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

Rating: ★★★★

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.

Review

This will just be a casual review as I know that the majority of fantasy fans on my friends list will have read/ at least know of this book.

This was an interesting reading experience for me. It only took me about 5 years to finish! I tried it 3 times and couldn’t get further than the 30% point. I attempted it in it’s paperback and audiobook form but to no avail. That being stated, I still knew it wasn’t a bad tale, so I put it back on the shelf for another time in 1, 5, 10, or 20 years when I would give it another go.

I always found the start a bit dull and it couldn’t keep my interest. Apart from Fitz and his pup Nosey, nothing about the characters or the world really enticed me to continue. Recently, I’ve been suffering from insomnia and if I’m being truthful I started listening to the Audiobook of this again hoping it would put me to sleep. It didn’t. I’d listened to half the whole narrative in one night and it was like I was reading a different book. It was a blessing come from hardship as I was really enjoying it. At that point, it was a win-win. Either I could sleep, or I could carry on listening to this great story.

A young boy is left at the gates of a castle and a soldier is told that he is the King-in-Waiting Prince Chivalry’s bastard child. This happens when he is 5 years old and we spend Assassin’s Apprentice following in Fitz’s first-person footsteps for approximately 10 years. After the first 30%, names such as Shrewd, Regal, Verity, Chivalry, Patience and such stop being confusing and I could truly distinguish who was who, their differences, allegiances, motives and it was an awesome feeling. Chances are, most of the ensemble have a problem with this Royal Bastard turning up and Fitz doesn’t have many allies. My favourite characters were father-figure Burrich, honourable Prince Verity, the Fool, and the assassin master Chade. The best parts, however, are probably Fitz’s use of the Wit. This is a very rare skill which allows wielders of such talents to communicate with animals. The second highlight for me was Fitz lessons and training exercises/ tasks assigned to him by Chade. We don’t see too much magic in Assassin’s Apprentice but in addition to ‘the Wit’ there is also the mysterious ‘the Skill,’ which we find out more about as the tale goes on. Some of ‘the Skill’ lessons in the second half of the narrative were pretty harrowing to read.

Although it has it’s slower, more thought-provoking sections, and occasionally Fitz has a woe-is-me-the-world-hates-me-moments (which of course they do) some of the action segments, dramatic confrontations, and political what-the-hell-is-going-on?-intrigue are top-notch.

I won’t say much more apart from that I finished reading this in 2 days and will 100% be carrying on with this series as soon as I can. Once again, this is a classic example of that if you don’t enjoy a book, put it back on the shelf because an older/uglier/wiser/cleverer you in the future might find it exceptional.

3 thoughts on “Review: Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb

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