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review 2020-04-20 15:54
Fool's Assassin
Fool's Assassin - Robin Hobb

by Robin Hobb

 

Having read Assassin's Apprentice and enjoyed what I've read of the Farseer series, I could not resist when I saw that reviews were wanted for Fool's Assassin, the first book of a related trilogy with Fitz as an adult, now called FitzChivalry Farseer. There are plenty of references to people and events from the first book of the first series to make a connection and to explain significant elements to readers new to the series.

 

The story begins with a letter written by Queen Desire, second queen to King Shrewd and enemy to Fitz, or anyone else she may perceive as standing between her son and the throne. Fitz thinks the queen was behind his father's murder, though much time has passed and he is now in middle age and has a grown daughter.

 

There are several new characters to add to the familiar ones and the sense of intrigue begins pretty much immediately with the arrival of a group of suspicious minstrels with no instruments to a mid-winter celebration, as well as a strange messenger who Fitz doesn't go to see right away because he is needed as host to his party.

 

Hobb's naming conventions are consistent in that characters are given obvious names according to their positions in the court. The story does a good job of explaining salient points from the previous series well so that new readers will be able to follow what's going on and references to things like the Forged, even if they have not read all of the books. I became aware that I have missed much about the Foil and a pet wolf in the intervening books, but the references brought me up to speed.

 

The book also clearly explains the difference between the Wit, which is a psychic connection on an animal level, and the Skill, which is human to human mind communication. These abilities play a significant role in both series.

 

One thing that bothered me about this one is that Fitz, who was trained to be an assassin at a young age, is not paranoid enough when the dodgy entertainers are observed. For someone with his history, he doesn't seem to have much of a sense of preservation.

 

When blood is spilled during his holiday celebration, he realizes that he enjoys the hunt on an animal level because of an affinity he had formed with his wolf in an earlier story. The Skill is convenient for communication with family from different parts of the manor as he seeks for clues and his animal senses from the Wit show their true value when a crisis requires getting past a lock against the Skill to save the life of an important character. It becomes apparent that writing his chronicles has played an important role in the earlier books and that a legendary entity known as the White prophet plays a key role in this story.

 

The story is well told, yet I found it rather depressing. Middle age, failing health of his wife and painful memories of much of his past life conspire to make the story all too reminiscent, though there is action if you can get past the first few chapters. The story is left with an obvious intent towards continuation, but I felt the series had already reached a point where it feels tired. I'm hoping to see the author move on to something new as she has shown that she can weave a decent fantasy tale and it would be of interest to see how her writing matures.

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review 2020-04-16 12:54
Assassin's Apprentice
Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb

by Robin Hobb

 

This is an excellent fantasy story in the old traditional sword and sorcery sense. It's about a boy, born a royal bastard, who is thrust into his father's family with all the intrigues and dangers that go with being a loose end in the line of succession.

 

The story is very well written and although I seldom read stories with child protagonists, this one was worth making an exception. The characters are distinctive and interesting as individuals, even if their names are rather cheesy. The more likeable ones include an assassin, a rough keeper of animals, the boy himself (generally referred to as Fitz, as his father never game him a name) and a shrewd grandfather who is known as *cough* King Shrewd. Oh my...

 

The fun thing about assassins is that they are full of surprises. Just when the plot seems to be going along predictably, something comes out of left field to change the game.

 

Somewhere after 40% it does begin to drag a little, and then to meander in plot. However, the political intrigues that are the real strength of the story are further developed so that by 90% I was really interested again and wondering how it was all going to get wrapped up with so little time left. I feared a cliffhanger ending that would try to blackmail me into buying book 2, when the price of the further episodes is rather high in my opinion for something I would describe as Fantasy Lite. Yes it's a good story, but it's fairly simple and will appeal to those who like to read a lot of YA and prefer stories with a single protagonist, rather than the sort of complications of keeping up with something like George R.R. Martin's Songs of Ice and Fire series.

 

I just have a preference for stories that will stretch my brain cells, although I can enjoy light entertainment as well. This one did pick up with loads of action in the final stretch. I didn't like some of the conclusions, but at least the story did wrap up with tidy closing stages so that I wasn't left on that cliff. A few loose ends were obviously left so that the saga can continue, but despite the story starting well, I think it will continue without me to follow along. I enjoyed reading it, but there were just some final elements that left me with phrases like "Why didn't you..." "You couldn't possibly let him..." and similar rants echoing through my head.

 

I give it 4 stars for writing ability, but only 3.5 for plot detail. Too many things just didn't ring true in the end.

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review 2020-02-26 23:40
Assassin's Quest
Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb

This book I liked ,but I think my favorite character was "Nighteyes".He is the wolf that Fitz is bonded with.Fitz and Nighteyes hunt together,fight together and take the journey together.He is a real friend.

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review 2019-11-01 21:47
Assassin's Apprentice / Robin Hobb
Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb

Fitz is a royal bastard, cast out into the world with only his magical link with animals for solace and companionship.
But when Fitz is adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and learn a new life: weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly. Meanwhile, raiders ravage the coasts, leaving the people Forged and soulless. As Fitz grows towards manhood, he will have to face his first terrifying mission, a task that poses as much a risk to himself as it does to his target: Fitz is a threat to the throne… but he may also be the key to the future of the kingdom.

 

What a pleasure to read something so engaging and well written after a few less-than-stellar choices! Fantasy is my favourite genre and Robin Hobb writes just what I like to read. In some ways, this tale is absolutely stereotypical--an orphan boy, a mysterious background but likely with royal connections, and special talents that he discovers as he grows. In those ways, it is reminiscent of The Dragonbone Chair or Magician: Apprentice. With Fitz’s ability to bond to animals, I was also reminded of Anne McCaffray’s Pern.

It is Hobb’s skill that makes this novel such a pleasure to read. She describes things well without going overboard. Her sentences flow, allowing me to immerse myself in the world without being overly aware of the words. Her characters perform actions and make assumptions that seem sensible to me. The dialog is natural and the world, although obviously fictional, seems normal despite things that we might call psychic talents. Fitz may get a bit sulky from time to time, but he realizes it quickly and readjusts (unlike Simon in The Dragonbone Chair, who is rather a whiner).

There are a lot of books written about assassins: Grave MercyJhereg, and Spider's Bite are just a few examples. But Fitz is the first fictional assassin with whom I have felt connected--I could sense his loneliness and the desire for true human contact. I’ve planned to read the second book in the series before the end of the year, but I am now really looking forward to it!

Book number 329 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-09-08 20:44
Royal Assassin
Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb

I liked reading this,Fitz is still looked down upon.But he has gotten older and gotten a girlfriend.His fighting skills have gotten better and they have sent him away from the keep to help towns along the shoreline.For awhile he was aboard a ship.

 And he had psychic connections with a wolf (which was helpful).

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