Sunday, August 10, 2014

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

★★★★★ 
Fitz is the bastard son of the beloved king in waiting. Fitz is quickly cast aside and given to the stable master to raise. Preparing for the future, the king decides to have Fitz trained as an assassin and tested for a magical ability passed through the bloodline. With a new threat to the kingdom and power plays constantly in motion, Fitz has numerous opportunities to implement his new skills but he soon ends up becoming a target himself. This is the first book in the Farseer trilogy.

Assassin's Apprentice is a memorable fantasy novel with rich descriptions. It has an interesting narration where at the beginning of each chapter there is the sense of a much older Fitz relaying the story before quickly settling into the younger perspective. The story unfolds gradually through interlaced storlines that follow Fitz from childhood through adolescence and into young adulthood. It has an episodic quality that lends itself to epic high fantasy.

The story has a cast of noteworthy characters with great characterization and interesting backstories. I liked how the various mentor relationships were formed and tested throughout the story. Fitz's assassin and magic training were intriguing and had engaging storylines where each mission tests his loyalty and resolve. I liked that Fitz struggled with his endeavors and that there was a sense of growth as well as setbacks throughout the story.

The descriptions are rich and vivid creating an immersive reading experience. It has great world building with a diverse range of cultures, societal structures, politics, and locations. The different magic systems were portrayed wonderfully and allowed for further characterization. The first magic system was telepathy with animals and explored the mental bond formed. I adored the animal personifications especially because it remained subtle characterization rather than full blown anthropomorphism. The second magic system was a mysterious ability accessible by a limited group of people of royal descent that had interesting consequences.

The end of the book felt a bit slow because a new location and culture were introduced. However it makes up for it with a clever deadly ploy that ties up loose ends while setting the foundation for the next book. Overall, I enjoyed reading Assassin's Apprentice and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

[Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads]

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