May 23, 2016

REVIEW| Assassin's Apprentice

Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy #1)
Robin Hobb


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.



This has to be one of my (many) favourite fantasy covers of all time. It screams that allusive age of "medival" that accompanies many books throughout the fantasy genre. What I like about this new cover that HarperVoyagerUK commisioned was that once you've read the novel, you begin to understand the small details that the cover artist (Jackie Morris and Stephen Raw) have added to this 2014 edition. The feel of the book is like that of calligraphy paper, course and rough, meaning that my sweaty palm don't peel back the plastic coating that I often find on British paperbacks-- fantastic!

Robin Hobb is a author that I have always tried to avoid when it comes to fantasy but, lets be honest here it would've of been just plain rude to ignore one of the most influential female authors on the fantasy market. So I started from the very first book that Hobb had published-- Assassin's Apprentice. 

What I liked about Hobb's writing was the realism and honesty that covers the entirety of the novel that can often be taken away in fantasy novels. It was the first three sentence that hooked me into the novel:

"My pen falters, then falls from my knuckly grip, leaving a worm's trail of ink across Fedwren's paper. I have spoiled another leaf of the fine stuff, in what I suspect is a futile endeavour. I wonder if I can write history, or on every page there will be some sneaking show of bitterness I thought long dead."

I mean, who doesn't want to know, why he is writing about history, who is Fedwren, why is Fitz so bitter?  Hobb's strength is presenting a realistic image of what it means to be a Bastard at court and the brutal reality of death. It's not fantastic and poetic prose that Hobb uses but rather the bluntness of Fitz's own narrative that really sets this brutality to life on the very page Hobb has intended for us to read.

My only concern that I had was that the pacing felt off. It was undeniably slow and I felt that I ended up drifting to other action based plots throughout the months that I went on and off reading this book-- my reason for three stars. I think if I had stuck with it this book would have been a higher rating. I found it hard to remember what event had occured and what particular things meant, adding to confusion.

Where this book lacks in major actional plot it makes up for in the ways that Hobb's characters are comprimised by their political surroundings of the Duchies court. The dense political intrigue being just enough to keep me hanging on til the end to finish this book. Her books are subtle in the worlds and languages of fantasy and brings a sense of fresh air to the dense poetic prose that is so very common.

I will definitely be continuing on with this trilogy and other pieces of Hobb's writing for the hope of her writing improving over the last twenty years. 

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