I’ve heard great things about Robin Hobb and the Farseer trilogy, and I was finally able to snag a cheap copy of the first book. Assassin’s Apprentice tells the story of FitzChivalry, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, who is brought up by the royal family. He has no real status, but King Shrewd takes an interest in him and trains him to be an assassin and a King’s Man.
Assassin’s Apprentice is a pretty straightforward first book in a fantasy series. It’s a coming of age story, about Fitz discovering his place, learning about life and having a few adventures. However, the writing and the descriptions of the world and characters make it very compelling. The magic systems are also really interesting – there are two major systems: the Wit and the Skill. The Wit is much despised and considered perverse, whereas the Skill is the magic of the Farseer line. As a bastard, Fitz has both. It’s a tumultuous time in the empire, with barbaric Red Ship Raiders harrying the coast of the Six Duchies, and royals and nobles plotting within the keep walls.
I don’t mean to imply that the book is entirely predictable – there are definitely a few tropes that are broken. Fitz is an assassin, not a hero. He is quiet and in the shadows, and he gets the job done. He’s far more likely to use poison than a sword (or magic.)
The supporting characters are really well-drawn. Burrich, the loyal servant to Prince Chivalry and father-figure to Fitz, the lady Patience, Chade the assassin and even Hands the stable boy. We get to know everyone really well as the book goes on, and like them all.
I always like a healthy dose of political intrigue, and Assassin’s Apprentice does not disappoint. Even though Fitz has been trained since he was young, it’s still very interesting to read about his various missions, and see how chance encounters can have far reaching effects in the empire.
I won’t say any more for fear of spoilers, but this is definitely a must read!
- “Shadow of Stone” by Ruth Nestvold
- “The Warded Man” by Peter V. Brett