Book Review: Royal Assassin (Book #2 Farseer Trilogy)

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Published: 3/21/1996

Author: Robin Hobb

Royal Assassin is an ill-suited title.  A better title might be The Boy Who Sits Around and Whines about Everything.  The title character, Fitz, calls himself an assassin, but he doesn’t actually do any assassinations.  He was assigned one assassination by the king in the entire book, and spends the entire chapter talking about something else, then at the end of the chapter he basically says “oh yeah, I poisoned him.”  He frequently goes out and kills some zombie-type things but that doesn’t really count as an assassination.

At the end of the first book Assassin’s Apprentice, Prince Regal (third-in-line to the throne, behind his father and brother) tries to kill his brother, Verity, and Fitz.  This treasonous act earns him a stern talking to.  It should come as no surprise then that in Royal Assassin, Regal starts committing treasonous acts several times over (poisoning his father, blocking/not passing along vital messages).  Fitz spends his time whining “what can I do?”  Um, YOU’RE AN ASSASSIN!  I get that you promised the king that you wouldn’t seek vengeance on Regal for trying to kill you before, but I am sure the king would make an exception if he saves his life.

That notwithstanding, let’s say that the whole assassination thing is out of the question.  How about spreading some rumors about Regal and all the things that he is doing to the king and kingdom?  The cook chastises Fitz later in the novel for not spreading any gossip.  That seems like a perfect opportunity to undermine Regal’s authority.

Perhaps worst of all was the “love story.”  It was bad enough for me to pine for Annakin and Padme.  Fitz stalks his love interest (creepily watching her doing chores without her noticing and constantly making excuses to do so).  Once he beds her, he lies to her and constantly puts her second (or third) behind his other duties.  When she finally calls him out, he has the audacity to be shocked and hurt.

Once the king finally dies, Fitz goes on a homicidal rampage – killing Regal’s lackeys IN FULL VIEW OF EVERYONE.  What the hell kind of assassin are you?  You had the allegiance of three armies to help you, and rather than use your training to kill them quietly in their sleep, you kill them in front of everyone throwing away all the goodwill you and your allies had built.

Royal Assassin is extremely well written, but logic holes that you could drive a truck through sink this novel to a poor rating.

WWYT Rating: 4.0 [I am far enough into book three* (Assassin’s Quest) that Fitz gets called out for all his idiocy that I mentioned above – either Hobb realized that she messed up or it was intentional (given how dumb Fitz so far in book three, I lean toward intentional)]

Goodreads Rating: 4.2/5

*You are probably wondering why I am reading book three given my low rating – but book two didn’t really end, so I am just plowing ahead.  I am glad I did, because the rating might have been higher had the calling out occurred in book two.

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