Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
I think I really needed something like this in my reading life and it came at the exact time I needed it. Robin Hobb is someone I have heard a lot about and a lot of bookworms’ fantasy favourites feature her books! I have to admit that this one wasn’t on top of my tbr but it’s all thanks to this video by becklepanda over on YouTube that sent me on this adventure.
This book is not full of action in the most obvious way and that might be something that would put people off. Fitz is a child for most of the book and he’s six year old when the story starts. So you can imagine what is going to happen here. However do not be discouraged about complete lack of action though! Because the book’s title is kinda important!
So Fitz is a six year old boy who’s being shoved over to the King because he’s a bastard of the King-in-Waiting, Chivalry. His existence becomes a catalyst for a lot of things to happen over the span of years. Chivalry is married and his wife is devastated after hearing about it, there’s Chivalry’s brothers. Verity who’s nice to Fitz and isn’t exactly the devoted or attentive but at least he isn’t Regal, Chivalry’s other brother. Regal is not pleased about Fitz’s existence and isn’t shy about showing it. Fitz is then put under the care of Burrich, the stable master of the King and once a King’s Man to Chivalry.
Burrich is absolutely awesome and not at all perfect a human being. Burrich is taking care of Fitz because Chivalry abdicates after learning about Fitz. You remember Fitz being a catalyst for things that happen? Yeah. In any case, Fitz’s life is shown through his eyes and because of that, despite a lot of political intrigue happening in the background, we don’t see a lot of it during his years of 6-14, however that’s by no means should mean that there is not action at all.
So much happens in the this book! Fitz has this magical skill called the Wit which means that he’s able to connect to animals’ minds and is able to communicate with them. He even bonds with a puppy during his early years however the Wit isn’t an accepted form of magic in the Six Duchies. So Burrich, when he understands what’s happening, tried to put a stop to it because he thinks it’s wrong bordering on perversity. It’s simply heartbreaking and because we are reading it from young Fitz’s perspective, it’s all the more sad. There’s more magic in this world, there’s the Skill. A magical power that’s mostly in the royal family, specifically the Farseer line. Chivalry and Verity have it, what Skill does is expand the mind across the kingdom through connected minds. It’s absolutely mind-boggling and not without its disadvantages.
As he starts growing, Shrewd the king of the Six Duchies decides that there’s use for Fitz after all. Shrewd deals with the possible contention of heir to the kingdom in such a interesting way and I doubt he realised what would actually be the result of his doings in the future. Shrewd decides that Fitz should be taking up the position of Chade, an assassin and spy for King Shrewd. So begins Fitz’s education for the poisons and herbs and spying and all the things that people do when they are hidden from the world and are embroiled in the world of intrigue. Shrewd is a good representation of the word, I must say.
I think what I absolutely loved about the book is the character growth of Fitz, the people in his life and how it all really makes for a perfect read for me. Fitz is not loved, not really. His life is hard and he’s not at all wanted or liked by people at the castle for a long while however it’s not all rocky for him all the time. There’s Burrich who in his own way and despite his reservations and issues about Chivalry’s bastard, does care about Fitz. There’s Chade who’s kind to a boy he doesn’t need to be, he’s a guiding hand and how he makes sure that Fitz understands his place in the world but not by degrading him personally. Then there’s the animals! Oh, gosh. I absolutely loved that part of Fitz’s life.
Fitz’s loyalty to the King is tested when he’s too young to have been tested, there are things that he had to do for the King that he’s not too fond of. There’s the Fool who’s one of the most intriguing characters I have read about!!! The Fool gets better and better at being super interesting as we go through the second book and probably the third one. It’s not just Fitz going through all this but it’s the interpersonal relationships that he falls into throughout the book that really clicked with me. Also as a start to a new series, this is absolutely amazing.
There’s likable characters and absolutely amazing characterizations. There’s political intrigues and plots coming up hinted in the first book and most importantly, there’s tons of animals who are the best. As a fantasy, this is pretty great! Overall, there’s just too much for in the book for me to talk about it and it’s just great and I am obsessed. I am already on book three, so you can imagine how addicting the writing is. I am a bit sad that I didn’t start reading Robin Hobb before.