This is a review of “Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb.
The kingdom is on the brink of civil war when news breaks that the crown prince has fathered a bastard son and is shamed into abdication. The child’s name is Fitz, and he is despised by pretty much everyone. Raised in the stables in the company of animals, the king’s fool and the ragged children of the lower city are his only companions until he is suddenly apprenticed to the king’s assassin. But with a teacher determined to discredit or even kill him, Fitz might find it harder to survive than expected – especially since he might just be the only one capable of saving the kingdom in the end.
Excellently imagined and described even though it is supposed to be through the eyes of a six to fourteen-year-old boy, this is a world that comes alive as one reads, and the journey of a young child until he becomes a teenager isn’t as uninteresting as one might had expected it. The politics are rife and rampant and it is fascinating to watch as characters are dragged along helplessly, but it is a relief that not everyone in politics is a bad guy.
The characters are as varied as one could wish for, and display many kinds of strengths and weaknesses. It is a good ensemble for this story, and with Fitz’s skills to bond with animals we as readers get yet another layer of characters to possibly have to keep in mind. The Skill is also useful but not all-powerful and it certainly isn’t easy to learn at all.
Chivarly, what we are told of him, seems to be a good man and Patience’s position and opinions are understandable. Burrich is gruff but kind, though prejudiced when it comes to the Wit. Verity is doing his best when suddenly saddled with things he wasn’t really prepared for. King Shrewd is doing his best for the country as a king should. Regal and Galen are a bit archetypal but they were interesting to read about so it didn’t really matter, while Chade and the Fool are both very interesting and I hope there will be more of them in the future books.
Fitz is like any young boy who doesn’t really under stand everything around him, but he grows and it is nice to see him realising and understanding things better around him and make use of what he was taught despite youthful impulses. However, our understanding of him might be a bit biased since it’s the elder Fitz actually telling the story – though he doesn’t seem to be actively trying to downplay embarrassing or horrible moments.
There are only two teeny, tiny complaints about this book. One is the plot of the Red Ship Raiders. I would have liked more about them in this firs book. Secondly the story can seem a tiny bit slow, but that is merely an afterthought because it certainly didn’t feel like it while reading the book. The fact that the book is told by an older Fitz now looking back at his life leaves readers with lots of tantalising clues and hints and remarks at what might or might not happen in the future, which seduces the reader into simply continuing. So only nitpicking and personal preference speaking here.
I am eagerly anticipating reading the next book in the series.
Definitely a book that I recommend to everyone.