Well, and so it all comes to an end. As I began writing this review I thought back to first beginning my journey into the Realm of the Elderlings. The year was 2006 and I was in Manchester Piccadilly train station, looking for a new book to read on my daily commute. The on-site WH Smiths was my first port of call and I don’t know whether it was the synopsis or the wonderful John Howe artwork that made Assassin’s Apprentice stand out but I bought it, hopped on to the train, and began reading immediately. And so began an unforgettable journey that has lasted for over a decade.
Looking back at my review of Assassin’s Apprentice I was surprised to find it less than glowing. While it was far from negative a summary might read like this: “It’s okay and I look forward to reading book two”. Hardly effusive. I can only explain this by mentioning that it can sometimes take a while to get into a series, you need time for the characters within to become friends and the world in which they live to become somewhere you want to visit time and time again. If there is a recurring complaint levelled against Hobb’s Elderlings books it is that they are a bit grim and that they are perhaps overly dark, containing large amounts of angst from our first person narrator, Fitz. But this is what I like about the books, the characters are flawed and real and life is indeed often difficult, and many are often unhappy. This series reflects that but once it gets its hooks into you, it doesn’t let go, and it becomes one of the greatest fantasy series you will ever read. It has it all: It is beautifully written, the characters are wonderful and the plot twists and turns, forever engaging. It is a story worth falling into completely and utterly.
Assassin’s Fate brings to an end the story of Fitz and the Fool. And it does it well, with the second half of the book being especially moving and rewarding. The Fitz and the Fool trilogy is not my favourite in the series (the original Farseer, Tawny Man and Liveship Traders trilogies hold that honour) but as is the case with anything written by Robin Hobb, it is a work of art.
I’d have to be honest and admit that the first half of the book dragged a little for me. I never actually wanted to set the book aside but I found myself not reading it a great deal each day and progress was slow. But once Fitz and the Fool journey to Clerres, alongside old friends from previous trilogies, the momentum picks up and the story became so much more enjoyable to read.
Assassin’s Fate is a Robin Hobb book, and that means it is a grade above most fantasy novels. The characters are real, indeed there has been some interesting character development in this series with the Fool becoming someone with whom it was easy to grow less fond of and to actively dislike on occasion. Most readers wanted the closure this book brought to be deserving of the series as a whole. In my opinion the final chapters achieved exactly this and gave me the closure I hoped for.
This review isn’t for those new to this series, it is for those who, like me, want to know if this denouement provides the fitting ending we all so desperately craved. I believe it does, it may not be my favourite Elderlings book and series but it is a touching and satisfying end to the life, loves and adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer.
Review by Floresiensis
City of Dragons, the third instalment in The Rain Wild Chronicles, will be published in the UK on the 23rd of April 2012. In advance of the book's release, Robin Hobb has kindly taken time to expound on the inspirations b [...]
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