A glorious classic fantasy combining the magic of Ursula Le Guin's The Wizard of Earthsea with the epic mastery of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But ...
A glorious classic fantasy combining the magic of Ursula Le Guin's The Wizard of Earthsea with the epic mastery of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility. So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.
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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 his ward 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 life 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 an extremely difficult impulse to deny. 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 my friends.
Jan 2, 2008
A very well-woven novel
I find it interesting that the synopsis does not mention the Apprentice. I would probably give this 4.5 stars. This is an emotion-filled, complex story about a boy thrust into a world of intrigue, betrayal, fierce loyalties, honor, war, love, loneliness, and just about everything else life can offer. And the magic is that it all holds together so well. Considering the story covers such a relatively long period of time in a child's life, and travels across two kingdoms, Hobb really does an amazing job of keeping the many disparate elements of her tale knit closely together and interesting. I am eagerly into the second book now, and i find it hard to do anything else but seek out what comes next.
Sep 19, 2007
A friend handed me the first in this series and I couldn't put it down. I ended up reading the rest in the series. Well written with exciting story. Highly recommended for those who like fantasy fiction.
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