Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Review by Floresiensis
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb (also known as Megan Lindholm) is the first book in her acclaimed work, The Farseer Trilogy. Assassin's Apprentice was first published in 1995 and is followed by the books Royal Assassin and Assassin's Quest. The trilogy has been described as combining the magic of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea with J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
The story follows a young, nameless six year old boy and his life and times once he is given over to his biological father, a royal prince.
The young boy, who becomes known only as Fitz, has a difficult life being that he is a royal bastard. He is taken under the wing of master of animals named Burrich and it is working for Burrich that his discovers that he also has many other skills that ordinary boys do not possess.
The Kingdom is under threat from raiders that leave their victims devoid of any human emotions. The King is hard pressed and uses everything at his disposable to protect his country. Fitz, after a chance meeting with the King starts assassin training. As he grows he must face peril and hardship and faces ever more difficult missions.
Assassin's Apprentice: The Earliest History
This tale is told in first-person narrative as Fitz sits down and recounts his memoirs. This is a pleasing story if nothing exceptional. The characters are interesting and the settings are suitably described. I think that this could be classed as old-style fantasy, there is nothing wrong with that but authors such as George R. R. Martin and David Farland have taken the genre to another level.
This book is enjoyable and worth reading. There are genuinely moving moments and you do hope that Fitz's life has a happy ending. His connections with the animals is a nice twist and his interaction with the other characters is well done.
Assassin's Apprentice would be a good choice for young adults and a good place for somebody new to the fantasy genre to start.
Assassin's Apprentice: Assassinations
The book's cover illustration's are by the wonderful John Howe of Lord of the Rings fame and help bring the story even further to life.
"Refreshingly original" Jenny Wurts
"I couldn't put this novel down" Starburst
Tyler from USA
I have read this series several times now and it has been the effort I went through to find copies in my town. I absolutely love this series. Fitz, the main character, is suppressed in every way possible. He is hurt, then kicked while he is down, again and again. But the point of the story is that he continues on each time. He raises himself up again and again. It is true that this book can get depressing at times, but it is worth it to watch as Fitz grows and becomes a exemplary man. I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fantasy.
Chris from Australia
This book got me into reading again. I love the way I was able to feel for the characters. The ending was amazing. There were a few chapters which were slow paced and I wanted more to happen but the ending made it so worthwhile. I can't wait to finish reading the trilogy.
Graham Brown from Australia
There are some good ideas and characters, though some were introduced only to go nowhere, but I am guessing that they will be taken up again in the sequels. I found the protagonist sympathetic, but frustrating in the way he just lets everyone mistreat him without doing anything. And some of the adult characters close to him seem to neglect and reject him for no good reason other than to try to gain reader sympathy. I agree with another comment above that Hobb builds up slowly to conflicts which then seem to fizzle out in a few paragraphs with an unsatisfactory conclusion. But generally a very readable book which sustained my interest.
Tessa from UK
Came across this almost by accident, and was drawn into it at once. I found the setting appealing and the plot quite intriguing, although predictable at times, with an interesting set of characters.
Jo from Germany
This is my absolute favorite book. There is no other book I loved (and still do) more than this. The characters are full of life and skillfully drawn, the story slow-paced - but so real in detail. Nothing seems shallow, not one feeling described seems out of line. So much art in every line. I am grateful for Hobb having created this work of art and I hope, she will continue publishing (though I didn't enjoy the Liveship Traders as much as the Fitz-books).
Tom from Lincoln
Quite honestly the worst set of books I have ever read. The plots and sub-plots dragged beyond imagination, the characters quite frankly felt like they were dreamed up in 30 seconds and for a book set in that kind of time there should have been a lot more actual action. The author builds you up each time for a nice battle then lets you down completely by being half a page long with no real description. To be honest a 6 year old could have done better. My recommendation is to avoid this book like the plague and I hope the author sees a doctor about depression as seriously a kid shouldn't have to do all that crap without getting a huge payoff like... err maybe actually getting to go home? Anyway, rant over, book is awful, give it a miss.
Roelf from The Netherlands
I tried. I really did. I have numerous friends who have told me that they really enjoyed this book, but I have failed to do so. To me this book was a writer torturing the main character for no apparant reason.
Jonathan from Maryland
This is perhaps the best series of books I have read. The characters are very real and not at all static. It is very easy to fall into this book and cheer at Fitz's triumphs and gnash your teeth at his failures and setbacks. The books can be very sad or depressing, but the fact that there are huge setbacks and horrible truths make it more real and gritty. Someone once said to me you cannot know how good things can be till you've seen how bad it was. Persevere, the second trilogy especially sets things to rights and it feels good. I have read and reread this series many times, which I very rarely do and is the best recommendation I can offer.
Tim from New Zealand
Robin Hobb is my favourite fantasy author and I think this is her best series. The writing creates a vivid world and her characters are believable.
Emily from Mississippi, US
Robin Hobb, for me, sets the standard for what I expect out of fantasy. She makes an art out of digging a deeper and deeper hole for her poor main character. As someone else mentioned, the story can be depressing, but the series doesn't really bill itself as a peppy, happy thing to begin with. But for the complainers, approach this book as a trilogy of trilogies; it doesn't really end until Fool's Fate, when everything is finally made right. And even then, there's another growing trilogy coming along now! This is the kind of writing that you'll come back to over and over again, and will spoil you, like it has me, with its amazing craft and quality.
Patrick from Glasgow,KY
There is "NO WAY" this series is out of the top five. This series is a must read for fantasy readers!
Shell from Winchester
The strength of this series lies in the combination of strong human characters and Nighteyes - the kind of companion we all dreamt of as children and were only able to find in the pages of a book.
Jeremy from Akron
I really can't recommend this book. The writing labors at points and the chapter intros are cumbersome and unnecessary. As the start of a series, it does leave you itching for more, but THERE IS NO PAYOFF. The ending of the series feels like the author shifted midway through and decided to do something different with the end because she wanted to write more books with the main character. The biggest flaw in the series, is the the main character. He is very powerful, and yet he lets others dump all over him, until they finally break him. Quite lame. There are worse books out there. But only read this if someone is paying you.
A Reviewer from UK
'The main character is sympathetic, but the book consists of nothing but horrible things happening to him over and over again.' That pretty much sums up the entire book! It's exceedingly well-written and worth reading, but the story sometimes feels unnecessarily gray and unappealing. Don't read this if you don't like seeing a boy fail in every endeavor and ultimately end up as a man only by happenstance. Seriously, Ms. Hobb was as cruel to him as only someone who does not understand can be. As a young man, I read this series dreading the next time my heart would sink to the bottom of my gut because of things I wanted and things the character wanted were ripped away mercilessly. Family, love, his father, friendship et cetera. This series is not for the faint of heart. You'll be depressed for a week!
Melanie from Glasgow
I've loved all Robin Hobb's books, apart from "The Soldier Son" series. I loved Fitz, and really got into him as a character. While reading these books I totally escaped into the story, forgetting the real world for a while, which is the best compliment I can give. "The Mad Ship" books affected me this way as well. After borrowing the 1st book from the library, I went out to buy all her books so I could read them whenever I wanted. I haven't read the "Dragon" books yet as I didn't know they existed, but I will be making a visit to Waterstone's as soon as possible.
AL from New York, NY
Robin Hobb gives us a great escape: a detailed worldscape with terrific characters. This is probably my favorite "trilogy" of all Robin Hobb's books.
Daniel from Essex
Well written and easy to lose yourself in, these series of books are an emotional rolercoaster. I couldn't put these books down, I also would recommend the Live Ship series and the Tawny Man but unfortunatly I felt Robin lost her way after that.
Rob from London
Amazing first book for an amazing series. I've recommended this book to several people and all have gone on to read and enjoy the trilogy. Definitely in my top 5 fantasy novels, do yourself a favour and read it.
Rosalind from Colorado
I must admit, I only got 3/4 of the way through this book before I had to stop. I have never read any novel that was so relentlessly depressing. The main character is sympathetic, but the book consists of nothing but horrible things happening to him over and over again. Other characters in the book exist only betray Fitz or die one he grows fond of them. I have not (and will not) read other books in the series, but I can guess that they involve the destruction of every father-figure and cute puppy that gets within a mile of the protagonist.
Estel from Lucknow
The Farseer Trilogy is a must read for any fantasy fan. The first person narrative is effective and engaging, I feel a lot of empathy for Fitz. Ms. Hobb is an excellent wordsmith; the setting and the characters have been beautifully portrayed. She has definitely taken fantasy to a new horizon, devoid of any clichés, with an engaging plot and a realistic cast of characters.
Natalie from Cheshire
Robin Hobb is probably my favourite fantasy author and the Farseer trilogy is probably my favourite series. It's the characters that I like the best, Fitz, Burrich, Regal, Molly and Verity are still as clear in my mind to me as they were when I was reading it a few years ago. The bonus is that the books get better as they go along and give you the kind of ending you are hoping for, something that other series have failed to do and left me a bit disappointed.
What did you think about Assassin’s Apprentice?
Submit your own reader review and award the book the rating you think it deserves.