80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
Welcome to the Six Duchies...,
This review is from: Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy - Book 1): 1/3 (Paperback)
Friendly fellow fantasy fan warning: buy this book and you'll be committing yourself to purchasing not only the further two books in this trilogy, but very likely every other book in all four trilogies that have thus far been written by Robin Hobb. The characterisation, prose and plots in all of her novels are of such a high standard that it's impossible to describe how engrossing they can be until you've sampled them for yourself. Here's a list of those trilogies, just so you know what you'll be letting yourself in for...
The Farseer trilogy- Assassin's Apprentice / Royal Assassin / Assassin's Quest
The Liveship Traders trilogy- Ship of Magic / Mad Ship / Ship of Destiny
The Tawny Man trilogy- Fool's Errand / The Golden Fool / Fool's Fate
The Soldier Son trilogy- Shaman's Crossing / Forest Mage / Renegade's Magic
The first three trilogies are set in the same world, while the fourth is a stand-alone series set in a different world. Although the Liveship Traders trilogy can be read independently, as it concentrates on a different set of characters, I would still recommend reading the trilogies in order, as they each subtly tie-in with one another and build a larger story-arc in the saga of this world as events transpire. The most recently published fourth trilogy is set in a completely different world, but is perhaps best accessible to die-hard Hobb fans, as it isn't quite in the same league as her previous trilogies.
For me Assassin's Apprentice was easily the best debut from any author I'd ever read in any genre at the time and remains one of my all-time favourites. The world Hobb has crafted here is so detailed and authentic, the characters so vivid and the story so mesmerising that you'll realise you're hooked after only the first two chapters. It tells the story of a nameless boy who comes to live in Buckeep Castle under the watchful eye of stable master Burrich, who in turn bestows upon him the enigmatic name of Fitz. Very soon Fitz finds himself in the service of ageing King Shrewd and embroiled within court intrigue and various plays for power that are rife among the royal family. The backdrop to this domestic plotting is the invasion of the Six Duchies by a race known as the Outislanders whose method of conquest is as horrific as it is persuasive.
If it sounds in the least bit derivative so far then rest assured it's absolutely anything but! The outline may even sound like standard fantasy fare, but Hobb's storytelling abilities elevate Assassin's Apprentice far above any similar fantasy tale with familiar themes. By the end of this first story in the Farseer trilogy you'll be completely immersed in Fitz's bittersweet story and the conflicted kingdom of the Six Duchies, so much so that the impulse to read the whole of this trilogy in one sitting will be extremely difficult to resist. Magical is a term that's very often over-used to describe fantasy stories, but for Assassin's Apprentice there's no more accurate description. Enjoy.