Last night, I finished reading Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) by Robin Hobb. There were things I loved about this book, and things I hated.
First, a short blurb on the storyline (so skip to the next paragraph if you haven’t read the book, and don’t want it spoilt). Fitz is a royal bastard (as in born outside of wedlock). At age five his mother’s family deliver him to the royals and abandon him. The boy looks just like his King-in-Waiting father, but this doesn’t win Fitz any favours. His father, and his wife, abdicate and move away from the castle, leaving Fitz to be tended by the stable master. Over the years, Fitz is treated badly, but one day the king finds a use for little Fitz, and he is apprenticed to Chade, the king’s assassin. From here everything that can go wrong, does, but I’ll let you read the book to find out how it turns out.
I loved the characters and the plot. Both were deeply woven together. There were a number of surprises, some of them tear jerkers. It is written in first person, but Robin Hobb did a beautiful job with this. She allowed the reader to get right inside the main characters head, and this paid off, because I really felt connected with him – I felt his pain and loneliness. It was enough to shatter the heart.
As I said, Assassin’s Apprentice was written in first person, so the author felt she had to include a short passage at the beginning of each chapter (ranging from a few lines to one and a half pages), which explained the history and other characters. These were things that the main character didn’t know and was mostly “telling”. This is the main thing that I disliked about the book. I found it distracting and…well, boring. After reading the first few, I stopped reading them and I feel I didn’t miss anything. The story was just as rich without these “info dumps”.
There were places where the author also described too much. For example, it took something like five pages to describe a city. By the time I’d read 3 pages, I was well and truly over it and just wanted the story to continue – so skipped the rest of the description. Other sections were over described too, but not as bad as the section I just mentioned. These long descriptions were also distracting and managed to pull me out of the story I was thoroughly enjoying.
Taking these things away, this book is excellent. The story and characters are so real that the reader has no choice but to “get over” the bad things and move on. I did, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The book is the first book in a trilogy, but it is also a stand alone novel. I don’t have to read the next book, but I will because I want to see where the story will go (and how the author improves because, I believe, this was her first published novel).
Highly recommended; and, I think it will gain a place in my top ten books. 😀