on 17 November 2014
I came to this knowing nothing of Robin Hobb's work, apart from that George RR Martin is a fan and that this was the first in a new trilogy. So, firstly, before anyone else makes the mistake I did, this may be the first in a trilogy but it's effectively the seventh in the series - and if you haven't read the first two trilogies (Farseer and Tawny Man), you'll probably spend a lot of time feeling faintly baffled as you're plunged into this world.
You'll also read a string of spoilers for the first six books when you go back to read them - because you will go back to read them. Even with the feeling I didn't quite know what was going on at times, I couldn't put this down. Having since devoured the addictively good original trilogies, I'm already re-reading this to see what I've missed. The characters are beautifully drawn and at times the Six Duchies world seems as real as my own.
Compared to the first six, this story does seem a lot slower - less drama, no grand journeys - although without dragging. And at least one plot twist seems so obvious in advance, even to someone unfamiliar with the world, that's it's almost hard to credit the characters don't work it out. But all in all, if you're new to Robin Hobb, you are in for a huge treat. Just don't start here...
Reviewing one of the giants of the genre is always difficult, if you don’t like the book or even find the slightest negative you can expect to be flamed to a crisp by the fan base. Fortunately I really enjoyed the book, if i had anything negative to say it would be that it was slightly longer than needed, any lesser known author would not have been given the latitude to express the depth of emotion or description and would have been pushed to go for more pace. BUT: that comment cannot detract from what is another exceptional book by Robin Hobb. Of all her books, books i have loved each (except the Soldier son series), this new one feels different, like coming home after years away, finding all your old family and friends a little older and wiser, but still the same deep down.
The whole book (all 640 pages) is a deeply emotional ride, a voyeuristic view into the emotions and diaries of Fitz and his orbiting family and friends, Robin Hobbs talent is telling it in a deeply compelling and non invasive style. I read this emotional roller-coaster of a book over several days, reading long past 1am each night, when i knew i had work the next day, i just could not put the book down. Unlike many fantasy books there are no great battles, no great mission, this is life, life in a tough world full of intrigue, assassins and dark history, all of this breeds paranoia, paranoia at life, family, motives both your own and those of others. Its this depth of writing , character exploration and plot that makes Robin Hobb such an exceptional writer, someone who can write a book that will effect the reader so much that days later the plot and its characters are still spinning around your head and leaves you not only wanting the next book but also to read this one again.
I miss Fitz, Bee and the rest of the family already, a year before the next book seems like an eternity (odd considering its been so long since we last saw or heard from Fitz)
very highly recommended
1. Assassin’s Apprentice (1995)
2. Royal Assassin (1996)
3. Assassin’s Quest (1997)
Words Like Coins (2012)
The Farseer Trilogy: Assassin’s Apprentice / Royal Assassin / Assassin’s Quest (omnibus) (2013)
Royal Assassin / Assassin’s Quest (omnibus) (2013)
1. Ship of Magic (1998)
2. The Mad Ship (1999)
3. Ship of Destiny (2000)
1. Fool’s Errand (2001)
2. The Golden Fool (2002)
3. Fool’s Fate (2003)
The Tawny Man Series Books 2 and 3: Golden Fool / Fool’s Fate (omnibus) (2013)
The Tawny Man Trilogy: Fool’s Errand / Golden Fool / Fool’s Fate (omnibus) (2013)
1. Shaman’s Crossing (2005)
2. Forest Mage (2006)
3. Renegade’s Magic (2007)
The Soldier Son Trilogy Bundle (omnibus) (2012)
Rain Wild Chronicles
1. The Dragon Keeper (2009)
2. Dragon Haven (2010)
3. City of Dragons (2012)
4. Blood of Dragons (2013)
Rain Wilds Chronicles (omnibus) (2014)
Rain Wilds Chronicles
Fitz and the Fool Trilogy
1. Fool’s Assassin (2014)
on 15 October 2014
A good addition to fitz's tale. By no means the best chapter of his story but it's the same character in the same quagmires that I have come to enjoy. At points it does feel a bit slower paced than previous books but I believe it lays a solid foundation for a tale that could easily surpass the previous two trilogies. So while it does bring me into the world it doesn't grip me in the urgency of previous novels. Time shall tell if it's sequels will utilise the potential created by this book.
on 3 February 2015
...How does she do it? Robin Hobb is an exceptional writer, able to create and sustain a world different from our own yet so familiar it's real to us. Fitz's world, the world of the Six Duchies, settles round you like a long-lost favourite sweater. Some reviewers will tell you that not much happens in the first part of the book. I'm not sure which book they were reading then. Hobb has an incredible ability to depict convincing characters, warts and all. Her depth of understanding of human emotion rings true in every instance. In this resumption of Fitz's tale, old and much-loved characters are gently set aside, and new and fascinating ones introduced. Personally, I found the first two-thirds of the book completely absorbing as they depict Molly's decline, Fitz's fears and the arrival and development of Bee. I was enchanted, but I wept more than once.
When the 'action' phase of the book begins (and how much good writing do those poor readers miss who only want the action!), one cares so much about the principal characters that the tension is almost unbearable. Unputtdownable, definitely.
WARNING: If you haven't read the other Farseer Books, do so first. And how I envy you coming to them fresh!
on 15 September 2015
I bought this by accident, thinking I was buying an 'ordinary' historical thriller . Well, that's what comes of skim-reading the blurb, and I am so, so glad that did. I knew immediately that I had joined a party long after everyone else had arrived, and I knew that I should leave Fool's Assassin then and there and read what had gone before so that I knew exactly what was what and who was who. But it was already too late - within the first dozen pages I had to know what happened next, and if that meant I had to flounder about a bit with characters and their histories, then I was perfectly happy to do that. In fact, Robin Hobb's excellent writing made it a pleasure, pushing events forward, but at the same time bringing in enough of the past to answer some of my questions, without feeling as though she's just regurgitating facts and events for the sake of it. Her characters are very, very well written, and I cared very much about what happened to some of them in those last, dramatic pages. I know from reading reviews that book is considered slow (until the end) but for me it was perfect - a gradual unfolding of events, a revealing of characters in their strengths and weaknesses, with a constant threat of danger looming. Of course, now, I want to know Fitz from the beginning, and I want to know the events that have led to his attempted quiet retirement, and I completely understand why some reviewers say that newbies like me should go back now, straight away, and read the earlier books. I would if I could, but unfortunately it's absolutely essential that I first read the next in this series.
on 31 August 2015
Almost 20 years ago I read *Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy (long before my blogging days began!) and my love of this fantasy world led me on to read each trilogy that was published ... The Liveship Traders Trilogy, The Tawny Man Trilogy and The Rain Wild Chronicles. I started (but couldn't get into) The Forest Mage Trilogy.
You can imagine how excited I was to see on Netgalley a new trilogy that takes Fitz forward!
Fool's Assassin follows on from The Farseer Trilogy and I would suggest you start with the first book Assassin's Apprentice (£2.99 on Kindle at the time of writing my review). There is backstory in Fitz and the Fool but in my opinion, you really need to experience this world from the beginning.
I found it really easy to get back into the story. I could remember so much (which tells you the impact it had on me all those years ago! especially when you consider how many books I've read since then). I even felt afresh my grief for Nighteyes and Burrich.
The majority of the story is set in the estate Withywoods with forays into Oaksbywater and Buckkeep Castle. Fitz is now known as Holder Tom Badgerlock and is living life peacefully with Molly and visits from the children. Chade is still skilling to Fitz and he is copying and deciphering scrolls but that's where his involvement ends (despite Chade wanting him back at court). There are changes with moving forward and adopting other Duchies ways of living and foods/clothes.
We begin at Winterfest and the love between Molly and Fitz is very clear. Rather than going to his messenger, he doesn't want to let Molly down by leaving her alone in welcoming their guests and not being there for the first dance.
It's also clear the love he still has for the Fool, even though he feels abandoned.
A ripple comes into their life with the birth of Bee. It didn't take me long to have that lightbulb moment! I loved the relationship between Fitz and Bee.
The pace changes once Fitz is pulled back into court intrigue. He has been tasked with protecting Shun and FitzVigilant. Shun is ostensibly his cousin and FitzVigilant has gone to the estate to tutor Bee and the estate children. The first lesson is very poignant - so much injustice towards Bee.
The world building has already been done in the first trilogy and this carries through (as do the characters and my expectations from what I already knew about them). There is still so much they need to discover (from the Elderlings) I think there are going to be some surprises as the trilogy progresses.
Ending at just before Winterfest, there has been losses and a discovery along the way. I think Fool's Quest is going to be faster paced as this story has set the foundation ready for Fitz to go on his quest.
It was just amazing being back in this world. I felt as if this world was my own and as I was reading, that this was my life.
Highly recommended for fantasy readers.
*As a side note, before I read The Farseers Trilogy I loved The Windsinger Series not realising that Megan Lindholm was Robin Hobb.
I would like to thank the publishers for approval via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
on 7 March 2016
A few years ago, I discovered Robin Hobb's books and read every single book I could get my hands on. The Farseer Trilogy and The Tawny Man Trilogy were by far and away my favorite of her books. Fitz and The Fool were an amazing pair - bonded as something more than friends, it was difficult to let them go once the last book had been written. Plus, there was always the question - was the Fool a man or a woman? Obviously, since he wasn't exactly human, he was neither. So, the better question might be - "Was the Fool the equivalent of what is known as a human male or human woman" as it related to his own race?"
The series ended and Ms. Hobb apparently never saw fit to answer the question. Then, lo and behold, Robin Hobb surprises her fans by bringing back Fitz and the Fool in this latest series - "Fitz and the Fool Trilogy." So much time had gone by that I didn't rush to buy the first book. I had moved on to historical romance novels and was not as interested in Fitz and the Fool as I had been at one time in my life. Then, I finally decided to buy this book and read it. Why in the world I didn't read it when it first came out boggles my mind. I loved it. I was riveted. At the end of the day, I was glad I had waited because now I can immediately jump into Book #2 in this series. Thank you Ms. Hobb for giving your fans more of these two fabulous characters. Plus, we have a new character - a little girl named Bee.
Latest novel from fantasy writer Robin Hobb. And a return to Fitz, lead character from two of her earlier trilogies. Who now starts another one.
There are a lot of references in here to past events, but not really enough exposition for new readers. So this is not a good jumping on point. Start with Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1).
If you're familiar with the writer's work, then read on.
This volume runs for six hundred and thirty pages. It has a prologue, thirty two chapters. Then an epilogue. And being the start of a trilogy means it ends with lots left hanging.
Fitz and Molly are happily married and have been living quietly at a country estate for years. They're growing old quite nicely together. Fitz hasn't seen the Fool in a long time.
But then a messenger tries to get a message to him, but is prevented from doing so. What was the message?
Their domestic idyll can't last forever, as Fitz's life is about to change...
This is a tricky book to review without spoilers. It's very clever in the writing as well. Because whilst little happens for a lot of the early pages, the quality of the prose really draws you in and keeps the pages turning very nicely. There are some quite beautiful and poignant moments involving Fitz and Molly and Chade that really emphasise the fact that we can't stop time from passing.
But the writer does know exactly what they're doing. Because big plot developments do await.
The narrative is actually split, viewpoint character wise, from a certain point in the book on. Both narrators are using first person past tense. There is nothing to say when the change between them occurs. But once you realise this is going to be the pattern you quickly get used to it.
And the writing will definitely have an impact on you as a result of at least one plot development also.
Things steadily escalate in Fitz's life as it goes on. And by the end you see exactly what's going on. And where the book has been headed all along. Which was clearly something the writer knew from the start. The last few pages will leave you reeling. And desperate to know what will happen next.
A great start to a new series from a master fantasy writer who is once again at the top of their game. Roll on book two.
on 11 October 2014
Fool’s Assassin is the first in Robin Hobb’s latest trilogy, and picks up the story of her erstwhile protagonist, FitzChivalry Farseer, a good decade (or more) after the end of the Tawny Man triology when we left him happily reconciling with Molly.
I should preface this whole post with the admission that I love Robin Hobbs book, so needless to say I was excited when I saw she had a new one out, if a little worried about picking up with Fitz in his old age after a relatively happy ending last time we saw him. Luckily for the plot, Fitz isn’t really old – he maintains the appearance and health of a man in his mid thirties. There was also a rather wild suspension of disbelief needed in order to get on board with the very age inappropriate things that happened to Fitz and Molly at the beginning. Without giving too much away, what I can say is: human biological capability is massively disregarded.
So he may not be old in appearance but Fitz is just as obsessed with his age, as much an over-thinker and as melancholic as ever. But I like this. I like that Hobb creates a character that you can get frustrated with. And I like that despite his protestations to the contrary we know, and we know that Fitz really knows, that he is still really the assassin he was bred to be. I like that he is still a bit crap at talking to people, or realising that anyone cares about him. It fits into the kind of person we have been told he is, across 20 years of Hobb’s writing.
I have had my frustrations with Fitz in the past: his ongoing angst about being ‘past it’ in the Tawny Man books in particular annoyed me. And there is still some of this inclination to agonise over his own ordinariness. But in this book, and for the first time, I realised that Fitz is obsessed with trying to be less than he is because he so desperately wants to be less than he his. He wants to be ordinary. Unfortunately, this is not possible: either for Fitz, or for the second narrator who appears halfway through.
This novel is much more location based than most of Hobb’s others. Almost everything takes place within the confines of Withywoods manor, and even when the action goes further afield it is generally only to the local village. This is much more a book about emotion and family – both that which we are born to and that which we choose.
The locational confines are perfectly suited to the second key narrator who joins the book about half way through. She is a child, and an unusually small one at that, and the world of the book being small, low and full or nooks and crannies perfectly mirrors both her visual perspective of the world, and her childlike ability to comprehend it.
It’s a very character driven novel. There is very little I could describe as ‘action’ in the book. In fact, considering it’s huge length compared to how little actually happens, I am not sure why I found it so engrossing, and such a page turner. There were times when I felt the slow moving pace should have annoyed me, but I couldn’t find it in me to be bored. There is definitely a bit of over labouring the point. Luckily, I had few negative thoughts, probably because Hobb’s brilliant writing can make the most boring passage readable.
The story itself, and the big reveal (if there was meant to be one) is obvious from very early on. Although only to us: Fitz is oblivious (despite being a trained assassin!).
This is definitely a novel for the fans. And it was a delight to see Hobb obviously relishing and savouring her long loved characters. The structure of the story meant that nothing became resolved, and as an independent novel there was no culmination or satisfaction at the end. But as the first chapter in the next story about Fitz, it was a great introduction. I’m looking forward to the next one, which will hopefully not take too long to appear.
The latest Robin Hobb story and one that I absolutely loved, especially after feeling a bit disappointed with other recent releases from the author. As with Robin’s other Fool books, it has great storytelling, a familiar feel for fans and for me was a real pleasure to dive back into her familiar world that has given me so much pleasure over the years.
Add to this great characters, wonderful prose and a mystery or two to uncover and I was hooked from start to finish. If you haven’t read any of her various Fool books then please do, they are so much fun and for me a great series to introduce young readers to on their journey into adult fiction. Magical.