Author: Robin Hobb
Release date: This edition 2014, first published 1995
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Historical Fantasy
Target audience: Adult
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Series: Book 1 The Farseer Trilogy
Assassin’s Apprentice is an epic fantasy novel. It’s set in a world of kings, princes, allies and assassins. It’s an epic tale – rich on historical world-building.
This book absorbed from start to finish. It wasn’t a quick read. It was a slow burner that had me wanting to read into the wee hours because I was just so engrossed. I liked that it was sumptuous in the detail. This book felt like a fantasy rite of passage. Robin Hobb is obviously a huge name in my favourite genre and yet I had never read anything by her. I’m so glad I came across this book in the public library.
Fitz is the illegitimate son of Prince Chivalry Farseer. His earliest memory is of being dumped by his maternal grandfather at the feet of Burrich - his father’s loyal servant. Fitz grows up in the stables where Burrich tends to the horses, dogs and hawks. He grows up an outsider – always being viewed as “the bastard” child. He feels acute loneliness and yet great loyalty to the King and his uncle Prince Verity. There comes a time when he charged to learn magic known as the Skill. It is a dangerous pursuit under the instruction of a vile and cruel teacher. It tests him to the limit and it could break him. But without the Skill, the kingdom of the Six Duchies may fall to the evil Red Raiders and their mysterious soul-stealing.
The novel is told from Fitz’s point of view. At the beginning of each chapter there is an excerpt from the history of the Farseer and their kingdom of the Six Duchies. It’s the story of Fitz’s many roles in Buckkeep. He assists Burrich with the animals. He spends time training with weapons. He, as the title suggests, becomes the assassin’s apprentice. Not something a person might want to be but is driven to out of loyalty. It is a book about fate – sometimes our name dictates our nature, sometimes our circumstances. Sometimes it is merely that we are a pawn in other peoples’ games.
The characterisation is excellent. You feel every single breath Fitz takes but you also come to love Burrick, admire Verity and fear Galen. It is quite something the way this book is written. It really haunted me when I wasn’t reading it. I kept wondering about what would happen next. I loved that the author didn’t take the easy route. Characters are maimed, killed and utterly tormented. It made reading this book surprising, full of anticipation and an absolute nail-biting pleasure. If you haven’t read anything by robin Hobb, then begin with the Assassin’s Apprentice. You will not be disappointed. It was incredible!
Source: Borrowed from the public library.