Saturday, October 27, 2012

Assassin's Apprentice, 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 was a strange read for me. I've been holding off on reading Assassin's Apprentice for, well, years, because it always sounded like such a simple 'Coming of Age' tale and I've read far more than my fair share of those in my time. The reviews for Farseer always seem to be Stellar though, and I enjoyed the first two books in the Liveship Traders series so I finally picked this one up and dug in. And initially, I thought it was fabulous. Fitz as a character is, in all honestly, pretty bloody dull, but the world Hobb creates for him is absolutely oozing with potential and for the first quarter of this I couldn't put it down.

As the plot progresses though, and the coolness of aspect like the Raiders, Chade and the Fool get slowly overtaken by the slowness of the storyline and the boredom of the Politics, I struggled. It's admittedly a stylish take on standard Fantasy Fare, but the more I read the more that stylish veneer was chipped away to reveal...well....just standard Fantasy Fare. It became a tedious, slow burn of a novel, which for me didn't explode into glorious fireworks at the end, it just fizzled out :(

I've admittedly been completely spoiled by the likes of George RR Martin and Steven Erikson when it comes to Political intrigue, most novels pale in comparison and this one is no different. It's undeniably well-written, with some beautiful descriptive sequences and the potential for some great action scenes, which just was never realised. I've heard it said that Assassin's Apprentice doesn't work well on its own, but that it sets up the series and should be taken as one of three. The problem I have though is that after dragging myself to the end of this one I really can't see me going any further with Farseer. I believe this is where we part ways.

Sad to say, not for me.


  1. Aww, damn. This was marked out as one of the top fantasy series to read. I've heard mixed things about Liveship too, so I'm probably better off leaving this on the backburner for a while.


    1. You know, I should probably start all reviews with a disclaimer that I'm massively, massively picky...
      I know heaps of people who adore this series..
      I just..couldn't see it :(
      I'm sure a certain amount of it comes from my Martin addiction..he kind of totally ruins political intrigue for most others...