Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Publisher: Del Rey
Published: April 1995
Genre: adult, fantasy
Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.
As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
Fitz can’t remember too much of his early life, apart from working as a stable boy and bonding really well with the animals. When King Shrewd acknowledges Fitz is the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, he has a plan sorted just for Fitz, one that marks him above a commoner but not quite nobility. Fitz will be a trained assassin, using his Skill to assist his mission. But as raiders attack the kingdom’s coast, Fitz’s assignment becomes all too real, and a complicated web of deceit may be his undoing.
This book seems to have followed me around for the last few months without any intention on my part! It was a gift from my Secret Santa, Samantha, it was one that a friend eyed and purchased over the holidays, and it was chosen as the Flights of Fantasy Book Club pick for March. MARCH. It is now April and I’ve finally finished it. A belated review for this book club pick. And hopefully I can shed some light as to why.
Hobb’s writing style is one that begs to be absorbed across long sittings. Once you’re involved with Fitz’s narrative, the prose becomes engrossing and the story picks up its pace. But if you’re a chapter-before-bed kind of reader, you may be out of luck with this one. Reading small portions each day made the book feel slow and plodding.
This first book in the Farseer trilogy is also full of character development and insight. We watch Fitz grow from about six years old to early young adulthood, and experience a whole spectrum of events with him. He’s an outcast because he’s a bastard child, but he’s neither commoner, servant, nor noble. He’s of royal blood but cannot be given special privileges, yet there’s no denying he has the Skill, which runs through royal families. He’s in quite the predicament, and the King, as well as his subjects, treat Fitz as such.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, but it took me two months to get through it. If I had time to sit across a weekend and be completely immersed in it, I’m sure I would’ve loved it. I am curious to see what happens to Fitz, and the writing really is beautiful — so I plan to read the second book too.