Assassin’s Apprentice (1995) – Robin Hobb: 4/5
Why have I never heard of Robin Hobb until 2 years ago? And why did it take me another year before I bought the first novel of her Farseer Trilogy, the Assassin’s Apprentice?!
We follow a young boy, Fitz, the bastard of a Prince, in a land shaken by the threat of raiders and internal deceptions. Fitz is ordered to keep close to the royal family so that he doesn’t threaten the succession. As the King begins to see the advantages of having this bastard under his control, Fitz undergoes harsh, unforgiving training, and becomes entangled in the vicious world of court politics.
Admittedly, this was a slow start for me. I kept putting the book down, and when picking it up again, only read a chapter or so. The other day I finally managed to sit down and actually enjoy this book. It’s safe to say it was completely finished a day later, and I was inwardly cursing myself that I hadn’t finished it sooner. I will still maintain that it was a slow start though, no matter how much the second half picked up. This is the reason for my 4 star rating of what would otherwise be a 5 star book. Some chapters were just far too slow, but having finished I understand why. It all lies in the development of the characters. While this could have been achieved with a much faster pace, this type of ‘bildungsroman-fantasy’ warrants the depth and detail of Hobb’s writing style. I became very attached to her characters, one of which hardly featured at all, but I absolutely loved her!
It wasn’t action packed, so if, like me, you’re fooled by the word ‘Assassin’s‘ into thinking there is going to be plenty of juicy assassinations, this this may fall short for you. There are a few action scenes, but I think as a whole Hobb was much more concerned with the development and training of her main character, Fitz. Don’t get me wrong, watching Fitz steadily grow through his training and relationships was indeed enjoyable, though something was lacking in the action department which could have kept the plot rolling forwards at a more tense and fast pace.
Although I am noticing something as I write this… There is a marked lack of emotion in this review, Assassin’s Apprentice hasn’t really inspired any love or excitement within me. It didn’t make me rush to write anything down, or finish the book sighing or tearing my hair out until I get the second installment. I really, really want Royal Assassin but I’m not leaping to Waterstones for it. As much as it was a fantastically well written, thoroughly detailed and delectable epic fantasy, it’s missing that extra something special for me to truly love the novel.
I’m still getting my hands on that second book though; boy can Hobb write fantasy!!