“A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history of its ruling family, the Farseers.”First line in Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Author: Robin Hobb
Published: May 1995
Series: Farseer Trilogy, book one
Buzzwords: Orphan, court politics, the ultimate animal companion trope
Synopsis: 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 like 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.
The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb is a trilogy that has been on my TBR for years as one of those must-read fantasy series. I’ve been very vary of starting it, though, because there are so many things about its premise that I usually don’t like. I don’t like the trope of someone telling their life story. I don’t get particularly excited over animal companions. I don’t like reading about children. It’s also kind of old and I don’t usually get along with classic fantasy.
So imagine my great surprise when I realized that I had to rate this book 5 stars upon finishing it. Nothing less could reflect the reading experience I had just had. All the things I mentioned weren’t things that bothered me at all in this book. And in this spoiler-free section, I really want to give credit to the writing for that feat. It’s just brilliant! Even though, this book is quite slow, the writing made me enjoy every second of it.
However, I do realize that this book isn’t going to be for everyone because of its pacing. But if you like character-focused books about court intrigue, and if you like your books to be very dark and depressing, you need to read this.
Before I go into spoiler, here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“It was a impressive display of good food abused in the name of fashionable cooking.”
“My silences he mistook for a lack of wit rather than a lack of any need to speak.”
“Do not take it amiss, bastard, but I do not wish to seem associated with you.”
“Take it not amiss, lordling, that I feel the same about you.”
That was it for the spoiler-free section of this post. Down below, I’ve written down the thoughts I had while reading the book, so you can see for yourself how I slowly descended into despair with every page. So SPOILER WARNING!
🦌 I cannot help but draw parallels to The Name of the Wind in the beginning. I mean, it’s an adult telling the reader about his childhood, so it’s hard not to. Also, that whole sequence with Fitz running around the city with the other children. The Name of the Wind has something similar, but way longer.
🦌 I love how the members of the royal family are named after the personality trait they embody the most. It’s a curious little twist Hobb has added to aid her characterizations, even when the traits don’t fit. And then the explanation of it made me laugh! Like “Yeah, the names are totally random but better to have the common folk believe in magic”.
🦌 Fitz breaking down crying because of his loneliness… I felt that in my soul.
🦌 Wait, wait. So Chade was Lady Thyme… the whole time?? What! That’s so clever! Why did I not suspect anything? She had people to visit everywhere, so she was always coming along on every trip. She hides away all the time so nobody sees her, and whenever people come close, she’s so rude that they make an effort to stay away. Can you tell that I’m going to question everything from now on?
🦌 Lady Patience stepping in to care about Fitz but in the weirdest way is a twist I didn’t see coming.
🦌 Okay, Galen, you need to have a very painful death at some point in this trilogy. Preferably already in this book.
🦌 After being beaten and abused by Galen, Hobb really shows how broken Fitz is by having him defend his abuser. He’s been told he’s worthless so many times that he now believes it. My heart can’t handle this! But I love it when fantasy draws so clear parallels to real-world issues.
🦌 I’ve noticed how Fitz has quite a few mentors/father figures in his life and my fantasy-brain can’t help but go: “Oh, look at all these people who are going to die soon.”
🦌 STOP KILLING THE DOGS!!!
🦌 Gotta say I’m not that invested in his storyline with Molly. I just feel like there’s going to be some forced romance in the future, and I’m not sure I’m going to like it.
🦌 NOSY!! 😍😍 He’s not dead!! Thank you, Robin Hobb. You tricked me again, but thank you. *Editing Line coming back after finishing the book* aaaand he’s gone again… This book is giving me trust issues.
🦌 THAT ENDING!! I was so confused and desperately trying to figure out what was going on but loving every second of it. That is what I mean when I say that I love my books to be political. That was amazing! I’m also leaving this book quite suspicious over the fact that despite all that happened, Shrewd got what he wanted anyway: Rurisk dead. I don’t trust it. But hey, Galen died! Not as painfully as I’d hoped but I’ll take it.
Yeah, I loved this book. I finally know what all the fuss is about with Hobb, and according to most reviews I’ve seen, this isn’t even close to being the best one. I’m so incredibly excited to continue.
Have you read Assassin’s Apprentice? Please share your thoughts about it in the comment section!