Thursday, January 21, 2016

"Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1)" by Robin Hobb

I'd already made progress on my list of authors I wanted to read in 2016 by reading Octavia Butler's work, so I figured I may as well try reading Assassin's Apprentice to get Robin Hobb off my list as well. While I wasn't really impressed with the beginning of this book, I read on due to curiosity, which evolved into addiction at the halfway point. Fitz, for all his frequent insipidity, had begun to grow on me.

While you enter the book with the expectation of wild adventure, Assassin's Apprentice is a more mild form of the assassin storyline. Fitz has some growing up to do in the beginning, as well as progressing as a character before he can be all that the title claims he will be. I enjoyed Fitz's childhood days, but throughout the book I couldn't help but notice the lack of female characters. We have two minor female characters who I liked, but I would've liked it more if their presence wasn't as peripheral.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'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.'

Fitz grows up in the stables under the purview of his father's right hand man, Burrich, and develops a bond with the animals there- a bond that goes beyond the mundane. He can see, smell, and act through his link to the animal, which happens to be a magical taboo. While there are many animals featured in the book, it didn't precisely win me (for a slightly spoilery reason).

The villains featured in this book reminded me more of the Harry Potter type than the A Game of Thrones type. In other words, they're pretty dang mean and conniving, but it isn't as over-the-top as some books take it. There are scenes I read while wincing and peering through my eyelashes, though, as I wasn't sure if the violence would stop or continue. Funny how I never read A Song of Ice and Fire like that- I guess I anticipated the gore.

An interesting piece of dialogue:

"When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool, you end up sounding like a moron instead."
             ~Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb, page 209 Kindle edition

Assassin's Apprentice begins innocently enough, but builds complexity from those humble roots. In some ways, it's more a coming of age novel than it is your typical epic fantasy, but I devoured every word regardless. If you don't mind a slower start in your fantasy books and like some political machinations as the book progresses, I recommend Assassin's Apprentice for your next read.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for an exceptional coming of age fantasy!

Content: Ages 16+ for some scenes where the violence gets pretty M-Rated.

Page Count: 480 pages


  1. My husband didn't like this one and so I haven't gotten around to reading it despite my initial interest in it. It's silly really given he and I don't always like the same books. I do want to give this one a try at some point.

    1. It's kind of hard to put this in a category or compare this one to another book- it's original, but a lot of what's in it is somewhat expected in fantasy. I read a negative review of this once and almost gave up on ever reading it (one of the things mentioned was the protagonist being bland-ish), but the high star rating on Goodreads made me give it a shot. I'm glad I did- it's the first fantasy I've completed in a while.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Wendy!
      ~Litha Nelle

  2. I skipped your current review of the second book and came here instead, just in case I decide to read this series at some point. I am intrigued because sometimes insipid characters are endearing to me. :)

    1. Fitz does improve with age- but during the first book he annoyed me at points. Later on there's so many great characters that I don't regret diving into this series. I'm always cautious to mark series reviews with "possible spoiler" tags because I've been spoiled by "spoiler-free" series reviews before.
      Thanks for stopping by and chiming in, La La!
      ~Litha Nelle


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