Assassin’s Quest, by Robin Hobb
Posted October 3, 2010on:
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.