main characters are young adults, I consider this very much a late teen or adult read. The first chapter starts off with a violently graphic murder followed by a rape.

♦ Conclusion. J.V. Jones' later works show more expertise and depth but I still love this story. The pacing is good, she spends very little time on each PoV before moving along to the next, the characters are at times dark, heartbreaking, steadfast or humorous and the politics have everything you could wish for from a corrupt and decadent world. May not be up to the standards of today's market but I value it for the classic fantasy it portrays. Well, that and the humor. Afterall, there is some reason it was on the bestsellers list when it was first published!

Note: These books are hard to find and for those of you who are cost conscious, can be a bit pricey. I suggest shopping around, third party sellers, the library or buying it used.

♥ Additional Reviews ♥

Series Summary ~ Book Two ~ Book Three

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Librarything Rating 3.5/5

Amazon Rating 3.4 out of 5 Stars
(104 customer reviews)

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Epic Fantasy Book Review of The Baker's Boy (The Book of Words: Book 1) by J.V. Jones - Reviewed by Mulluane - on August 20, 2008 - Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Mulluane is a 56-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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  1. This was one of my favorites, and I really need to finish reading her second trilogy set in this world.

    Have you read The Barbed Coil? That is her best novel, in my opinion, and it is a standalone.

  2. I have read The Barbed Coil but it has been awhile. I also have a couple of the newer ones. /Sigh, so many books, so little time....


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