the Little Red Reviewer

Assassin’s Quest, by Robin Hobb

Posted on: October 3, 2010

 Assassin’s Quest is the third book in Robin Hobb’s Farseer series. Click on the titles to read my reviews of the first two books in the series, Assassin’s Apprentice, and Royal Assassin.

If you haven’t read those books, but plan to, you want to skip this blog post because there are major spoilers ahead.

You’ve read the entire Farseer series and what to see if we have similar opinions on the final book, Assassin’s Quest? hook up w/me after the jump!

First things first – this book frustrated me. The first two books in the series so knocked my socks off that my expectations for Assassin’s Quest were through the roof. Maybe Hobb was trying something a little different, maybe she was in a rush, maybe things had to happen a certain way because of crossovers in her other novels. As much as I enjoyed the end of this book, the beginning dragged, Fitz acted like an idiot through most of it, and the end got wrapped up too quickly for my liking. It was at the point where everytime my husband (who is a huge Hobb fan but hasn’t finished this series) asked me about the book, I said point blank I wasn’t going to tell him anything because I didn’t want to spoil anything. The real reason was I wasn’t sure I could talk about the book without saying something negative, and I really wanted him to read it so we could talk about it.

Brought back from the dead and left to his own devices, Fitz comes to believe that Regal needs to die, and quickly. But surrounded by his Skill coterie, Regal will not make an easy target.

Nearly everyone he cares about believes him dead, and Fitz is drawn through his connection with Nighteyes to leave humanity behind forever. He needs to decide if he wants to be a man, or be a wolf. Being a man means he will never be free, never be safe, never have his own life, and that the survival of the Six Duchies is in his hands. Being a wolf means freedom, and pack, and never fitting in anywhere. Which is worse? Which means less pain, less heart ache? He realizes how much the royal family has used him. He is nothing but a tool to them, and they have and will continue to use him until he breaks. With that as his future, why should he choose humanity?

No matter how many times Molly and Burrich try to tell him in Royal Assassin, is still takes him half way through Assassin’s Quest to realize Molly is pregnant with his child. When on the run from Regal’s soldiers, Fitz barely attemps to diguise himself, even while his physical description is being relayed throughout the Six Duchies. He makes mistakes he shouldn’t be making, and sometimes has trouble putting two and two together. Deathwish? Depression? Naivety? Something that’s dulling his senses?

Fitz does attempt to kill Regal, and fails spectacularly. A hurried job, and Fitz completely underestimates the power of Regal’s Skill coterie. What would Chade think? And with his botched Skill, anytime he even attempts to reach Verity or talk to Nighteyes, it’s as if he’s screaming out to Regal’s Skill coterie “I’m over here, come find me!”. He knows his only salvation lies in finding Verity, who has gone on a quest beyond the mountain kingdom to find the Elderlings, who legend says hold a promise to help the Six Duchies.

There’s no way he can make the journey on foot and alone, so Fitz hooks up with a Smuggler’s caravan. He meets Starling, a mistrel looking for the hero filled song that will make her famous, and Kettle, a crotchety old lady who knows too much about everything. Starling and Kettle know who Fitz is immediately, and they both help improve his disguises. Regal’s soldiers do catch up with the caravan, and Fitz’s narrow escape adds to his legendary deeds ever more.

When Fitz, Starling, and Kettle reach the Mountain Kingdom, and it’s a depressing reunion with a lonely Fool, a mourning Kettricken, and a hopeless journey in front of them. I am so happy The Fool is part of that journey. You know that favorite character actor that you love to see in movies, the one whose name you can never remember but they always steal the show? That’s The Fool. And he completely steals the show. I want to read a series just about him.

I’d also like to smack whoever did the cover art. If you’ve been paying attention at all, one look at the cover art tells  you what happens at the end. Sure, there is plenty more that happens, but you’ve got the gist. Not cool cover artist! Not cool!

On the plus side, the last quarter or so of the book is incredible, we learn that the Skill, the Wit, and Forging aren’t what we thought they are,  and that the Red Ship Raiders have a really darn good reason for doing what they do. And the Elderings? also not exactly what you thought (cover art be damned).  The Elderlings will help you. Sort of. But you’ve got to help them first. And the price they ask, can anyone possibly afford it? I wish Hobb had spent less time on the slow (we’re walking, we’re walking, we’re stopping. We’re walking, we’re walking. . .) journey to the Mountain Kingdom and beyond, and more time explaining the Elderlings and their early history with the peoples of the Six Duchies. Because that part is fascinating, it’s smart, it’s heartbreaking, I loved it, I wanted more of it.

I can’t recommend the first two books in this series enough, really, I can’t. If you’re new to Fantasy, looking to read a woman author, or just looking for something fun and satisfying, Assassin’s Apprentice and Royal Assassin are that and more. Just realize you will have to read Assassin’s Quest to find out what happens at the end, and that the final book in the series is the weakest.

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10 Responses to "Assassin’s Quest, by Robin Hobb"

I have good news for you. The third series will feature the fool quite heavily (which probably shouldn’t surprise anyone considering the name of the books :P).

Also, the Fool is present in the liveship series, if you know where to look. May be a bit hard to see if you have read them in the wrong order though.

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R. Hobb is one of my favourite fantasy authors and reading your review made me realize how long it’s been since I read this series. So long actually that I forgot what’s in the story. :)
I should read it again.

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and I probably just spoiled the ending for you.

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I’ve loved this series for many years. It was indeed, frustrating to read the passages where Fitz just doesn’t “get it”. You’ll enjoy the Fool series next, I’m sure.

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I totally agree about the cover art. After the first two didn’t relate to anything, I simply ignored it. It didn’t spoil a thing.
I don’t agree about this being the weakest – on the contrary, I simply loved it! Of-course, Fitz is an idiot, but it turns out, as Chade says, that he’s been an idiot all along. When you’re a child, you’re stupidity is forgiven, but now he’s a man. He’s got to own up. For the first time, he’s on his own.
He’s never really been a good assassin – how hard is it to poison some Forged ones? He never really liked being an assassin, and he never completely accepted this position.
He blushes when he looks at a woman – no wonder it takes him ages to figure out about Molly. In fact, he never actually figures it out. He has to see it.
Granted, the Skill Road is a bit tiresome, but there’s the fool, and Kettle’s mysteries, and becoming a pack – and of-course, the awesome ending.
To me, this book is what brought the trilogy to a “favorite” level.

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Damn, wrong website in my comment. Any chance of fixing it? It should be http://mybookrevu.wordpress.com.

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I can forgive some of Fitz’s idiotness, he is only a teen with an unusual upbringing, and no one has really taught him much of anything. the slow parts were just so slow and dragging! and Fitz’s idiotness got old for me after a while.
:( I don’t know how to fix the link. I can edit content but I don’t think I can change that.

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I absolutely love this trilogy, and I was also disappointed when I finished the last book. But then I realized there were two more trilogies that came after, and I have to say that the Fool trilogy is probably even better than this one. I’m not sure if you read it because I didn’t see a review of it on ur blog, but I highly recommend it!

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We have the Fool trilogy, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m slowly working my way through the Soldier Son trilogy. As usuall for Hobb, the Soldier Son trilogy is incredibly, beautifully written, but it takes an emotional toll, even more so than Farseer, so it’s been a challenge to get through. I will get to the Fool series eventually, I promise!

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