By Robin Hobb
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| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| ISBN-10: 055357339X
| ISBN-13: 9780553573398
| Publisher: Spectra (March 1, 1996)
| Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
| Read an Excerpt (Not a direct link, link is on the page.)
| Cover art by Michael Whelan
| Source: Personal copy
| Rating: 5 Stars
At the age of six, a young boy is dropped off at Buckkeep. With no knowledge of his own name the child is given the title of Fitz, meaning simply "bastard." The King sees him as a tool, his father sees him as a mistake, his half brother Regal sees him as a threat, his other half brother treats him with absentminded kindness while his father's stableman, who is given the job of raising Fitz, sees him as an obligation to the master he worships.
This is the world where young Fitz has to learn to survive, a world where he is by turns, ignored, barely tolerated, or openly hated. This existence will continue until one day King Shrewd will see something that nobody else has considered. Give a lonely boy a touch of affection, a recognition of his existence, a place as the "king's man" and you will not only have a loyal servant for life but get rid of a potential threat in the process.
So begins Fitz's training as a royal assassin and leads to his training in "Skill" the ability to touch, and sometimes influence, other minds. In addition, this young boy must endeavor to hide his other magical talent, one that allows him to communicate and in some instances, bond with animals. While "Skill" is an accepted form of magic, "Wit" or the ability to commune with animals is not. It is claimed that one who does this too often will become a beast himself. Therefore, life for poor Fitz is nothing but one trial after another. Assassin's Apprentice is his story.
Fantasy Series Book Review by Mulluane
♦ My Thoughts. No traditional fantasy collection would be complete without the works of Robin Hobb. Considered by most to be one of the best fantasy writers out here, I quite agree. Now the book is not perfect, nor is it terribly original by today's standards. It takes place in your typical medieval type world, there is a serious magical threat to the kingdom, and there are hints that the protagonist is the key to all of their troubles. It is however, a shadow of better things to come. Back when this was originally published, it went against several traditions. First, it was character driven in a world filled with traditional quest driven fantasy. For another it was written entirely in first person, something that is not widely accepted, even today. This gave Robin Hobb an opportunity to really play on the reader's emotions. By seeing Fitz's world through Fitz's eyes, you get a real feel for just how lonely this boy was, and how hard he had to fight for a few morsels of acceptance. It sucks you in and rarely lets you back up for air.
Aside from being character driven, which is my favorite type of fantasy, this series has a soft spot in my heart for another reason. I am a true animal lover and if I have a fantasy related dream, aside from waving a wand and my house is clean, it is being able to communicate with animals. It does not matter if it is a dragon, unicorn, or griffin, it could be as commonplace as a dog, cat, or horse, either way, I would love to be able to have a mental bond with one of my favorite critters. Assassin's Apprentice fulfills that dream for me adding a fun factor to my enjoyment of the story. Granted, the results of Fitz's Wit abilities are sometimes tragic but if anything that just adds an aura of realism to the tale, this is not a happy story by any means, but it is a poignant one.
♦ Conclusion. Fast-paced for the most part, coming of age told first hand, political intrigue, adventure, well thought out magic systems and an interesting, if not terribly original, world, this book is a classic. While not a YA book, it is very YA readable. No love scenes, atleast not yet, violence but nothing overly graphic, more tragic then anything else, and no objectionable language. I would have no problem handing this book to a YA reader with every expectation that they will enjoy it. It has a solid ending too but you know there is alot of this tale yet to come. Classic, easy read, great for both the reread shelf and to curl up with on a rainy day. Highly recommended for fantasy lovers from YA to adult.
Librarything Rating 4.21/5
Amazon Rating 4+ out of 5 stars
(638 Customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
Kindle: Assassin's Apprentice/Royal Assassin
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Epic Fantasy Book Review of Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy: Book 1) by Robin Hobb - Reviewed by Mulluane - on January 24, 2009 - Rating: of 5 Stars