Saturday, 29 September 2018

Assassin's Apprentice

Fitz is the illegitimate son of Prince Chivalry, in a land where royalty are named for the qualities they will possess. A bastard can be a liability and Chivalry abdicates his position as king-in-waiting, but not to care for his son. Instead Fitz grows up on the edges of the court, learning many skills, but never claimed.

It is a wonder we did not all break our necks. But there it is; sometimes luck belongs to children and madmen. That night I felt we were both.

It was probably about time I tried some Robin Hobb, so I started at the beginning. It's worth bearing in mind Assassin's Apprentice was first published in 1995 as the premise of a royal bastard seems a bit of an overdone trope now. I'm really not keen on people blaming children for something their parents did. I found it very slow paced at first, with plenty of time recounting Fitz's early life and it was only in the second half that I found myself enjoying it.

Fitz possesses both Wit and Skill. The Wit is a deep connection with animals, sharing minds and feelings. In some cases a bond forms between human and animal, and this can lead to the animal side taking over. It's considered a terrible thing to possess and Fitz is warned off using it. The Skill on the other hand is considered a royal trait and it's a connection between humans. If you ask me, they sound like the same thing.

However, Fitz finds himself being raised by the stablemaster Burrich. Understandably, Fitz gets along well with the horses and dogs, and Burrich discovers what he can do and forbids him from bonding with another animal. I liked the idea of the Wit and was a bit frustrated that it was considered such a bad thing. Fitz is the first person narrator, so you can tell it's not corrupting him. It seems to be the Skill that's more of a danger to him.

Very little worth knowing is taught by fear.

Eventually Fitz is brought into the royal family to be trained as an assassin. Eventually his new status as assassin's apprentice leads him to the town of Forge, where they discover something terrible has been done. This is where things picked up for me, suddenly there was a plot to get attached to. I think this whole book is mostly setting things up for a longer series. And it is long, but divided into trilogies.

Whilst I'm not chomping at the bit to read the next book, I think I will give it a go in the future. I've put in the work getting to know this world and characters and hopefully there's won't be as much of a slow build up next time.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 11. A book by a female author who uses a male pseudonym
Science-Fiction vs Fantasy Bingo: Epic

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Book Source: Purchased

2 comments:

  1. So happy you got around to reading some Robin Hobb, I'm a big fan of the 'Fitz' trilogies. I'm about to start the last book of the last trilogy now - Assassin's Fate in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy and I will be sad when I've finished them all. Once you've ready the first book it's so nice to pop back into that familiar world.

    I'm afraid you're not going to escape the slow build ups though. I mean, they're not a Robert Jordan 400 page build up, but they're not action packed all the way through. So good though!

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    Replies
    1. I don't mind no action, it's the lack of a hint of a plot for the first third of the book. At least Fitz's childhood is over now ;)

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