This book was given to me in the hopes that it would get me out of my reading comfort zone, and it sure did the trick in the best way possible. Though I have read fantasy novels such as The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, and while I feel Assassin’s Apprentice does have some similarities with such books, I’ve never really read this kind of fantasy before. Though, admittedly, it did take me a long time to read whilst reading other books, I enjoyed very moment of Robin Hobb’s tale of adventure, mystery and assassination told through the eyes of one incredible character, FitzChivalry Farseer.
Fitz is definitely my favourite thing about this novel. He is incredibly likeable and so well constructed, and I was thoroughly entertained reading about his adventures in the royal kingdom of Buckkeep Castle, Six Duchies. I think what I like most about Fitz is his relationship with animals. I mean, he’s a loyal, humble and well-meaning person towards humans (well, most) as well, but his connection with animals, particularly with dogs, is especially endearing. There are a few other friendships he makes that are also great to read, such as with Burrich, Chade, The Fool, Molly, Lady Patience and Verity. But, of course, to explain in detail the appeal of Fitz’s friendships and companionships would be giving too much away. All I can say is that everything Fitz & Co is a delight to read.
Of course, there are also some “evil” and horrendous characters in the novel and these are also great to read. As is the whole attack on Six Duchies by the Red-Ship raiders, though that particular plot line, for the most part, takes a back step in comparison with Fitz’s general character development and coming-of-age arc of the novel – in which he learns of his powers of the Wit, is trained as an assassin and taught the Skill. Throughout the novel Fitz is faced with many different tasks, from killing for the King to appealing to Lady Patience’s taste for art. Whatever the task, Fitz does his all and is (usually) successful. He doesn’t give up, and I think that’s another thing I really liked about Fitz as a character. But I won’t continue on and on about how much I like Fitz and put words in your throat. The point is that Robin Hobb is very good at crafting her characters, and I definitely think, if you ever decide to read this novel, that you will fall in love with them – even the ones that make you frustrated and angry.
Hobb is generally just a really fantastic writer. Her way of writing is easy to understand and relate to, and it’s just very neat and subtle. Nothing pretentious or overly wordy about it whatsoever. There is literally nothing to fault with her style and I never expected there would be. The world she has built is brilliant and brutal. Imaginative and also so believable I almost started thinking it was a real place (well, you know, to the same degree that I wish there was a Hogwarts out there). She’s a fantastic storyteller and she really leaves no room for boredom of any kind. Even if a majority of the novel is spent following Fitz around while he does his daily chores/training/tasks, and even if (I suppose) not a lot happens in the first half of the book, it is all so incredibly enjoyable to read that while you’re reading it you kind of forget Fitz has been doing the same thing for pages and pages. I think this is because Fitz goes through a lot of human stuff – loneliness, first love, disappointment, loss, boredom, vulnerability, anger – and everything is incredibly relatable, even when you’re not actually a fantasy character living in a royal kingdom. While a majority of the novel is a lovely, slow build that is fascinating to read, there are also a lot of exciting moments and I can say for certain that for much of my reading time, such as during the last fifty pages, my heart was bursting with nerves. It was exciting and enticing reading and I am very glad to have finally read it.
This is a fantastic book and I urge you to add it to your reading lists. I’m definitely looking forwards to getting my hands on the next books and seeing what comes of Fitz and his friends next!