By J.V. Jones
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| 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
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.
Librarything Rating 3.5/5
Amazon Rating 3.4 out of 5 Stars
(104 customer reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
|Kindle: The Baker's Boy (Book of Words)
Buy Book: AbeBooks - BAM
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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: of 5 Stars