Fitz! What a character … What a story! I don’t know why it took me so long to start reading Robin Hobb, but I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it because now I have so many of her other books to explore. Assassin’s Apprentice was hands down one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. There we go, review over. No need for any more praise than that. Ok, you aren’t here to read a ten second review. Here are a few more thoughts.
This was a refreshing example of a coming of age story for me. The first person narrative worked extremely well in making you feel like you were watching the story unfold from Fitz’s mind. It kept other characters mysterious and at a distance. It also kept up a good level of suspense. A good page turner for me is a book which constantly leaves you hanging, needing to know more, to unravel more clues. Hobb did this splendidly with Assassin’s apprentice.
The thing I reflect on the most is how much I liked the different characters. Fitz has many mentor figures as well as a few adversaries who are all unique, flawed and well developed. In addition to this his affinity with animals was something which added a real flavour to the book. I always like it when a character has great companions. To have great animal companions, well, it doesn’t get much better than that. Drizzt anyone?
Something I found refreshing was the fact that this was an opening book of a trilogy and did not focus on world changing events. Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of the ‘save the world’ stories. But it was nice to see a first book focus more on the main character’s growth, with some world changing events only hinted at in the background.
Hobb also has a great magic system in place. One which makes it a powerful thing in the world but also dangerous to use. I felt it added that real fantastical element to the tale, but did not overtake the narrative. There were times when I really wanted to hear a little bit more about ‘The Skill’ but I am sure that will come in later novels.
Now let me come to my favourite part of the book. The Fool. Most fantasy stories have some element of prophecy or destiny in them. The Fool is a character who is mysterious and hints at prophecy, but not in a blatant way. I did not at once feel like he was contrived or merely used to drive the story. I felt like he was a living breathing part of the world. And I can’t wait to find out more about him.
Overall I cannot more highly recommend this book to anyone who has not read it. In fact don’t read any more of this, go out and by Assassin’s Apprentice and start reading!