on 15 July 1999
Having read the first in trilogy, "Assassins Apprentice" I approached this with some trepidation, middle books in trilogies usually being somewhat flat, merely building to the climax in the last novel. However, I need not have worried. Throughout the novel is well written in elegant prose, the pace is extremely good. Although it is a much longer book than the first, the length is not superfluous, Robin Hobb was not merely trying to write a long book for the sake of it, but needed to. The snapshot of a corrupt, intrigue entangled court is superb, and trying to sort out this web of betrayal is a major pleasure. The twists and turns are always well done, and contain moments when you knash your teeth in despair and want to scream at the characters. The air of tension in the novel is as good as many a thriller I have read.
Most of all, the characters are compelling, with the strong King-in-Waiting Verity, a good man on the verge of despair, the implacable Burrich and so on. All the characters seem to have layers, few of the major characters - with the possible exception of Prince Regal. Fitz, the central character is in the true mold of a modern Fantasy hero, a normal person forced into high events and is throughout a character it is easy to sympathise with.
The book touches on many issues - love, honour, duty, betrayal - and deals well with them, without being superficial or trite.
The only major gripe in this otherwise excellent novel is the slight feeling of smallness, of a very limited world. This is not a major problem, however, as the world Robin Hobb has created is rich enough.
on 3 May 2005
Firstly...I am not going to give away one single shred of the story or indeed character developments that continue into this, the gripping second book in the Farseer Trilogy, because I have no doubt that would make me the most hated follower of this magnificent series.
When I came to the end of this book I ran (and I mean RAN) to my local bookstore to lay my hands on the final instalment of the story of Fitz, the Fool, Molly, Chade, Verity and each and every one of the many more characters brilliantly brought to life by Hobb. I ran not only because it was 4.40pm, the bookstore would be closing and I was in imminent danger of waiting days, or maybe even weeks to discover all that would follow in this utterly engaging character driven and magical, fantasy, adventure drama, but also because even minutes being left in the dark after the cliff-hanger that brings to a close 'Royal Assassin' seemed like a fate worse than death.
So, whatever you do, don't buy 'Royal Assassin' without also purchasing 'Assassin's Quest', or at least having a darn good contingency plan should you find yourself at the end of this book without the conclusion to the trilogy...you've been warned! I only wish I was being clever and exaggerating, but it's the absolute truth- the finale is breath-taking, so ignore my advice at your peril dear readers!!
on 21 April 2001
I'd read Robin's "LiveShip Traders" trilogy and enjoyed that, as well as the first in this trilogy: Assassin's Apprentice. So I was very pleased to find that this book was even better.
Sure, some of the characters can be frustrating at times - just like people are in real life! And I found myself feeling for the Fool, whose wit at times is quite brilliant.
The plot twists and turns, with plenty of intrigue and surprises around each corner. And yes, you know *the* tragedy is coming - it's unavoidable and there's nothing you can do about it. But that just makes it even more painful in some ways, and adds to the depth of the narrative.
Overall then, I found it an excellent and gripping story - well recommended by this reader.
on 26 July 2013
Just finished this book and had to immediately start the next in the trilogy, I am really enjoying this trilogy!
Fitz grows up quite a lot in this book, and gradually begins to be more actively instrumental in the goings on in the realm. The complexity of the characters and storyline is what makes this book so compelling; there's never a clear right decision at any of the many crossroads, which helps the characters avoid what is (in my opinion) a common flaw in fantasy books, by being 'good' or 'evil' and thus being too predictable. Of course there is a clear 'baddie', but even Regal grows into his evilness, so every new level is still a surprise rather than the expected course.
I personally prefer slightly more complex magic systems (the Wit and the Skill seem to be just enhanced abilities to talk to people), though the way Fitz used the Wit to escape the dungeons at the end of the book suggest that there may still be more to these powers than has yet been revealed?
There are a good number of well rounded characters, the fool and Kettricken in particularly intriguing ways... an exception for me would be Molly, who started book one as a free-spirited ragamuffin, and has developed into a bit of a needy wet blanket who makes candles. Though I imagine she will reappear with Fitz's Fitz at some point and create another twist...
on 26 June 2009
The whole of this series (the farseer trilogy) is excellent, you'd be hardput to review one book on it's own. Ok, it's been a while since I read this book, but I loved every moment of it, and I just wanted it to keep going!
Hobb's descriptions are perfect, she never over describes or underdescribes anything. The book is not littered with unneccisary dialogue, description or text, everything that is said or done is done for a reason, be it progressing the story or developing characters.
Fitz is a character who will remain with me forever, I have fallen in love with him, and from early on in the first book (assassin's apprentice) he became my favourite literary character. You grow up with fitz, knowing him from when he is a small, nervous boy to when he becomes a strong, intelligent and wonderful man. He is not perfect, as all good heroes should, he has his flaws, but to be honest, they just made me love him even more. He is so well developed, that if you aren't careful, he starts taking over your mind (maybe that's just me...)
I can't just talk about fitz though, all the characters are wonderful, each developed brilliantly and expertly, even Nighteyes, who, as a wolf, you'd expect not to have much to say, or not play a big part, but this story wouldn't be the same without him, his quirky ways, and his interaction with Fitz is brilliant! He teaches him the simple life of a wolf, allowing fitz to see things with new eyes, he scolds him when even he can see what has been done is wrong, and he encourages him and keeps him going even when it looks like all is lost.
With such memorable characters like the Fool, Kettricken, nighteyes, fitz and many, many more, you'd be silly not to read this series.
The storyline itself is great, it doesn't move too slowly or too quickly, allowing you to absorb each event in turn.
I can't say much more about this book, other than, i wish i could give it more than 5 stars! Just read it!
on 30 October 2004
The character FitzChivalry is one of the fantasy genres greatest creations. The emotions and feelings he has affect the reader in every way. Each peak and trough of his life seems important. Even in displays of stupidity and selfishness we cant help but feel sorry for him. We can never really feel that much empathy towards him, purley because of how hard things get for him.
So, the second book has a lot to live up to. Can Robin Hobb keep us as attentive as she did in the first? The answer is yes, for the main part. The story follows on well without speeding ahead and leaving the reader behind. The characters are just as complex and alive as always. Yet i personally feel that this is not as good as the other two books in the series. I only say that as one of them has to be, and it's more to do with the turn of unfortunate results in the plot, rather than the writing style etc.
I fully recomend this book to all Hobb and fantasy fans!
on 21 August 2005
Book 2 of the Farseer trilogy continues Fitz's life of trouble and strife, pain and suffering, torment and injustice. It's a great tribute to Robin Hobb's writing and story telling skills that she can make you want to read a tale that's so full of loss and misery. The trick is that her characters are alive, with depth of personality. The villains are irredeemably wicked so that the reader is frustrated with impotence at not being able to get in there and sort them out, give them what they deserve. But the heroes are far from perfect: they have foibles and faults that we can all relate to and forgive, their intentions are good but they make mistakes, misunderstand situations, get their priorities wrong, go off on ego trips - just as most of us would in their situation. Their mistakes often have dire consequences and they have to pay dearly when that happens. Fitz is young and impulsive and he sometimes rails against the constraints his elders place upon him. His rebellious spirit makes it difficult for his mentors and allies to plot a straight course through the political mire. Where there was a single path that led to possible disaster, there are now multiple possibilities. As The Fool foresaw, Fitz generates alternatives.
The characters in this trilogy have invaded my sleep, in more ways than one. The books keep me awake far into the early hours, reading when I should be sleeping and then, when I do eventually turn out the light, the world of the Farseers sidles into my dreams. Stories don't get much more real and powerful than that. I recommend these books to anyone who enjoys fantasy - but with one proviso: don't expect a happy ending.
After a brilliant start in book 1, the story develops with Fitz ever deeper involved in political intrigue beyond his understanding or control. Characters are effectively and sympathetically (or not so sympathetically) developed and I was absolutely hooked as Fitz runs the gamut of poisoning, betrayal and imprisonment while all the time remaining steadfastly loyal to his King. The relationship between Fitz and Nighteyes, his Wit-bonded wolf, becomes ever more natural and comfortable by the page, with each learning so much from the other. A cliche I know, but I really couldn't put these books down when I started them, I was so engrossed in the story.
on 12 March 2016
In this second book of the Farseer Trilogy, Fitz grows up under the continued tutelage of Chade, the King's Assassin, and Burrich, the King's stablemaster, although he and Burrich eventually come to a parting of the ways over Fitz's continued use of the Wit. Fitz's and Molly's relationship changes from childhood friendship to one of love and romance, albeit greatly hindered due to the fact Fitz is of royal blood and Molly is a commoner.
Regal continues his evil plottings to the point, it's very difficult to understand why the powers that be don't simply have him killed. King-in-Waiting, Verity, continues to be hidden away as he uses his "Skill" magic to protect the coastal lands from the Red Ship Raiders. This leaves him very little time to become bonded with his young queen, Kittrecken, from the Mountain Kingdom. I love Kittrecken - she's a class act all the way. She and Fitz form a close alliance which allows him to ever so slightly begin to influence Verity toward his marriage.
In this book, the magical beings referred to as the "Elderlings" come into focus and Verity ultimately leaves Buck Castle to try and locate these people of legend, hoping they will hold to their promise to come and help should they be needed. Unfortunately, Verity's absence and King Shrewd's fading away makes it possible for Regal to maneuver himself into a position of strength and power. There's much darkness toward the end of the book related to Regal's hatred toward Fitz. This was difficult for me to work through and even though I've read this book previously, I actually dreaded wending my way through it all. In this book, Fitz learns his ability to Skill is still there although greatly diminished due to what Galen and his coterie put him through in the previous book.
Robin Hobb's gift in building her stories is literally amazing. Every single page is filled with details that vastly contribute to the storyline. It's almost as though she's telling a story about real happenings. The imagination of some of these authors is a marvel.
on 4 December 2015
It's a bit of a "middle" book but this one is less about training and more about setting the stage for the main conflicts. Not that this doesn't allow Fitz to spend a lot of time sounding like he'd love listening to "the smiths" and "the cure" but it fits a young character - especially one he is a bit self-obsessed. Characters continue to grow such as my favourite Burritch and there are some great new additions mainly in the form of non-human characters and the interesting viewpoints they provide. I did enjoy a lot of the court politics particularly those surrounding who Fitz can and can't court (with Patience providing amazing insight on the subject). I still find the political system rotten (intentional by Hobb) in the sense the protagonists tie themselves in honorable knots and long-term strategies so that the book's villain, Regal has an incredibly easy time of it. He's a good villain to hate.
While there isn't a great deal happening in terms of action the characters are excellent, I particularly like how characters can behave very differently given cirumstances making them much more real than in most books (not just fantasy). A noble man can be ratty if a nerve is hit or they are in pain for instance.
I was planning on reading another author after this one but the ending was such that it felt like the next installment could go in a variety of directions which has me more curious than if I thought I knew what the next book would be about. Hobb is very good at presenting a logical outcome and then tearing it shreds.