Robin Hobb: Assassin’s Quest (The Farseer Trilogy #3) (review)

423053_10150667428926823_1450689760_nIt wasn’t Tolkien and Lord of the Rings who taught me to love fantasy. Nope. Weis and Hickman’s Chronicles Trilogy from the DragonLance shared world series is responsible for that. I fell in love with this story of – of course – unlikely heroes who go on a quest to save the world of Krynn and I fell in love with this world of kenders, draconians, gully dwarves and so much more.
It’s been about 15 years since I read this trilogy and since then  I have loved fantasy – and I have read and loved Lord of the Rings too. However, I feel that it’s hard to find good fantasy. More often than not, fantasy is either a band of unlikely heroes – as in LOTR and in DragonLance Chronicles – or one hero facing overwhelming odds but still finishing their quest – like in Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1). There’s nothing wrong with that as long as it’s done in a new and refreshing way.
The Farseer Trilogy is of the second kind. This is definitely one hero against the world – and never more than in this third book. When we left Fitz in the second book, he had been tortured by Regal, died and had been brought back to life by Burrich and Chade, his sort of adoptive father and his sort of uncle. When we meet him in this one, he is slowly trying to learn to be alive and a human again – after having survived by letting his soul live inside of Nighteyes.
He becomes more and more himself but with a lot of anger inside after being tortured in the Buckkeep dungeon. Anger which he lets loose on Burrich which makes both Burrich and Chade leave him alone to grow up and learn to be his own man. So what does Fitz do? He goes after Regal who has crowned himself king and has moved his entire court away from the coast and left Buckkeep and the coastal duchies to fend for themselves.
But Regal and his group of Skill users are not an easy target which Fitz learns the hard way. This forces Verity to interfere to save Fitz and by doing this, he puts a quest in Fitz’ head – to find Verity.
Verity left on a quest to bring the Elderlings back to safe Buckkeep and save the kingdom and is somewhere beyond the Mountain Kingdom. Followed by Regal’s guards and his skill users, Fitz flees towards the mountains and picks up a group of – yes, you guessed it – unlikely heroes on his way. Most noteworthy of course is always Nighteyes. Fitz’ wolf companion is a huge part of what makes this book special and Hobb manages to create great scenes and amazing action both when Nighteyes is around and when he joins a pack of wolves and leaves Fitz to fend for himself for a period of time.
This is the longest book in the trilogy and it is a bit too long in places. Part of the traveling gets longwinded but still, the book has amazing characters. Kettle and Starling end up as part of the group traveling with Fitz and especially Kettle is a mystery. But even more of a mystery is, why Verity has been gone for so long and what, if anything, he has discovered.
Despite it’s flaws, this is such a good book. Even when I thought it a bit long-winded, I was still intrigued and read every chance I got. I just wanted to know what happened to Verity and Kettricken and if they would ever find each other again? To the Fool who disappeared with Kettricken when they fled Buckkeep and Regal. To Molly, Burrich, Chade, the Lady Patience and all the other characters we’ve grown to love over these three books.
And especially what happened to Verity. Without revealing too much, I have to say that he finds what he was looking for – but that it maybe wasn’t quite what he expected when he set out on his quest.
Finally the cover of this book promises dragons – or at least one dragon – and yes, there are dragons. Not your regular fantasy fire breathing dragon though. These are much more complex creatures – and I absolutely loved them.
Without revealing the ending, this is definitely not your typical ending. Because of this, because of these books being so good and because I want something to come after this for Fitz and Nighteyes, I’m really happy that there are more books about Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. This series has rekindled my love of the fantasy genre.

First line: I awake every morning with ink on my hands.

  • Title: Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy #2)
  • Author: Robin Hobb
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Year: 2007 (original 1996)
  • Pages: 838 pages
  • Source: Own collection
  • Stars: 4 stars out of 5

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Robin Hobb: Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy #2) (review)

RoyalAssassin-UKSo if anyone has any doubts about how I feel about this series, just look at the pace I’m reading them at. The first two books have been read in 10 days. 1200+ pages. I have definitely found a new favorite fantasy author and I have been longing for that. These books are clever and intriguing with well-fleshed out characters.
Including our main protagonist Fitz. When we left him at the end of the first book, he was in the Mountain Kingdom, having been poisoned several times and almost killed by Prince Regal but was saved by his very first puppy. Yes, Nosy showed up, saved the day and gave his life for the boy he had loved. How happy I was to see that Burrich hadn’t killed Nosy as both Fitz and I believed.
He struggles home to Buckkeep where he is greeted with joy by many – but not all, of course. One of the first days back, he happens to walk around in the small town next to the keep and is drawn to a young wolf pup who has been caught and put in a cage by an animal trader. Fitz buys him with the intention of feeding him and making him strong enough to survive on his own in the wild. But slowly the wild animal breaks down the walls Fitz has erected around him after having lost two bonded animals and the two slowly become pack. And so Nighteyes is added to the cast of characters. ‘My mother named me Nighteyes. I was the last of my litter to get my eyes open.’ Nighteyes is an amazing addition to the cast of characters and it is very clear that it wasn’t enough for FItz to bond with a dog – he needed a strong and wild animal, a woolf. But of course, bonding with a wolf and keeping a wolf at a keep is not necessarily an easy task. Not only does the wolf not quite understand boundaries – which can be awkward if you wish to get intimate with someone – but being Witted, being able to bond with animals this way, is not really allowed. If you’re caught, you risk being hanged over water and then burned. So of course Fitz try to keep Nighteyes a secret.
But with more and more tasks given to FItz from the King-in-Waiting Verity and with these tasks requiring fighting, working together with a wolf can be hard to hide. Especially since Fitz is not necessarily is the best fighter and Nighteyes sometimes have to save his life. As Verity comments at one point in this book, ‘The most distinctive part of your fighting style is the incredible way you have of surviving them.’
While Verity is working to save his kingdom from Outislanders attacking the people and turning them into emotionless zombies, the Forged ones, his half-brother Regal is doing his best to gain as much power as possible. And at the same time, king Shrewd is apparently being poisoned by his new man-servant Wallace and it seems that the only one paying any attention to the king is the Fool – who also happens to be one of the most mysterious, enigmatic and interesting characters in the book.
As is Kettricken, the Queen-in-Waiting, who struggles to find her place at a court which is so very different from the one where she grew up – and who is becoming dangerous to Regal when she finds ways to impress the people of both the keep and the country.
So what this boils down to, is some very clever fantasy. I love these books. Fitz is annoying at times but I’m still desperately rooting for him to succeed and find love with Molly, his childhood friend. And I think it is a compliment to Hobb’s writing that she can make her readers care about a main character who sometimes is rather annoying. Also I just love the animal aspect of these. I love the bond between Nighteyes and Fitz and there’s a lot of humor in the description of their relationships – especially when Nighteyes interferes where Fitz doesn’t want him!
I am so happy to have found a fantasy author who can make just want to read and read and see what happens to these wonderful characters – and who luckily has written a lot of books and seem to write a new one every year.

First line: Why is it forbidden to write down specific knowledge of the magics?

  • Title: Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy #2)
  • Author: Robin Hobb
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Year: 2007 (original 1996)
  • Pages: 752 pages
  • Source: Own collection
  • Stars: 5 stars out of 5

Related post:

Robin Hobb: Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy #1) (review)

tumblr_static_assassins_aprenticeFor some reason, it’s important which book you start the year with. If you start the year with a lousy book, you sort of have to spend the rest of the year trying to make up for it, whereas if you start with a good or even great book, it’s like the year can’t go wrong. So a huge amount of pressure rests on that first book.
My first book this year was the first book in Robin Hobb’s The Farseer TrilogyAssassin’s Apprentice is a book I’ve been waiting to read for a while after my good friend Henrik told me about it. However, he also told me that I would cry my eyes out while reading it – and that sort of book demands a certain kind of mood. And even though I’m not quite sure how to describe that mood, apparently that was the mood I was in when I started reading this book – and it turned out to be perfect.
Assassin’s Apprentice is the story of the bastard Fitz. Fitz is born to the King-in-Waiting Chivalry and when his grandfather delivers the six-years old kid to the castle, he sets more events in motion than anyone could foresee. Fitz is handed over to the stable master Burrich who is told to take care of him. Burrich is the best at his job – at taking care of dogs, horses and falcons but not exactly skilled at taking care of boys. Still he does the absolutely best he can – by putting the boy in with one of his dogs and her puppies. Fitz survives but bonds with one of the puppies. Normally no one would mind that a boy bonds with a puppy but Fitz has a certain ability, the Wit, which makes him able to sense what animals see, smell, experience. And Burrich will not allow this bonding because he’s afraid that Fitz will turn into a dog himself as the old legends say will happen. So he takes the puppy away and Fitz is heartbroken.
However, Fitz’s uncle, the King-in-Waiting Verity interferes and orders that the boy is taken to the keep and trained properly as befits a boy of the royal blood – even if the boy is a bastard. Still, Fitz has to grow up in a hostile environment. He’s the bastard and his father gives up his position, apparently because of the shame of fathering a bastard and what this means to his barren queen. So just by being born, Fitz has upset the kingdom.
But king Shrewd recognizes the importance of a bastard and he lets the boy know that whenever the boy needs him, he can come see him. But despite all this, Fitz has to learn everything the hard way and not everyone wish to see him succeed. Especially his other uncle, Prince Regal, is keen to get rid of him.
But Fitz grows up and makes some friends – among them Verity and also his late father’s widow the Lady Patience who even gifts him a small terrier, the second animal Fitz bonds with. Smithy becomes Fitz’s strength in a harsh life that includes training as a assassin with the mysterious Chade. But even more important is Molly, the candle maker’s daughter he meets in the small town next to the King’s keep. The children spend many happy hours playing and growing up together – even though Fitz always hides from her that he’s the royal Bastard.
And when the kingdom of Six Duchies is attacked repeatedly by raiders who not only kill and destroy but also does something to the people they capture that leaves them as bare shells of themselves; shells that are still capable of killing whoever they come in contact with, Fitz has to prove his worth. These Forged ones, as they are called, and their destruction becomes one of Fitz’s first duties for his king.
This was fantasy when it’s best. It was just so very clever throughout. I could see some of Hobb’s tricks at times and whenever I noticed one, it was to marvel at how clever she was at creating a world with a believable magic that doesn’t overpower the world or the story. In this world, there’s two types of magic – the Wit which is bonding with animals and the Skill which is a sort of telepathy. Only the Skill is socially acceptable and actually a part of the Royal line whereas the Wit is frowned upon and therefore Fitz has to hide his bonds with animals and his ability to sense their thoughts and feelings.
I really liked how the people in the Royal family are named after the traits, they are hoped to possess. So we have King Shrewd, his three sons Chivalry, Verity and Regal, we have a lady Patience and much more. I also really really liked the way she describes the animals and Fitz’s connection to them. Here’s Fitz and Smithy on their way back home after meeting Molly: ‘All the way up to the keep Smithy keep prattling to himself about all the perfumes he’d smelt on her and how she had scratched him ust where he could never reach in front of his ears and of the sweet biscuit she’d fed him in the tea shop.’ (p. 282-283) And I liked that the characters are not just black or white but have several shades of grey. The bad guys are bad yes, but there are reasons that explains at least part of why they are the way they are. One of my favorite characters was Burrich. This big strong man who would do anything and everything for his master, king-in-waiting Chivalry and who is very hurt by being left behind at the keep when Chivalry abdicates. And even though he is a stern teacher, he takes care of Fitz as he knows best – and he can be a real mamma bear when someone hurts Fitz.
All in all I just flew through this one, enjoying everything about it. It was engaging, interesting and exciting. This is what fantasy can be when it’s strong. I am in love with this world, Hobb has created and I’m so glad that not only is this the first in a trilogy but there are several more trilogies taking place in this world – and some even claim that this is the weakest trilogy. Whether that is so or not, I’m looking so much forward to spending more time in this world.

First line: A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history of its ruling family, the Farseers.

  • Title: Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy #1)
  • Author: Robin Hobb
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Year: 2007 (original 1995)
  • Pages:  460 pages
  • Source: Own collection
  • Stars: 5 stars out of 5