First published: 1996
Author: Robin Hobb
***THIS IS THE SECOND BOOK IN THE SERIES. THEREFORE, THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS AND REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK. YOU CAN CHECK OUT MY SPOILER FREE REVIEW FOR THE FIRST BOOK INSTEAD***
Synopsis: Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.
Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.
Two years later, I finally continued with the series. My thoughts on this book are remarkably similar with my thoughts on the first one. It’s quite slow to begin with, although I think it wasn’t as slow as the first one. The first one took about half the book for anything to really happen, whereas with this one, once I got past the first third or so, things started picking up.
There was a lot of focus on Fitz’s romance with Molly, which I didn’t enjoy at all. I wish we’d had less of that (fingers crossed the third book has less of that going on). I didn’t care about the relationship at all. It was awkward and while the obsessing that took place is realistic, it’s also very annoying. Like, I find it annoying even when I’m the one doing the obsessing, I really don’t want to be in someone else’s head while they’re doing it. It didn’t help that I still don’t really care about the characters. I don’t dislike them or anything, I’m just detached. I’m not invested in their happiness and well-being, if that makes sense. I care a lot more about the story and the romance really didn’t move that forward in any way. So I personally didn’t like it, but I guess if you care about Fitz and Molly and you like angsty romances, this might be something you enjoy.
Again, this is very political. I think it’s not as political as the first one. There’s a bit more good old fashioned sword fights, but the political machinations are still the main focus. Which I enjoyed more than I did in the first book. Fitz started to think more for himself and make his own decisions, instead of blindly going along with other people’s manoeuvring. Which I definitely liked to see.
We also learnt a bit more about the magic, which was my favourite part. I wish there had been more of that going on and less romance. It was also sorely lacking in assassin stuff for a book that’s called Royal Assassin. That’s a persisting problem from the first book. I want more sneaking about and killing people, is that so much to ask? I also would have liked to get more about the external threat. As I said, it’s a very political story, so a lot of the threats and antagonists are internal politics, but there is also the external threat of the raiders, which is quite mysterious in a way and we don’t learn a lot more about it. We learn a little, but not as much as I would have liked.
All in all, as with the first book, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. I will continue with the series. I have heard that the subsequent series are better and are worth pushing through this one. Hopefully it won’t take me another two years to get to book 3 though.