Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice (Book #1 Farseer Trilogy)

Assassins Apprentice

Published: 4/1/1995

Author: Robin Hobb

Assassin’s Apprentice is Robin Hobb’s first work and the Farseer Trilogy as a whole finds its way on to many top-fantasy-series lists.  For most of the book, I could see why it made it on to those lists…right up until the end.  The book was a slow build – which I appreciated (some people may not) – then the ending was rushed without a satisfying conclusion.

Assassin’s Apprentice is told in the first person from a flashback [yeah, letting it go].  Fitz (the narrator) is a bastard of the king-in-waiting of the Six Duchies.  Fitz was brought to the king at six-years-old by his maternal grandfather.  Fortunately, Fitz looks exactly like the prince; otherwise, I would have questioned why the royal family accepts that he is the prince’s child.  Some treat Fitz like a bastard, but others treat him like a child.  The king runs into Fitz and declares that he is of royal blood and begins treating him as such, and (secretly) trains him to become an assassin.

One of the main conflicts of the book focused on the problem of red-ships [I saw them as Vikings] raiding the shores of the six duchies.  The red-ship raiders somehow knew where the patrols of the duchies would be.  It would seem obvious that there is a spy in their midst, but the royal family casually brushes that off; rather they focus all their energies on trying to stop the Vikings from raiding their shore, despite constantly evading them.  We never get a conclusion to the Vikings raiding – it would seem the raids would just continue.   There are two more books; perhaps it is answered there.

One thing I didn’t realize when I started the book is that it is set in the same world as Hobb’s The Rain Wild Chronicles (Book One, Book Two).  However, the book stands alone, in fact, I can’t even tell where chronologically the story fits (or how the two books are even related other than they exist on the same planet).  My biggest complaint with the Rain Wild Chronicles was that I didn’t really like any of the characters.  With Assassin’s Apprentice, I have a related issue – while I liked the characters, they are all black and white.  The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad, so when betrayals are revealed to the reader, you aren’t surprised, but the main characters are so shocked it makes them seem really stupid.  At least they’re likable though.

While I had some issues with Assassin’s Apprentice, the writing was captivating.  At one point, I found myself so engrossed in the book that I didn’t even notice the flight attendant handing me my drink.  I am also hoping that the abrupt ending is explained (or picked up) in the next book in the series, Royal Assassin.

WWYT Rating: 7.1

Goodreads rating: 4.12/5

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