Tag Archives: Robin Hobb

“Royal Assassin” – R. Hobb

This is a review of “Royal Assassin” by Robin Hobb. This is the second book of the Farseer Trilogy. You can find the first book here.

Honesty is the bedrock for any relationship. But how can Fitz – royal bastard, trainee assassin, holder of secrets crucial to the security of the kingdom – bare his soul to his beloved Molly? Danger lies all around him – the raiders savaging the coastal towns, and from within the court. The king is mysteriously ill, and Verity leaves to search for the mythical Elderlings. Apart from his wolf and the strange Fool, Fitz is friendless and exposed to Prince Royal’s malign ambitions. What will he be forced to sacrifice for the sake of the realm?

FitzChivalry’s relationships with the people around him are perfectly well written. They are believable for a young man who has grown up as Fitz has. What’s more, the many pitfalls of teenage romance that make it trite and overly dramatic and strereotypical, are elegantly avoided. The progress is also beautifully done, and this is a rare example of a relationship that doesn’t annoy the hell out of me.

The conflict with the rest of the children that Fitz trained with in order to learn the Skill, is a small but important part of the whole. As is King Shrewd ordering Fitz to marry a nobleman’s daughter chosen for him. Even the wolf – Nighteyes – is believable. His character is clearly an animal, with the cares and concerns an animal has, or doesn’t have. He is very much different from Fitz and other humans, but still relatable enough to be likable.

Fitz’s progress from the last book to this one is obvious and believable. He is more mature, and he shows that in his actions and in his thoughts. His reactions are different, and because of this he is brought deeper and deeper into the court intrigue, treated with respect, gains ever bigger roles to play, and even becomes a trusted advisor to Kettricken.

The fact that Fitz in a few scenes completely forgets his place as the bastard, and acts above his station until someone reminds him, are perfect tiny though those scenes are. They are just examples of the many things and seemingly useless details that make this world come alive.

Finally, we have to mention the Raiders and the Red Ships and the Forged. The Forged aren’t quite zombies but different enough to send chills down the spine of people. There is so little known about them even though their numbers are growing, that it just makes them more mysterious and dangerous. And the Red Ships appearing more and more often along with the mystery of the white ship, keeps the story rolling forwards and suspenseful.

There are a few things in this book that aren’t as good. Friendless Fitz isn’t actually all that friendless no matter how much he thinks it. Verity’s new wife is his friend, as is Burrich and Patience, and even the insignificant background characters like one of the cooks in the castle kitchens. Not to mention the Fool himself.

And then we have Royal. He is dangerously close to¬†going too far into the realm of Stereotypical Evil Princes (TM). He isn’t out of character, but he is completely transparent. The only things that saves him from truly joining the ranks of the stereotypes, is his viciousness and the fact that he exacerbates the entire situation of the raiders.

The ending itself was far too long. It was completely fine and well written and fit in with the rest, the problem was that you expect things to pick up speed after Verity leaves, but they don’t. Things still go slow, slow oh-so-slow. It kills the momentum that the build-up to Verity leaving has given the book.

All in all, this is a good book. Robin Hobb certainly knows how to write political intrigue. The pacing, however, brought it down slightly.

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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Books, Fantasy


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“Assassin’s Apprentice” – R. Hobb


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.

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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Books, Fantasy


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