Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Assassin's Apprentice book cover
Rating 9.2/10
An enjoyable and rewarding beginning to a promising trilogy.

The Farseer Trilogy is a recommended fantasy series.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb is the first book in her acclaimed work, The Farseer Trilogy. First published in 1995, and followed by 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 six year old boy and his life and times once he is handed over into the care of his biological father, a royal prince. The young boy, who becomes known as Fitz, has a difficult life due to the fact that he is a royal bastard.

"'Chivalry's' the old man said, and he was already turning his back on me, taking his measured steps down the flag-stoned pathway. 'Prince Chivalry' he said, not turning back as he added the qualifier. 'Him what's King-in-Waiting. That's who got him. So let him do for him, and be glad he managed to father one child, somewhere.'"
Assassin's Apprentice: The Earliest History

He is taken under the wing of Buckkeep's master of animals, Burrich, and it is while working for Burrich that his discovers he also has many other skills that ordinary boys do not possess.

The Kingdom is under threat from raiders who 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 begins his assassin training and as he grows he must face peril, hardship and ever more difficult missions.

This tale is told using a first-person narrative, beginning as Fitz sits down and recounts his memoirs (he is now a much older man). This narrative is intense and highly enjoyable, worth reading for the author's skill with words alone. There are genuinely moving moments and you are always hoping that Fitz's life will become happier.

I would highly recommend Assassin's Apprentice and the Farseer Trilogy. As you read you become ever more immersed in the story and it just seems to get better and better.

Here's what others say:

"Refreshingly original" Jenny Wurts

"I couldn't put this novel down" Starburst

This Assassin's Apprentice book review was written by

We interviewed Robin Hobb on 2012-03-04 logo logo

All reviews for: The Farseer Trilogy

Have you read Assassin's Apprentice?

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Assassin's Apprentice reader reviews

from London


Robin Hobb is a wonderful author, and this is her best series. I adore it. The characters are so human, and over the course of the series you grow to love them like they're your friends. Yes, it can get depressing, but everything has a narrative purpose; it isn't just gratuitous cruelty. I've read this many times, and hope to read it many more. Beautifully written, wonderful characters, engaging story. Everything good fantasy should be.

from US


First page was a bit meh but as I read on the book drew me in and made me feel like I was that boy. This book was outstanding.

from Australia


This book could be the best book I have ever read. The good guy beats the bad guys and wins BUT he lost EVERYTHING but his life. SO CRUEL, BUT GOOD TO READ.

from South Africa


I adore this book. It gripped me by the throat from the beginning and didn't let go. I went on to read all the books in all the series more than once - highly, highly recommended - and I think this book is my favourite. Perhaps it holds a special place in my heart because it was my introduction to this magnificent writer's work? Write on Robin Hobb!

from Australia


The first page of this book is what made me keep reading the whole series. Somehow the idea of a small child being swung along in a warm, steady hand in a wind swept, icy street, and the way it was written completely captured a child of that age and their curiosities and their odd way of perceiving the world. The author has a way of writing that I hardly ever see where everything she wrote seemed to have been planned ahead in complete detail. But the main character gets completely bashed up, everything goes wrong and although there are happy moments the author made his life very depressing. This is definitely a fantasy-lovers book and as others have said, not for the faint-hearted. This is one of those book series that is a beautiful piece of art but not a overly happy one.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

from Glasgow,KY


There is "NO WAY" this series is out of the top five. This series is a must read for fantasy readers!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

8.1/10 from 27 reviews

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