98 points, 5 STARS!
Fitz was six when he showed up at an outpost and his grandfather claiming he was the bastard son of Chivalry Farseer, the royal heir. No one could deny that he looked like Chivalry’s son, and so he came to live with with the royal family. But King Shrewd has a use for Fitz, he is to become the royal assassin and he must train with a mysterious old man. And Fitz has a gift, not just for the Skill, but for Wit as well, being able to talk to, and bond to, animals.
“It doesn’t have to be that bad,’ Chade said quietly. ‘Most prisons are of our own making. A man makes his own freedom, too.”
The Farseer trilogy, and all of Robin Hobb’s works, is one of those things that I’ve had on my radar for a while because I knew I would like it. It just took me a while to work my way up to reading it because I knew don’t seem to like doing things I know I’m going to like – like reading good things. Also I knew it would hurt me.
Well, Assassin’s Apprentice hurt me.
But, in good ways (for me, not for Fitz). I loved reading this book. Assassin’s Apprentice is the start to a masterpiece. It is impressive how deeply I fell in love with Fitz just within the first chapter alone. The rest of the book just cemented my love for my lonliboi. The end existed to hurt me, but the story getting there was just enthralling. Even when “nothing” was happening, I was completely engaged in the story and didn’t want to stop reading. I suspect that I would actually get a lot more out of a reread, now that I know the story, but that isn’t going to happen for a long time indeed.
Assassin’s Apprentice chronicles FitzChivalry Farseer growing from a small child into a very young man. He is so young, and he comes into the story with nothing – not even a name. They call him boy, and then Fitz (which isn’t much of a name at all – it means bastard). Through the book he struggles. He struggles to be accepted, he struggles with loneliness, he struggles to be approved by the people in his life he wants to appease. He has mentors and teachers and pseudo-parents, but it hardly matters to Fitz if he thinks he fails everyone because he isn’t good enough. His plight makes me cry. He is always so alone and even the people who care about him don’t stick with him when things get hard. The people who don’t care about him just use him. They’ll use him all up if they can. It’s so sad.
The world introduced in Assassin’s Apprentice is very small, but very important. The world is small because Fitz is small, young. We see the entire story through the eyes of Fitz (which is great because I love single POV books), which means that the only parts of the world we can see are what Fitz himself can see. And since he is so young, that means everything is through the lens of a child. It works so well to be able to introduce more and more of the world slowly over time, instead of in large infodumps. I love it.
But even being a child can’t protect Fitz from the major happenings of the world. There is a danger happening, a danger coming. One that no one really knows how to combat. And there are so many hints that more is to come, that worse things are to come. The danger is inherent, and it is terrifying because no one knows what is happening. They can’t seem to stop it.
Assassin’s Apprentice is exactly what I wanted out of an epic fantasy. Yes there is adventure and danger, but mostly there are people. This is very character-driven in all of the best ways. Which is why it hurts so much. I get attached to people, and want only good things to happen – when bad things happen I get hurt, too. Maybe you can call Assassin’s Apprentice slow, and it is. Fitz spends a lot of time just learning things. But it isn’t about the end game, it is about the journey Fitz takes and how much crap he can handle.
I wouldn’t want it any other way.