Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Series: Farseer Trilogy #1
Published by Del Rey
Published on: November 5 2002
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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.
I did a research paper on Edmund from KING LEAR when I took a literature course on Shakespeare in college. The focus was on his illegitimacy and how by constantly being mocked and disparaged about his less than noble birth (by the nobles he was forced to associate with), he had two choices: become a simpering plaything for his “betters,” or turn on them.
Aaahhh, the clarity of youth. *snorts*
Fitz is a bastard.
Dumped on the castle steps as a child by a grandfather who no longer cared to feed and clothe him, he began training to befit his station . . . as an assassin.
Like Edmund, he fits nowhere and is alternately treated with disdain and absent-minded disregard. Fitz is forced to endure cruel tests to prove his loyalty to the king, tests that jeopardize the fragile relationship with the one person he trusts . . . He is alone.
That’s one of the few complaints I have about this book: a heavy-handed emphasis on Fitz’s loneliness.
Despite this isolation and constant ridicule, Fitz neither suffers the mistreatment with a smile nor betrays benefactor(s).
Fitz is loyal.
Initially, the loyalty is somewhat manipulated into existence, but once it’s there, Fitz finds his own reasons to remain devoted.
He’s the compromise, the protagonist who rises above his circumstances that my decade-younger self didn’t have the patience to imagine. Which is unfortunate, b/c the Bastard Hero makes for a much more interesting character than the more common Bastard Villain.
The other characters as well as the world-building were likewise interesting and complex, but I found the plot somewhat lacking at times.
This is a trilogy, so I knew there would be threads left unexplained/unresolved, but what appears to be the main storyline—the Red-Ship Raiders—was so unexplained/unresolved that it seemed secondary to this installment’s conflict.
Secondary and unrelated except in a few tangential ways.
Also, my #1 Rule: once you’re dead, you’re dead, wasn’t exactly broken, but Hobb made it dance a merry jig, walking a very fine line (several times) in that regard.
Death is meant to be permanent. If a character dies, you grieve. If an author miraculously brings that character back to life, your grief is wasted, and the next time a character dies, you don’t trust it. You don’t trust the author.
And if you can’t trust the author, what’s the point?
SO. A couple of minor issues aside, ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE by Robin Hobb was a solid start to what is one of the best-loved fantasy trilogies available. I’m not even a dog person, but Hobb’s insightful personification of various hounds had me longing for my own, and the King’s Fool who definitely is not, are just two of the reasons I’ll definitely be reading the next installment. Recommended.
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I haven’t read high fantasy for years, but, when done well, I love a bastard hero–and when tropes (such as the bastard villain) are on turned on their head. Great review!
E.J. Stevens recently posted…Paranormal Road Trip: Destination London with Pippa DaCosta
I’ve been meaning to try this for ages, but I heard it gets depressing. I agree, characters who miraculously come back to life ruin the worrying for their safety thing. I think I’d prefer the bastard villain hehe Anti-Heroes have more fun.
Molly Mortensen recently posted…The Shadow Revolution By Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
I have seen these around but I am not sure if I am that type of fantasy reader..lol. Part of me wants to try one but another part is not sure. 🙂 Great review!
Stormi recently posted…Audiobook review of Something to Talk About
I read these ages ago, oh book 2 had my heart breaking
blodeuedd recently posted…Boneshaker – Cherie Priest
One of my brother’s favorite series 🙂
Felicia recently posted…Audiobook Review: Still the One by Jill Shalvis
This is completely new to me but it does sound super interesting and I love a good loyal character, even a lonely one. 😉
Great review Jessica!
kindlemom1 recently posted…WoW Pick of the Week!
I’ve been wanting to try this series. I think I’ll like/hate/like/hate Fitz. LOL I am a dog person so you know you had me intrigued with the last bit of your review. 😀
Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…On My Wishlist: Riders by Veronica Rossi
I listened to this series a while back and enjoyed it greatly. I love the Fool. 🙂
BookaholicCat recently posted…2015 Audiobook Challenge: 2nd Quarter Update
This is one of my all-time favorite series!! I have just adored it and I’m so happy that Hobb is coming back to these characters!
Nicole recently posted…The Forgotten Mountain by Heather Lyons – 5 Star Review & Giveaway
See I AM a dog person and this one makes me excited to discover the personalities of various dogs! That’s so cute. This is definitely a well loved series that I haven’t quite ventured into yet, so thanks for your review Jess.
Jeann recently posted…Kissing in America by Margo Rabb Review: A Roadtrip of Discovery
I was very intrigued about the book because of the whole Bastard Hero that trains to become an assassin, really who wouldn’t want to read that?
But then you had to go and mention the hounds and being the huge dog person that I am… I need to read the book now!
Pili recently posted…Friday Reads: A Court of Thorns & Roses and The Girl At Midnight!!
I have it as kindle freebie, but what I really want is to listen to it on audio:-) glad you enjoyed it enough to continue.
kara-karina recently posted…The Postman Knock #127
I have read and enjoyed this series a long time ago, in Dutch. Robin Hobb is ony of my favourite fantasy authors.
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