Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Let me start off by saying that I read "Assassin's Apprentice" about a year ago, then read the other two books back to back this week. Now I shall begin my SPOILER-FILLED REVIEW.
I remember finding it kind of difficult to get totally into "Assassin's Quest," but that may be because I had a lot going in my life at the time. It was an enjoyable book--enjoyed it enough to read the next book--I recommend it. Read too long ago to remember many points of the plot, so neither can I remember too many complaints. One thing I do not understand is how they let coteries disappear. It takes years to develop a strong coterie, which is why you need one on retainer even in times of peace. You cannot foretell a war years before it begins.
As I was reading "Royal Assassin," I wondered why I didn't remember enjoying the first book this much. But I definitely have complaints. One of my pet peeves is the idiocy of character's actions to further the plot. After Regal's full blown treason why was he left to plot and scheme more? Verity or Shrewd could have changed his desires with the Skill, as Fitz does later. He could have been basically on house arrest, with Shrewd's guards with him at all times. He could even have been imprisoned or killed. But no preventative measures were taken, and it was ridiculous. "Favorite son" or not, I don't think someone named Shrewd would be that dim-witted, and I don't think Chivalry is stupid enough to think Regal won't cause anymore problems. Fitz also seemed to have no skills as an assassin when in "Assassin's Apprentice" I thought he had gotten pretty good at it with his training. In "Royal Assassin" he cannot seem to get anything right.
Now that we are to "Assassin's Quest" I will spout my harshest criticisms. It seems foolish of Verity to send himself out to the mountains, considering he is rather important. And his wife is threatened. And his father. And his kingdom. And his beloved nephew. And his throne. "Since Star Trek: The Next Generation" we have known to not send important characters on the away team. Fitz:Chivalry::Riker:Picard. Again, Fitz seems kind of incompetent in the training in several points. It is rather cliche that Fitz is captured at least twice, but was not "killed on sight." Considering he came back from the dead once and had escaped at least once, I would think the logical thing would be to kill him instantly. He never asked the Old Bloods for help, and I was hoping for a "Jumanji" scene at some point. I was also anticipating dragons, the best things to come out of fantasy in my opinion, because there is one on the cover. They were barely in it though, which was a letdown--like Yoshi in Mario 64. Could a bird not get a message to someone? Fitz did not communicate a lot of important information, which came back to haunt him, though finally he DID tell the whole story. He also lacked the self control to stop thinking about his (temporarily) loved ones though it put him in danger. All this is fairly forgivable, but I do not think I can find it within myself to forgive the ending. Basically Fitz leaves EVERYONE he knows behind, and they think he is dead. Why could he not live outside the palace, with his wolf, as a regular man, but still keep in touch with people in Buckkeep? Burrich--and I think Patience--feel as though their son has died, and Burrich carries much guilt. How can abandon his child? How can Burrich sort of marry his daughter-in-law? It was a rather uneventful ending. So much build up, then people bleed on dragons, and the world is saved. Then our hero becomes rather unlikable in my opinion, abandoning and hurting people he loved. Also, why didn't the Fool come back to visit since he loved Fitz so much? All the characters that were fleshed out enough to make the reader care about suddenly don't seem to care for each other. Fitz has a child with Molly as well as being biologically the father of Kittrecken's child, not to mention his cousin/uncle/? of some sort (I think? I am not familiar with the numbering and 'removed' system of family trees), so how could he leave them? Was it because he gave some of his memories to the dragon that he no longer cared? He seemed to have decided he wanted to leave his old life entirely behind before that occurred...
How would I end it, you ask?
After "the pack" journeys about the mountains, they would find Verity. Perhaps he would be too weak to finish what he had started, leaving Fitz, the hero, the save the day. Perhaps it would combine Wit/Skill/Assassin skills (that he would be competent at again). Whatever "it" is, it would be a bit more action packed than chiseling stone for a couple of days (I am not an author; don't expect me to come up with too many great ideas). Perhaps all of them could ride the dragons back to Buckkeep, but not quite live happily ever after. Verity could live, but perhaps be a middle-aged man in an old-man's body (as Fitz seems to be), or lose his Skill. Molly could not want to marry Fitz anymore, but they could still both be in Nettle's life--Molly could even open her chandlery and be self-sufficient, and they could both find spouses they loved. Fitz could have his simple life of coming home to a wife and child and wolf. Burrich could get that coursing foal back, and start rebuilding his stables, and take care of his semi-grandchild, too, of course--as would Patience. Kettle could come back and be a REAL Skill teacher. Starling could have her song. Fool could go back to being the Fool, or a toymaker, whatever he wanted, just as Fitz could be free to do live his own life with Nighteyes, Regal being altered by the Skill was an okay end to him, and I was wondering where that weasel had gone...Perhaps this is too corny for some, but I like happy endings without cheese.
What did I like about the books, you ask?
It had some of the fantasy elements that are inherently enjoyable: castles, royalty, magic, swords, poisons, talking animals, dragons-ish, etc. I think the writing was pretty excellent, because in battle scenes I felt so much empathy for the people losing everything from the Raiders. I cringed while Fitz was being beaten to death. Much empathy came out of me while reading, I cried for many pages toward the end of "Assassin's Quest" because Verity, not to mention Kettle, was going to be gone, Fitz lost Molly (and everyone else, but that was his decision). At least Kettle finally found peace. I came to know and care about these people over the many hours I read about them, which is meant to be the highest compliment to the author. The plot was also enjoyable (except for my complaints about the ending), and I was entertained for the hours it took me to read them. What more do you need from a trilogy? Perhaps a Peter Jackson movie...
These books got a 4/5 from me, and they were able to drag me away from the computer and TV for several days--not an easy feat.
Question: Does Fitz begin writing and narrating "Assassin's Apprentice" shortly after the end of "Assassin's Quest"? He mentions knuckled hands as well as ruining Fedwrens paper. Couldn't his knuckles be large because his body has taken so much damage? Wouldn't Fedwren be dead when Fitz is old? And why would his blank paper still be in use? So there is still time for him to go back to Burrich & Co. and renew my faith in him.
I ordered the Liveship Traders Trilogy today, and cannot wait to finish them and order The Tawny Man trilogy, continuing Fitz's story.
Submitted by Wiley Wapiti
I originally read the first book (Assasin's Apprentice) 10+ years ago and I do not believe the library had the sequel so I stopped after this book. I happened to be at the library a couple months ago with my children and stumbled upon it again and re-read this book and have since finished the trilogy and am onto the Tawny Man trilogy now. I had forgotten what a great read this is - if you are a first time reader of this book or anything by Robin Hobb, please do not stop with this book, roll on through the sequels and explore the other trilogies. I find this a very entertaining Author as I find her writing very adventurous and enveloping where I can literally feel as if I am seeing the story unfold. I read many different genres of books and I have few authors that I enjoy as much as I currently do Robin Hobb. The characters, the plot - I find it a smooth transition between one book and the next.
Submitted by Anonymous
This is a great trilogy; somewhat sad, but still great. The imaginative detail to the kingdom begins with seemingly ordinary surroundings and situations which cement the realism. Soon it progresses to very interesting fantasy, but then keeps going, adding layer upon layer of fascinating detail which continues right through the fantastic third book.
The ending was a perfect summary and conclusion for this story. Lots of great series do not end "happily" - the characters all pay a price by the end of The Lord of the Rings, and the Ender series is similar in this respect. Sometimes it's the less than expected or tragic endings that capture our attention and imagination the most.
Submitted by Anonymous
I was glued to the books in this trilogy hours on end for many days during the summer. It wasn't until the very end that I was reading simply to finish the final book of the trilogy. The writing style and character development was astounding in this book, but I was so disappointed in the end. The books first give off the impression of a young boy's hardships he must fight through to finally get back to his loves and live the life he wanted to live, but at the end you simply have a man who had a terrible life that leaves him living as a hermit thought to be dead by most. Again, I fully enjoyed most of my read, and I will definitely check out the next trilogy!
Submitted by Anonymous
*This contains spoilers, as it is mostly a commentary on the ending*
*Seriously SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER do not read if you haven't finished the series*
Yes, the ending was depressing. That doesn't make it bad. It fits with the series; much of the trilogy, especially Book 2, was centered on making Fitz realize what it truly means to be a 'King's Man.' It means giving your life, not your death, to the cause. Rather than becoming a martyr, trading his life for glory, Fitz sacrificed everything he loved and dreamed of. He gets no recognition, no personal gain, nothing but the knowledge that he served his King faithfully and the people are safe. He was never set up for a happy ending; had he simply killed Regal as he wished to in Book 2, he could have ended up with Molly, seen his Queen on the throne, and probably aided Verity sooner. Instead, he simply did his duty. Why is everyone surprised at the ending? Just because in other works the hero finds a way to avoid the depressing prophecies while fulfilling the heroic ones doesn't mean that is necessarily going to happen all the time. The Fool states clearly in Assassin's Quest that the Catalyst dreams of hearth and family, but is not fated to enjoy them. He simply gets to live with the knowledge that they are safe and happy...without him.