Book Review: ‘Assassin’s Apprentice’ by Robin Hobb

Posted: 19 July 2014 in Book reviews
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Synopsis

In the Six Duchies, a bastard is born. He’s not just any bastard though, but the son of King-in-waiting Prince Chivalry. His mother and grandfather raise him for six years and then suddenly he is carted off to the residence of his father’s brother, Prince Verity. He is then further handed off to Chivalry’s man, Burrich, who was in charge of the horses and dogs. Before long, it was decided that he, who eventually would be known simply as Fitz (a general term for a bastard), would go to Buckkeep, the royal keep.

For a long time, Fitz was able to remain under the royal radar. He lived in the stables with Burrich, made friends with some kids in Buckkeep town (who called him Newboy), and running around with his new puppy friend Nosy. It isn’t until Burrich sees him in town with the children that things change. He is then forced to Burrich, eat with him, work with him, and he loses Nosy when Burrich discovers his unknown usage of the Wit. The Wit is the ability to connect with the minds of animals. Used too much and the person could develop the mentality of an animal. Fitz now feels totally alone and almost a prisoner, but then his life changes.

Upon being noticed by King Shrewd, he is officially on the royal radar and soon begins lessons. He learns horseback, swordplay, his letters, etc. But while all that is going well, the king has other plans for the boy. Since the boy has no claim to the throne (since he is a bastard), he still could cause some major problems. To best serve the crown, Fitz is entrusted to Chade as his apprentice. The assassin’s apprentice.

Years pass and bit by bit he proves his worth. He passes all the tests he’s given, he cleverly resolves a court issue, and even develops an odd relationship with Lady Patience (his late father’s wife). His biggest challenges come when he begins his training of the Skill with Galen. Galen openly hates Fitz and goes out of his way to hurt him and impede him. But despite this, Fitz does well. That is until Galen tests them. He enters Fitz’s mind like the others, but then attacks him. Ftiz in turn almost overpowers Galen, but loses himself to the ecstasy and fails. But something changes after that. He no longer trusts himself and his skill. He would have even killed himself if it hadn’t been for Smithy (his new dog from Lady Patience that Burrich doesn’t know about).

After a test where he was hoped to have been killed, he learns from Prince Verity that his mind had been misted (by Galen) and gets his mind cleared. It is a good thing because shortly thereafter, he is sent with a royal entourage to Jhaampe in the Mountain Kingdom for a bride for Prince Verity. But little does he know about the plots that have been laid against him. Because of lies he is poisoned (and does not die) and because of lies his death looms over him. With death all around him, will Fitz really survive?

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed the book. I had high expectations when I told a couple people what I was reading and they also had enjoyed it. It isn’t like many things I have read. Sure, set in a medieval time period isn’t exactly original (not like that matters really), but the way they use magic (known as the ‘skill’) and shun other magic (such as the ‘wit) is different. And then the way people become ‘forged.’ Sounds totally unpleasant and intriguing.

Fitz it a pretty cool character. Especially considering everything he had going against him. He is the bastard son of the beloved King-in-Waiting. It’s not his fault, but he was definitely dealt the short stick. One uncle dislikes him, an instructor more than hates him, the king sees him more like a tool than a person, and random peons dislike simply for the fact that he exists. But despite this, he survives. What I like most, is that despite all the hate, he finds friends in the most random and unlikely of places. He is really a well developed, deep, and interesting character. I mean the rest of the major players are really cool as well. I can’t wait to learn more about the Fool. Chade, Burrich, and Prince Verity all are great.

The book it very well developed with much more still left to explore. I find the structure of the book interesting. It starts out in the present with the writings of the ‘narrator’ (Fitz presumably) before then going into the story which is written like a history. Different, but thankfully doesn’t disrupt the flow of the story.

So yeah. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It was easy to follow, complex enough to keep me engaged, developed enough to like certain characters and be annoyed by others, and overall a well thought out story. Really, quite good. This one you should definitely go out and read. Enjoy 😉

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Buy at Barnes and Noble

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