the Little Red Reviewer

Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb

Posted on: August 23, 2010

This is my first Robin Hobb, and I almost didn’t want to read it because I felt it had a really, really cheesy title, and just slightly less cheesy cover art. 20 Pages in and I knew this book was going to knock my socks off. That’ll teach me to judge a book by it’s cover.

Continuing with my weakness for stories featuring orphaned children left to their own devices, the main character of Assassin’s Apprentice, and of the entire Farseer series is Fitz. He doesn’t remember his mother, and he’s the bastard son of the crown Prince Chivalry. Fitz is a royal bastard – at best recognized by the crown and maybe given some kind of title or land, at worst ignored and left alone.

I don’t want to go too much into plot, as that would give away all the good parts, in turns serious, funny, confusing, cruel and fascinating. Suffice to say, Fitz is given the basic noble education, quite a bit of secret education, and he is exposed to the truth of royal politics and intruigue. He meets the enigmatic but oracle-like Fool, and his father’s barren wife Lady Patience, and is taken under the wing of a strange old man named Chade. Chade exposes Fitz to everything he needs to know, and waits patiently for Fitz to understand what and who he is. Although Fitz has talent with The Wit, a telepathic connection with animals, he is pushed to develop a talent with The Skill, a telepathic connection with people. As the novel progresses, the intruigue, betrayal, and danger reach explosive levels. If I told you anymore, I’d give away all the good stuff.

Another reason I’m not going to go much into plot is because I don’t want you to think Robin Hobb does plot and nothing else. Characterization? Excellent. We witness Fitz’s formative years, and Hobb captures perfectly the frustrated and scared child, the curious adolescent, the awkward preteen. Worldbuilding? again, excellent. While avoiding infodumping, Hobb provides us with a beautiful view of the Kingdom of the Six Duchies, and its histories and traditions. Damn good fantasy fiction? if you want to know how it’s done, read yourself some Hobb.

This Robin Hobb woman? Seriously, she’s incredible. I am kicking myself for not reading her the first time I came across her name on various SFFWorld forums.

You know how a lot of books have some down time, or some slow parts when you wish the author would just get to it already? Assassin’s Apprentice doesn’t have a single sentence of that. That’s not to say the book is all action, or all intruigue, or all mystery. It isn’t “all” any of those things. But Hobb makes use of every single scene, of every conversation, of every sentence. Everything Fitz sees and hears and does is important. Hobb is a master of foreshadowing, world building, and foundation building. She’s set Fitz (and the reader) up to ask all the right questions and to know where to go for the answers.

I still had plenty of questions by the time I finished. I’m dying to know more about the Fool, and the freaky scary plague from the Red Raiders. I’d like to know if Fitz will ever realize exactly what’s been done to him, and how far a certain prince will go to get what he wants. I’ve lucked out in two ways – not only is this a completed series (Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest), but Hobb has written plenty of other books in this world. So I don’t have to wait and wait and wait to find out what’s going to happen.

Six months ago my personal library contained not a single Hobb. Now it contains about a half dozen. If you looking for a new fantasy author, give Robin Hobb a try. She got a lot out there, lots of crossover trilogies, and few stand alones. So you can start just about anywhere and have a great time.

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14 Responses to "Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb"

thanks for the review!
I didn’t even know about that book!
I think i will try it!:D

Yiota @ http://splashofourworlds.blogspot.com/

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Thanks for writing this review! I’ve been thinking about reading Hobbs’ Assassin’s Apprentice trilogy since I saw it rated highly by a number of epic fantasy fans. And thank you for no spoilers!

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It definately deserves the high rating. I just picked up the 2nd book in the series.

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This sounds great! I will definitely check it out.

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Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. The Assassin trilogy is my favorite by Hobb. I was fortunate enough to begin reading them when she’d published all three, but then I had to wait while the Farseer trilogy came out one bite at a time.

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Ahhhhh I LOVE Robin Hobb. She is AMAZING.

And yes, George RR Martin is the stuff! Sigh. A Game of Thrones BLEW me away and I had to wait before I could start a Clash of Kings because I needed some time! LOL

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Jaime, I think you and I are going to be good friends! I’m almost done w/the second assassin’s book, and I can’t put it down. Poor Fitz! that kid is just going to go nuts and kill someone (umm, Regal!) one of these days.

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[...] If you have not yet read Assassin’s Apprentice (review here), you may want to skip this blog post. because I can’t adequately discuss the second book in the [...]

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I’ve been avoiding this book due to the cheesy artwork haha. I bought it because I heard it was good but it’s been on my TBR pile for awhile. I think I’ll move it up the queue! :)

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[...] past few months.  That’s a toughy, there’s The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. . . and a handful of other [...]

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[...] or a couple weeks ago at the Little RedReviewer we have the book review of Assassins Apprentice.  Robin Hobb is an author that I always mean to read more of, but always find another book to read [...]

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[...] series. Click on the titles to read my reviews of the first two books in the series, Assassin’s Apprentice, and Royal [...]

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I’ve read this, but not the rest of that trilogy – I’ll probably re-read it before I review it but I also loved it. (And I’m in the UK so those books have the non-cheesy, shinyshiny covers :D )

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I’m surprised you were able to stop at just the first book! if you plan to continue in the series, you’ll definitely want to do a quick reread of the first one.

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