Shame on me for not having started to read this series (and all that come afterwards!) and learn about the queen of fantasy. Robin Hobb is most certainly an incredibly gifted author and the book genuinely reflects the intricacy and interest that the story brings with it.
Let’s start with the basics.
The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Published March 1996 by Voyager
I also love the cover that was used in the 2011 publication, lovely, simple, cool and highly influenced by the miniatures on books “printed” in Medieval times.
I had so many thoughts while reading the book and I was entirely excited about every single line I was reading. Actually, the more I write about it, the more I feel like starting Royal Assassin immediately.
So let’s delve into the review! I know the book has been out there for quite some time but I still think the spoiler warning is key to avoid accidental spoilers!
First and foremost, the book is a first person story and it is so successful in that. I rarely like books told in first person – it is difficult to keep my attention, to keep having the same point of view and not be fed with the character. This book instead could not be better, it took me a long time actually to rationally realize that the book was told in first person.
There is an aspect that mostly characterizes and makes the book stand out from other fantasy stories: The characters and their interactions; there is something magical and unique about the relationships that Hobb describes. Very authentic, very personal and very realistic I found. Fitz is an abandoned child, left in the care of a man he does not know, and having to find his way being a bastard son of a prince of the Farseer family.
He had to find his way in a difficult place, trying to be mostly invisible, trained to be invisible yet he is unique. I also love his fatherly relationships with Burrich and Chade, especially the one Fitz has with Chade, a man who lived a very similar life. Yet, there is one of the most important relationships that is cultivated in the second half of the story, the connection Fitz develops with Verity. Verity is so interesting, a great prince and a model king-in-waiting.
I also genuinely loved the magic system which is an aspect yet is not developed just yet, or at least I hope it is just the beginning of something more!
The Wit and The Skill, they are just spectacular. I love the use of the Wit, the ability to bond with animals; and I wish I had that ability in real life! And I love the Skill, the ability to use the mind, I guess it might be telepathy. I also like how the Wit is considered an ability that needs to be hidden (for fear of ones life really) and how it is considered secondary than the Skill. In particular, the Skill is actually fostered and trained in the Six Duchies. The training is quite brutal and we will find out that Galen, the teacher, attempts to kill Fitz in several occasions and that he is an ally to Regal and his plot to destroy Fitz (as collateral damage in this delusional approach to gaining access to the seventh Duchy with capital in Jhaampe.
Finally and most importantly. HOW COOL IS THE FOOL? I cannot wait to know all about the Fool. Who is he/she? Where does he/she come from? What skills (or Skill) does he/she have? There is so much to know and I cannot wait to understand who he is and what he does and how he does it!
Also, final thought is that you need so many tissues to get through the deaths of the dogs. They are so important, vital really to Fitz and his development. Fundamental really but the deaths hurt, they genuinely affected me.
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Have you read the book and/or the trilogy and/or the series? Do you agree with my comments above? Have you a different experience of the Six Duchies? Write your thoughts in the comment section below!