Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Harper Voyager: paperback published 2007: 460 pages
In a faraway land in which members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody one young boy will become a walking enigma.
Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.
So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and learn a new life: weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.
I’ve been told a million times to read Robin Hobb. So I figured the best place to start is at the very beginning. Assassin’s Apprentice is the first in the Farseer trilogy – and the first trilogy of many set in Hobb’s fantastical land.
I can’t decide if I like this book – there’s a lot left unexplained, and some stuff over-explained. I felt that it took a long time to get going and then the drama was crammed in all too quickly. My favourite bit was the last few chapters, when everything started to happen and the point of the story became apparent. Don’t get me wrong though – Hobb’s writing is entertaining, creating characters you can relate to and a world that feels very real. But there are certain aspects that I felt stepped away from the story a bit – like the Forged people. But then, I haven’t read the other two in the trilogy, so perhaps all will become clear! Has anyone read all three? Should I overlook those bits in the first book because they reappear in the second and third?
Someone once described Hobb’s books as “beginner fantasy”. This is not a derogatory way of putting it at all. Hobb writes accessible, entertaining fantasy that is a good starting point if you have never read fantasy before. It’s not intense fantasy that overwhelms you with supernatural, magical and strange creatures. It’s realistic – as much as fantasy can be – and it’s a good start if you’re worried that fantasy is too much for you. Perhaps because I’ve read fantasy before, it doesn’t quite reach the entertainment level it should have done.
Next book: The next book on the list is not a fantasy. In fact, it’s The Go-Away Bird by Warren FitzGerald.