So this book has been sitting on my shelf for a while, and for the past few weeks it had been staring at me just shouting out READ ME NOW! so I obliged and picked it up and so began another journey into a new fantasy realm. It was a very good read and thought Hobb had written it brilliantly and introduced some great characters. I wish I had more funds so I could go and buy the other two books in the Farseer trilogy but for now I'm just going to have to wait (im)patiently until I can!
So here's my review of Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice:
4.5/5 Stars - Loved it!
This book was quite different to the dark type of fantasy that I’ve enjoyed reading lately (Song of Ice and series etc) but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it. Hobb is a great writer; I totally empathised with the protagonist and narrator, the bastard Fitz and I also felt the authenticity of the world and its characters. The story was engaging; plenty happened so I was always wondering what would happen next and there was a ton of emotional scenes that tugged at your heartstrings and also plenty that made you growl with anger. A great read and a nice introduction to a new fanasy series.
Hobb’s use of the first person narrative was brilliantly executed as I truly felt every little thing that Fitz felt, I hated all the characters that he mistrusted and I felt admiration for those who did not treat him as something dirty, on the bottom of their shoes. And boy, did I hate some of the characters. I really, really hated them and could barely believe what I was reading at some points. You regularly read in fantasy of bastard born individuals, but the mistreatment of Fitz throughout the novel by some individuals was disgusting. And all because of a mistake that his father made. It is just so unfair. His existence by some is seen as a complete mistake, but others such as Verity in particular see him for more than that. I thought Verity was depicted as one of the most compassionate characters of the book, seen when he ruffles Fitz’ hair as a greeting or just talks to him like a friend. I also thought that Regal was an arrogant and pompous idiot who was portrayed brilliantly by Hobb as the perfect baddie. He is a scheming little toad who I wouldn’t mind kicking off a cliff and I’m being very nice in my observation! Now, you know its good literature when you feel so strongly about a certain character or certain events. And there’s also Galen, another evil creature who absolutely hates Fitz. He takes pleasure in whipping the children, causing them pain and I thought so many times over and over again how much I’d love to take his whip and just chase him around whipping him constantly and seeing exactly how he likes it. Uch, what an evil man.
But the characters aren’t all evil. There is Verity who I mentioned above who treats Fitz with the utmost kindness. Burrich is also an ambiguous character. He is highly loyal and this sometimes stands in the way of his friendship with Fitz causing much strain on their relationship, but he knows his duty and is always looking out for him even if it doesn’t seem so obvious. But the obvious character who I just loved dearly is the main man himself, FitzChivalry. The poor boy is treated worse than the dogs in the stable at times, but he always finds the courage to carry on even when he is utterly lonely. He becomes an essential tool to the King as an assassin but I feel there’s a lot more to Fitz than just a calculated killer so I hope I’m right in the upcoming books!
I appreciated how different this fantasy book was to others. There wasn’t any otherworldly creatures, there wasn’t the usual elves, dwarfs, orcs etc (that I know of anyway!). But Hobb did use ambiguous and eerie creatures in her work. Well not creatures exactly but human beings, who have lost all sense of humanity due to ‘forging’. I hope the next novel explains more about these individuals, and how exactly they have become such beings. It is an interesting concept and I’m looking forward to what threat they hold in the upcoming novels.
The reason why I gave this book 4.5 stars and not a full 5 was mainly because of the magic concepts. I felt as if they weren’t clearly explained by the author. I was a bit confused at times and didn’t completely know what was going when the Wit or the Skill was being used. Maybe the other two books in the Farseer trilogy will explain the two concepts more clearly, but there is no doubting their originality. Its not your usual magic but a hidden tool controlled by inner thoughts (if I understood correctly!) and its a lot different to the usual magic you get in fantasy.
So in total I did completely enjoy this book and was waiting eagerly for some free time when I could pick it up and immerse myself into Fitz’ world. The characterisation was brilliant, Hobb’s use of narrative so convincing and the story was one that was easy to get caught up in. I can’t wait to pick up the next book in the trilogy and meet up with Fitz and co again!