The Baker's Boy

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The Baker's Boy is a fantasy novel written by J. V. Jones and is the first of the trilogy The Book of Words.



One of the two protagonists of the trilogy (the other being Melliandra). Jack is a lowly servant in the immense Castle Harvell, an assistant to the head baker. He has lived at the castle all his life and his greatest dream is to find out more about his mother. Jack knows nothing about his mother, who she was or where she came from, as she died when he was young. Jack's life changes dramatically after Baralis hires him as a blind scribe. Although as the years pass, Jack manages to teach himself to read and write and is no longer "blind". It turns out that Jack possesses immense magical power and thus, Baralis sees him as a threat and a rival. Jack absconds Harvell in fear of Baralis, and encounters Melli. He and Melli grow close as they both flee the castle and their intimacy deepens throughout the series.

Melliandra "Melli"[edit]

The only daughter and youngest child of the influential Lord Maybor. Melliandra is a strong-willed, rebellious young woman who longs to break free from the chains of chauvinism which bind women with endless laws in a male-dominated land. Melli longs to be a woman, yet when she is considered such she is severely disillusioned with the strict laws noblewomen must obey if they are to find a suitable husband. After Lord Maybor arranges her to be married to the sinister and intimidating Prince Kylock, Melli refuses and Maybor strikes her, causing her to flee the castle in fear. However, things take a turn for the worse and Melli finds herself facing adversity and trouble wherever she goes.


The chancellor to King Lesketh and a scheming sorcerer. Baralis has been plotting for decades to rule the kingdom of Harvell and then eventually create himself an empire to rule. At the beginning of The Baker's Boy, Baralis rapes Queen Arinalda whilst she is unconscious, and fathers the devious Kylock. It is Baralis' ambition to marry Kylock to the Lady Catherine of Bren, therefore combining two great kingdoms into an empire which he will rule through his son. Baralis uses a fair amount of magic, despite the fact that it disfigures his hands to the point where he can barely use them. Baralis hires Jack as a blind scribe, since Jack was unable to read, and unintentionally changes his life for him.


The haughty, lecherous father of Melli and her brother Kedrac. Maybor is a greedy, ruthless and yet pompous fool whose priorities in life are garnering wealth and power. He is the subject of envy and contempt at the castle court. Maybor has murdered many, including his own brother, wives and even an eight-year-old child, to extend his wealth. He is noted to have an almost inhuman amount of luck, surviving all of Baralis's attempts to kill him through sheer chance. Although he genuinely loves Melli he puts his emotions aside and plans the marriage of her to the heir to Harvell, Kylock. When she refuses he assaults her, causing her to flee in fear. Maybor spends much of the story searching for Melli although it is mostly his concern for the marriage rather than her safety.

Prince Kylock[edit]

The illigitemate son of Baralis and Queen Arinalda. No one knows the secret of his parentage, not even himself or the queen. Yet all feel he does not belong in Harvell and are frightened by his presence. Kylock is originally engaged to Melli but when she flees, it is decided that he will marry the beautiful Catherine of Bren.


The Baker's Boy begins with the rape of Queen Arinalda, the queen of Castle Harvell, by a man called Baralis. During the night, Baralis tastes three bloods (his own, the queen's and his dead servant's, Lusk). At the same time, a wiseman by the name of Bevlin watches a meteorite split into two pieces, one red and one white. The story moves forward twelve years and many important characters are introduced, as well as the prophecy which presides within the whole story.

Firstly, King Lesketh is shot by a poisonous arrow, planned by both Maybor and Baralis in order to go to war. Secondly, Jack, a mere baker's boy, is hired as a "blind scribe" for Baralis. Also, Morad's prophecy is first mentioned by Bevlin. Bevlin sends a knight, Tawl on a quest to "Find a needle in a haystack." Tawl's quest is to find a boy who is "twelve-summers old" and "unusual," though Bevlin has nothing else for Tawl to go on.

The story moves forward five years. At Castle Harvell, there is a stalemate, caused by Baralis, that has been for the past five years. The king's health has deteriorated, and Jack has begun to learn to read what he has written. He goes to the kitchens to bake loaves but falls asleep. The loaves are burnt and Jack, finding out, passes out, but is later woken up by another assistant and finds that the loaves are just right. He runs away from the castle in fear of Baralis. Melliandra, a daughter of Maybor, is due to marry Prince Kylock for her father's own ambition. She also runs away from the castle thinking that she could get away from the prince. Eventually she and Jack meet up and begin to journey together. Tawl has been caught in Rorn and tortured by the archbishop for one year. He is released and followed as he finds out about a place called Larn. There he receives information on where to find the boy he seeks, yet he must pay a high price for this.