This first book of a trilogy (the first of a number of trilogies and other books Hobb has written) was recommended recently and I’m so glad I paid attention!
I spent much of our holidays absorbed in all three books – Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest. They follow the life of Fitz, a bastard born to King-in-Waiting Chivalry in the realm of the Six Duchies. The fantasy world Robb has created essentially echoes the times of Kings, ladies, lords, knights, merchants, and beggars. It is a wonderfully detailed world and society with enough echoes of ‘old England’ to sound familiar, yet enough differences to make you concentrate to figure out what is really going on.
Told by Fitz over 10-15 years, they chronicle his training to be the King Shrewd’s Assassin, as well as giving a history of the slow decline of the kingdom as invaders constantly threaten the safety of the realm and internal power struggles go on between the king’s sons. Will the kingdom survive? Who is the true king?
There is a level of mystery as you are slowly introduced to the idea of the Skill, a mind reading ability mostly held by nobility. The reader is also made aware of another ability, the Wit, where people can bond to and communicate with animals: does Fitz have it, and is it really the problem others seem to think it is?
I really enjoyed this series. Husband will attest that my nose was firmly planted in these three books for 2 weeks solid. In some ways, they could be compared to an adult version of Ranger’s Apprentice. As they have no bad language, romantic interactions are only generally alluded to, and the violence was not excessive, I was happy for Mr 13 to give them a try. They failed to grab his interest at this stage – they probably required too much concentration – but I think in time he could enjoy them and I suspect that teenagers who want to put the effort in would like them. I am very keen to move on to Robb’s other books in future holidays!