Genre: Adult, fantasy
First published: 1995
Author: Robin Hobb
Synopsis: Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.
It’s been a couple months since I’ve read this book (I’m very behind with my reviews), so I’m having a bit of a hard time gathering my thoughts about it. I did enjoy the book, particularly the second half of it. My main issue was that it was quite slow to begin with. The first half or so was just exposition. Not much happened. And it did give an indea of the characters and the world and so on, but I felt that information could have been more spread out and mixed with some action.
Because it was so slow to begin with, it felt a bit like reading half a book. Even though there were things going on, they weren’t very exciting things. They were somewhat mundane. And in a way, it makes it feel somehow more authentic because life is not a constant whirlwind, and it sets things up, but I just got a bit bored in the beginning.
However, the story was very interesting and I’m intrigued by it. I’m really curious to see what happens next and I look forward to learning more about our main character and about the magic and about what exactly is going on. The book is written by the main character as a sort of autobiography and the little we glimpse of his current condition has me really curious to know more about his life.
While I did like the characters, I didn’t feel any particular connection to any of them and I think that also contributed to me being a bit bored. I was also a bit disappointed in the limited assassin page time. I love assassins, but it took a good quarter of the book, maybe even more, before anything about any assassin was even mentioned. And I was expecting more assassin training.
I did find the magic (or at least the little we know of it) to be really cool. Fitz’s ability with animals in particular. It’s so cool, I wish I could do that! But I have a lot of questions about the magic. There were some strange things that happened that I’m really curious about.
The plot is very political and if you enjoy that sort of thing, you’ll probably like the book because I thought it was well done. I personally found it a bit heavy on the political side. I do enjoy political plots, but it gets to a point where they’re too much for me. Especially if the main character isn’t actually trying to subvert the system. What can I say, I’m a rebel at heart.
Finally, the writing… I think the writing also contributed a bit to my boredom. It’s a bit dawdling. Sometimes uses too many words to say very little. Hobb’s style is not my favourite. It’s not bad writing though, it’s just a matter of personal taste. I can recognise the merit of her writing and i don’t hate it, but I don’t particularly like it either.
All in all, it was a good book and I do intend to continue with the series and perhaps even read some of her other series.