Series: Farseer Trilogy
Author info: http://www.robinhobb.com/
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.
I feel like sharing a select few books from my massive TBR I have reserved for my summer reading. The Goodreads reviews, covers and the blurbs are quite promising and I think I will have a great time reading these.
If you like dark, dystopian fantasy or epic fantasy with a dark twist you might want to consider adding them to your reading list.
The Riven Wyrde Saga series by Graham Austin-King is the first in my list. This is a dark faery tale, which is right up my alley. I read plenty of grimdark but this will be the first grimdark fairy tale I will be reading. The first book of the series was the semifinalist for the best Kindle reads award and received plenty of high praise from the Goodreads and Reddit /r/Fantasy folks. The second one has excellent reviews, too, but I just skimmed through them for the fear of spoilers. I will start reading this series as soon as I’m done reading Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence (which is a superb read, btw!)
The 3rd book of the series is not released yet so I should be able to read these two before it’s out.
The next book I’m mighty curious about and dying to read is Peter Newman’s debut novel The Vagrant. It’s fresh off the press, published just a few days ago from Harper Voyager. The cover grabbed my eye when I saw friends sharing it on Facebook. The blurb is quite intriguing and sounds like something I’d totally love. I have a thing for mysterious characters and the main character of this book is as mysterious as they come, judging from the blurb and a couple of reviews.
The next in my list is the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. My co-bloggers at Grimdark Alliance have reviewed it and I really need to catch up since this excellent series is one of the must-reads of grimdark fantasy.
The last one in the list the Aspect-Emperor series by R. Scott Bakker. I loved The Prince of Nothing to death and it left me with a major book hangover. I have been holding off on reading its sequel, The Aspect-Emperor, cause its 3rd book is not out yet. I’m dying to know what happens next and what evils the dreaded Consult are stirring, what Achamian is planning to do and whether Kellhus turns out to be a hero or villain.
This pretty much sums up my summer vacation reading list so far. Whether I will get to read all of them before the end of the summer is another question. There’s nothing like the joy of reading grimdark under the mediterranean sun!