You’ll know by now that I’m a big fantasy fan and as I work my way through some of the bigger names, I keep seeing the name “Robin Hobb” springing up with the Farseer Trilogy being her first entry into the genre. Therefore, when it won a poll on my Twitter and was sitting on my bookshelf, I thought it a good time to go ahead and give it a read.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase any products via the links provided below, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These affiliate links do not affect my final opinion of the product.
Assassin’s Apprentice is all about Fitz and his rise from an abandoned orphan to someone who people respect and adhere to become. This first novel introduces us to the world, his struggles and some of the great characters he’s going to share the sequel’s pages with. It’s a book that, despite being her debut novel shows Hobb’s clear talent for not only storytelling but also writing.
Assassin’s Apprentice plot – 4/5
Assassin’s Apprentice tells the tale of Fitz – a name he was not born with and a name that never really throughout the book is it confirmed is his name as other people call him other things. However, a name nonetheless he is referred to in all lore. He is dumped on the doorstep of royalty and told that he is the son of Chivalry Farseer, a prince, son of the king. He is then given to a local in the castle grounds called Burrich who goes on to care for him like a father, trying to teach this wild young man rights and wrongs. Along his journey, as he grows older, he faces problems with bullying due to being a bastard and he faces troubles with socialising as it’s not something he’s accustomed to. More importantly, though, he learns of his ability to communicate with animals using an ancient power called Wit.
I don’t want to spoil the story too much more as it’s something you really must read to enjoy. This isn’t quite as high fantasy as some other novels I’ve read. The magic isn’t something physical or tangible, it’s more of a mental experience and bond with an animal and here aren’t yet any tales of any super mythological creatures – I say soon as I know this is a trilogy and so could very much happen later on in the books.
The pacing and writing within this novel are both superb. Nothing ever truly races along but it is told in such a compelling way that you find yourself very invested in the characters and the story. As I mentioned earlier, despite this being her debut novel, Assassin’s Apprentice is a very composed novel that seems to have been very well throughout beforehand and executed maturely.
Assassin’s Apprentice characters – 5/5
Did anyone else fall in love with Burrich? Burrich comes into Fitz’s life early on, not really sure what to do with him and clearly no intention of ever truly fathering him – simply helping him along in life until he is given a proper father. However, Burrich finds himself caring for Fitz way more than I think he initially intended. He loses his temper at him when he’s not careful, he fears for his safety often and he sees when Fitz is scared and, despite not being a man of deep emotions, understands the need to comfort him. He was brilliant and possibly my favourite character.
Fitz himself is the main character – the book is told from his point of view and so we often hear his thoughts and considerations and see things from his angle. He’s not the most charismatic character, but his character arc is phenomenal. He grows from a quiet and timid young boy into a much braver and more confident young man who is strong-willed enough to speak to princes and answer back to his superiors.
There are villains in this book too – I don’t want to give away too much of the plot so won’t necessarily name them here. However, their intentions are evident from fairly early on and they become quite spiteful throughout. Fitz’s being a bastard of a prince causes some to be envious, others to simply dislike him for not having been born into wedlock and such else. You’ll despise these characters and take comfort in their discomfort.
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb overall rating – 4/5
I wanted to give Assassin’s Apprentice five stars but felt that it was missing just a little bit more action. For me, not enough huge memorable moments happened. However, it is still a fantastically written and highly intriguing first book in a new fantasy series for me which I know has sequels that can equal if not better it. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next in the series and many other books by Robin Hobb.