Official Synopsis from Amazon: Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.
As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
Review: Loved. Loved. Loved this! An excellent, clean, fantasy novel with complex characters.
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is the start to The Farseer Trilogy, and is also the place to start if you are interested in reading Robin Hobb’s books. Telling the story of Fitz, a wonderful, complex character, Assassin’s Apprentice has magic, intrigue, animals, and some serious world building.
Fitz is the illegitimate son of Chivalry, the eldest son of King Shrewd. Fitz is taken in by the stablemaster, Burrich, and Fitz learns how to care for the horses and dogs. Chivalry is killed early on, and Fitz comes to the attention of the King, and the King starts him on assassin training.
The assassin training was intriguing and thoughtful, taking into account the many different ways to kill someone (quickly, slowly, etc) and also how to think of perhaps different ways to achieve a goal without killing someone. Chade, the man who teaches Fitz in the art of assassination, is a fascinating character. He’s mysterious and knowledgeable, but perhaps also a bit manipulative.
Fitz himself is a great character. He is thoughtful and kind, and besides having the Skill; he also can use the Wit, an ancient magic where he can communicate with animals and sense people. I’m not so sure I understand exactly what the Wit and the Skill are, but that doesn’t really matter here. It’s magic and I love it.
One of the relationships I really loved was the one between Fitz and the stablemaster who takes him in, Burrich. There was tension and reality to their scenes together. They don’t always get along, and there are questionable decisions by each character along the way, but I really enjoyed reading their interaction.
Another fascinating character is that of the Fool. I’ve always had an interest in fools in literature, there is always more going on there than people think, and I think the Fool was done with perfection here.
What about the female characters you say? Well there are great female characters as well! I loved Patience, Chivalry’s wife, and Molly, a girl in town who befriends Fitz. There are many great characters here, and I have a feeling that the more Robin Hobb books I read, the more wonderful characters I will meet. I could go on and on about different characters in this book!
One of the aspects of Assassin’s Apprentice that I loved is that it is written in a way (somewhat similar to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire) where the story is slowly building in the background, and you don’t really realize it until someone says something that references another scene, and I found myself flipping back and re-reading sections with my newfound knowledge. This was somewhat annoying to do on the Kindle. And this kind of tying things together doesn’t feel forced here, instead it feels natural and fitting.
There is a lot of world-building here, and some may find the descriptions too detailed and too slow. They didn’t bother me. Books like this I’m inclined to give a bit of leeway to in terms of building the worlds they are set in, and I’m not in a hurry to race to the end. I don’t mind learning about the world, or reading descriptions of the towns and way of life. This helps me get a feel for setting, so I welcome it in fantasy novels.
And did I mention this book was clean? There is a bit of violence, but nothing too graphic. I don’t recall any sex or any language.
I can’t wait to read more of Robin Hobb’s works involving Fitz. He’s a great character, and OH! THAT ENDING!
Bottom Line: Wonderful and magical, with complex characters. A must-read for any fan of fantasy.
You also might like to read:
- George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, which starts with A Game of Thrones links to Amazon and Goodreads
- Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle, which begins with A Wizard of Earthsea. Read my review HERE and also links to Amazon and Goodreads