Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb - REVIEW


Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb

Publication Date: May 1995

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy

 

Synopsis:

In a faraway land where 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 Farseer, 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 embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

 

Thoughts:

I have been wanting to read this book for over 8 years and have FINALLY done it. The North American editions aren’t my favourite covers so I refused to read this series until I had the gorgeous UK editions because I was so sure this was a series that I would want to have pride of place on my shelves.


The sad thing is, now that I have read book 1 (and book 2 at this point), this series is not one that I am overly excited about. I can see why there is so much love for it though. Being able to follow Fitz’s life from a child and into adulthood has been written in such a unique way that you can’t help but get attached to his character.


The reason that I am not overly excited to finish this series (and the Realm of the Elderlings as a whole) is because it is a very slow and quiet fantasy that is 90% character focused. These are not the types of fantasy books that interest me to this series has an uphill battle from the start with me and I wish I had know this before going in but I wanted to avoid spoilers so I did not look into further than reading the synopsis.


I think that Rick Riordan’s review hit the nail on the head as he compared this book to a Charles Dickens’ take on fantasy. Descriptions of simple actions can fill pages and sometimes you are reading a scene for the same length of time that a character would be living it.


What this translates to in my brain though is ‘boring’. I don’t mean it to and I desperately want to love these books but the longer it went on, the less I cared about the story at large. My thoughts on Assassin’s Apprentice has become a little tainted after having just read Royal Assassin admittedly.


The book also does not seem to offer any form of hope. Some people really love a desolate fantasy series but I need someone to root for and for there to be at least some form of payoff but seeing Fitz get beaten down in one form or another for hundreds of pages, seeing the people he is surrounded by using him and making really stupid decisions, realizing that these books are full of adults who take no action… it just becomes draining to read.


This book has also made me question, more than once, where Hobbs’ head was at when she wrote it. It feels like it has been written by someone just wanting to show slow and constant suffering. Even characters who should be on Fitz’s side seem to cast him off repeatedly.


I feel like I would enjoy these books more if they were written from Verity’s POV and bring the reader into the inner sanctum of what is going on and why. I know that it can be argued that the reader can only know as much as Fitz’s knows and that helps us to connect with him, etc. But his life and actions aren’t enough to keep me wanting more. Because wanting more from Fitz’s life is just more depressing moments after another. Verity is at least doing something.


So at this point I have read the first 2 books and own book 3 but will not be reading it any time soon and I don’t think I am interested enough in this writing style to keep going with the large series.

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