Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Assassin's Apprentice
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Farseer Trilogy
Author info:

Where do I start? It has been such an intense experience for me to read this series, I’m having a hard time putting it into words. I have been pretty much living in the Farseer world for the past week, unable to put it down and completely immersed into the story.

The worldbulding is done in such rich detail, I didn’t miss playing Skyrim while reading this book. It’s incredibly realistic and vivid. What’s even more vivid is the characters and the relationships between them. The book is written in first person, from the point of view of Fitz. It starts with Fitz being dumped at his father’s doorstep by his maternal grandfather at age six. Fitz is a royal bastard born from the illegitimate union between the crown prince Chivalry and a common woman.

The society has very strict rules and bastards are treated as vermin even if they have royal blood. Fitz is taken under the care of his father’s stablemaster Burrich, where he also discovers he can communicate with animals by a mind magic called the Wit. But this is seen as an abomination and people with Wit magic are heavily persecuted, even lynched. Bummer for poor Fitz. His father abdicates in favor of his younger brother Verity out of shame for fathering a bastard and moves away, which places Fitz in an even more difficult position.

Stablemaster Burrich becomes a father figure for Fitz and the relationship between the two is one of the most emotionally intense things I’ve ever read. Burrich is a complex character, you don’t realize it at first but as the book progresses and layer after layer is revealed, he became one of my favorites. He is one of the best fantasy characters I’ve read to date. The life in the stables was so good to read, with everything so alive, I could almost smell the fresh straw.

Fitz ends up becoming the apprentice for King’s assassin, Chade, as the title of the book suggests (therefore I don’t count this as a spoiler) and Chade is the character to fall in love with. He is quite enigmatic, living in the shadows, no one even knows he exists other than the king himself. Chade’s secret chamber reminded me of the alchemist labs from old Renaissance paintings. I loved, loved, loved the detail of it. Chade has many secrets and is shrouded in mystery. If you love assassins and enigmatic characters, you will love Chade. He is also kind of a great spymaster, with eyes and ears everywhere and hardly anything escapes his notice.

The other stunning character to mention is the king’s fool, who talks in riddles and makes awful jests with his sharp tongue. He becomes a friend to Fitz and annoys him with his strange talk making no sense. But then some events unfold and it starts making sense, and you get those ‘holy cow!’ moments. The Fool is something more than a court jester, full of mysteries and puzzles. I had a feeling he will become a pivotal character later on in the series and I wasn’t wrong.

The kingdom of six duchies faces an outside threat soon enough, Red Ship raiders fro the Outislands start ravaging the coasts and laying the villages to waste, killing some of the folk and turning some into creepy husks of humans, something even worse than zombies. But this is more of a nuisance than a major threat, at least at first, the real vileness is to be found in the internal politics and court intrigue. If you love political intrigue, you will be a fan.

One other thing I really loved about this book is that each chapter starts with snippets of information about the history of the world, relevant to the events taking place in the chapters, each time another intriguing mystery being uncovered and leaves you aching for the next.

The magic system is very simple but wonderful, it’s mainly different kinds of telepathy with interesting aspects.

This book is solid with astonishing character development, impressive plot and incredibly detailed worldbuilding. Everything is so vivid and alive, the main characters are so real and likeable, I got detached from the real world while reading it. It’s a sad story, a lot of depressing things happen and life is so damn harsh, which makes you cherish the precious moments of peace and happiness when they happen.

Verdict: You will love me forever if you take my word and read this book (and its badass sequels!)

Robin Hobb is a master wordsmith, she created the best heroic characters I have read since The Empire Trilogy, and I made a promise to myself to read all fantasy books she has written.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

  1. I became a Robin Hobb fan forever when I read these books! I went on to read the rest of her series and loved them as well. She also wrote earlier books under the name Megan Lindholm which I have on my TBR. Great review! You’re right that people will love you forever if they take your word and read them!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s so great to hear! i was going to get the Liveship Traders but Barnes & Noble gave me too much trouble over the payment (cause I am an expat and they don’t like doing business with people living outside the US) and it’s too much work to buy it on Amazon and convert to Nook format so I started reading Gentleman Bastard series until i sort out the payment options with Barnes&Noble Nook store. Robin Hobb is such a storyteller, if I get another cat I’ll name him Nighteyes 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminds me of ASOIAF’s Littlefinger:

    “He is also kind of a great spymaster, with eyes and ears everywhere and hardly anything escapes his notice.”

    I’ve been curious about Robin Hobb’s work for quite awhile, thank you for sharing.:) I’m glad you loved the book!

    Fantastic review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this book, but I had some troubles getting into Hobb’s prose, and her storytelling felt a little shallows a part. There were place where we’d only get Fit’z brief summary narration of what happened off the page, rather then us, the readers, being witness to the event first-hand.

    However, 100% agree with your on her characters. Fitz was amazingly developed!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – Thornton Berry Shire Press

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