Novel: Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer #1) by Robin Hobb
Published: April 1st, 1995
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: 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.
I have been wanting to read a Robin Hobb book for a long time. She’s such a fixture in the fantasy genre, and I had never read any of her works. Because I wanted to possibly read them all, and not spoil myself for any of the stories, I decided to read them in the order of the Realms of Elderlings, which starts with the Farseer trilogy and thus with Assassin’s Apprentice. As you may know, I tend to adore assassin stories. While this book was very different from the assassin stories I’ve read previously, I still loved it.
PLOT & WORLD
If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed fantasy story, Assassin’s Apprentice is not the book you’re looking for. It’s not the story of Fitz assassinating person after person. This is a slow-paced coming of age story, in a way. We follow Fitz from a very young age, as he is raised at court and slowly trained in the art of assassination. I guess you could say this book is build-up, and focuses mainly on characterization. Assassin’s Apprentice is very much a character driven novel. And I loved it.
While I enjoy a fast-paced novel, a slower build up of the story and characters allows me to feel for them. It makes me feel like I truly know Fitz, and the people he’s surrounded with. It makes me even more excited to read the following books, because I’m so invested in Fitz’s journey by now.
In a way, this book made me sad. Sad, because I waited so long to read it. I could’ve been loving this story and these characters for years!
Like I mentioned, you slowly get to know the world, the characters and intrigues. As Fitz lives at court, intrigues and schemes are unavoidable. The story line of this book is filled with a giant scheme, and many smaller ones on the side. It weaves the story of a kingdom in times of coming war. I don’t really want to say anything about the plot, because you need to discover all the happenings by yourself!
What is also interesting, is that each person of the royal lineage is defined by his or her name. For example, Prince Verity. He’s an honest and straightforward man. Then there is King Shrewd. And Prince Regal. While Regal is regal in every way, he is obnoxious, rude and condescending too. Yet he is defined by his name, as he is regal in every other way.
Like I said, the slower pace of this book allows for incredible character development. I truly feel like I know Fitz. I know that he is kind, determined and observant. I know that he kind of prefers animals over people at times. I know that he has quite a strong set of morals, and that the job he’s trained to do, the person he will have to become, challenges those morals constantly. You get to feel everything alongside Fitz, and it’s such an amazing journey to go on.
There are many other characters in this book, who all play a part in Fitz’s life. Some I despise, such as Regal and Chade. Others I admire, such as Verity. The point is, every character stirs up some kind of feeling inside. And so much of those feelings are subjective, because you see that person through Fitz’s eyes.
As you can see from my previous comments, I absolutely loved this first book in the trilogy. Although it is slower paced, the characterization is beautiful. I loved this opportunity to get to know Fitz, and become familiar with the land, customs and characters. I will definitely continue on with the series as I can’t wait to see what awaits Fitz.