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The Farseer Trilogy #1

Assassin's Apprentice

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alternate cover for ISBN 0006480098

Fitz is a royal bastard, cast out into the world with only his magical link with animals for solace and companionship.
But when Fitz is adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and learn a new life: weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly. Meanwhile, raiders ravage the coasts, leaving the people Forged and soulless. As Fitz grows towards manhood, he will have to face his first terrifying mission, a task that poses as much a risk to himself as it does to his target: Fitz is a threat to the throne… but he may also be the key to the future of the kingdom.

Cover illustration by John Howe

460 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published May 1, 1995

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About the author

Robin Hobb

294 books99k followers
** I am shocked to find that some people think a 2 star 'I liked it' rating is a bad rating. What? I liked it. I LIKED it! That means I read the whole thing, to the last page, in spite of my life raining comets on me. It's a good book that survives the reading process with me. If a book is so-so, it ends up under the bed somewhere, or maybe under a stinky judo bag in the back of the van. So a 2 star from me means,yes, I liked the book, and I'd loan it to a friend and it went everywhere in my jacket pocket or purse until I finished it. A 3 star means that I've ignored friends to finish it and my sink is full of dirty dishes. A 4 star means I'm probably in trouble with my editor for missing a deadline because I was reading this book. But I want you to know . . . I don't finish books I don't like. There's too many good ones out there waiting to be found.

Robin Hobb is the author of three well-received fantasy trilogies: The Farseer Trilogy (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin’s Quest), The Liveship Traders Trilogy (Ship of Magic, Mad Ship and Ship of Destiny) and the Tawny Man Trilogy (Fool’s Errand, Golden Fool, and Fool’s Fate) Her current work in progress is entitled Shaman’s Crossing. Robin Hobb lives and works in Tacoma, Washington, and has been a professional writer for over 30 years.

In addition to writing, her interests include gardening, mushrooming, and beachcombing. She and her husband Fred have three grown children and one teenager, and three grand-children.

She also writes as Megan Lindholm, and works under that name have been finalists for the Hugo award, the Nebula Award, and the Endeavor award. She has twice won an Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Award.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 15,585 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51.7k followers
June 16, 2023
I haven't read a lot of fantasy in the last decade, so the fact I've read 12 of Robin Hobb's books in the last 5 years says a lot about how much I enjoy reading her work. The adventures of Fitz through three trilogies account for a big chunk of that reading.

Robin Hobb can write a first person story with rare skill. She shows you a world though Fitz's eyes and makes it matter, makes it vital. Some elements of Hobb's fantasy are fairly old school, but written with a modern style and a literary skill that one almost never used to see in fantasy and is still hard to find in the genre.

What Hobb does best, quite possibly better than every other fantasy writer, is build, develop, and breathe life into relationships. She writes great characters that you can believe in, but it's in interactions that they truly shine. The friendship between Fitz and the Fool is the heart of the two trilogies, and grows at a slow but steady pace through the books.

The rigid social structure and its constraints generate a lot of frustration for Fitz (and by extension for the readers). This drives much of the tension and plot. Some readers may find it too frustrating and may long for Fitz to break free of it, to drive his message home etc... but for me it was perfectly pitched for maximum effect.

I won't address the plot ... but it's good, and the mysterious attackers are chilling and intriguing. In short - go read this classic!

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Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 258 books409k followers
October 4, 2021
It took me three tries to read this excellent fantasy. I had to be in the right frame of mind, because I found it by no means a page-turner until I was about halfway through. Hobb has crafted a believable, intricate fantasy world in all its gritty, mundane, medieval detail, so you can smell the stables and taste the gruel along with experiencing the wonders of magic and courtly skulduggery. It is an enormously comprehensive autobiography of one Fitz, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry of the Six Duchies, from Fitz's earliest memories to his youth as an apprentice to the king's assassin.

If Charles Dickens wrote a fantasy novel, it might read something like this: Great Expectations with swords and sorcery. This is a compliment, in that the characters are all lovingly crafted, the lives feel real and important, and the writing is first-rate. It is also a 'heads up' to readers, in that the story is a slow burn, the prose dense and descriptive with paragraphs that often run longer than a page, the narrator in no hurry to get to his later, more active years as a working assassin. If you are looking for a fast read with nonstop action, this is probably not your book. If, however, you are looking to immerse yourself in a new world and are willing to live there at the same pace as the characters who are going about their lives, then this is a fascinating literary escape, and you will certainly make new friends (and new enemies) in Hobb's story!
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.5k followers
January 6, 2020
(3.5) I finally got around to reading this popular Fantasy series that has been on my TBR for literally forever... and I'm pretty underwhelmed.

I liked Hobb's writing, I enjoyed the world and magic system but this has to be the most chill, less action-driven book about an assassin's education ever.

Things did end up picking up a bit in the last 100 pages and I am planning on reading the whole trilogy to give it a proper shot. It was... kinda relaxing I guess? lol
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46.1k followers
September 8, 2022
My journey into The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb has finally begun and it’s off to a great start.

You can skip the next paragraph if you want to go straight to the review, this is just a long introduction that I need to make before writing my review.

It’s not an overstatement to say that The Realm of the Elderlings is hands down my biggest gamble of all time in the history of book buying; I bought it without using my brain, after all. You may call me shallow, my interest in this series sparked due to the reason that the UK paperbacks cover are so damn pretty. This reason alone, of course, shouldn’t be enough to justify spending tons of money on an author or series that you never tried yet; but it does, my friend. When Assassin’s Apprentice came to my doorstep in the middle of my dilemma on my birthday last year (thank you, Haifa), my decision was made. Looking at how pretty the book in real life, I immediately bought all the available—excluding Assassin’s Fate—UK paperbacks of the entire series for a whopping price of $200. This is the reason why I always say to both authors and book publishers that book covers do matter a LOT in capturing reader’s attention; especially on books that readers haven’t heard of or try yet.

Obviously, I can’t be sure yet if my ridiculous gamble will pay off or not until I reach the end. However, for now, I can say that this is a wonderful start to one of the biggest fantasy series of our time, and I hope it will remain that way until the end of the journey.

Assassin’s Apprentice is the first book in the Farseer Trilogy, the first series out of five that encompassed Robin Hobb’s The Realm of the Elderlings series. There are plenty of opinion on how slow this trilogy is and you know what? I can’t disagree with them. Not only because it’s a foundational book, it’s really a slow burn mostly due to how dense the pages and how scarce the dialogues are; readers just have to deal with spending most of their time within Fitz’s head. I am a huge fan of slow-paced books but even with that fact, I still think this is, in fact, the slowest start to a series I’ve ever read; sometimes even draggy. However, this doesn’t change my opinion that as a foundational start, the book does its job wonderfully.

Picture: Assassin’s Apprentice by Dagmara Matuszak

The main character, FitzChivalry Farseer is a six years old bastard who’s learning to be an Assassin while at the same time living a harsh life of being hated by practically everyone just because of his birthright. Hobb’s characterizations are simply terrific. Although we see things only from Fitz perspective in 1st person POV, all the side character’s personality were still well established; there are plenty of characters for readers to love and hate. Tons of people have said that all of Hobb’s books—including this one—are super depressing and exhausting to read, I can't say for the other books yet but regarding the first book, I’ll have to disagree with this notion. Yes, Fitz is living a harsh life for sure, but I found his struggle and perseverance in his adolescence here to be something I enjoyed reading. This is mostly due to the reason that Fitz has a strong affinity with animals, and the friendship between human and animals—especially dogs—are something I will never get enough of.

“Men cannot grieve as dogs do. But they grieve for many years.”

Great characterizations aside, the two magic systems—Skills and Wit—are very simple in concept and yet it fits Fitz (see what I did there?) storyline and the world really well; I can't wait to read more of the usage of these two magic systems in the future installments. Hobb’s world-building is also highly detailed and vibrant. Reading the book immersed me deeply if I was really there. After all that has been said and done, the main factor of the book that worked exceptionally well for me was Hobb’s prose. It’s simple, beautiful, and was just a pure delight for me to read. Hobb has a way of structuring her words and sentences into something profoundly memorable, and this is only the first book of her huge series too!

“All events, no matter how earthshaking or bizarre, are diluted within moments of their occurrence by the continuance of the necessary routines of day-to-day living.”

Overall, Assassin’s Apprentice is a great start to a series. The pacing can be better but considering that this is a foundational book to an overall gigantic series, let’s just say that I’m impressed and will continue immediately to the sequels, at the same time hoping the next books will get even better than this.

Picture: Assassin's Apprentice by Marc Simonetti

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,960 followers
November 16, 2018
Reread this AGAIN because I am going to read all of the books up to date that are out!!! Hmmm.. guess I should show y'all my cool bookshelf of the books and some of my dragon figurines. Ah, maybe later 😘 Okay, well here it is...

These were the lessons in my assassin's primer. And more. Sleight of hand and the art of moving stealthily. Where to strike a man to render him unconscious. Where to strike a man so that he dies without crying out. Where to stab a man so that he dies without too much blood welling out. I learned it all rapidly and well, thriving under Chade's approval of my quick mind.

If your looking for a big ole bloody and everything goes book, this is not it. This is just a great story about a boy that was born to not knowing the love of a mother or father. But he still turned out to be a good person, even if he was an assassin.

Fitz is a wonderful character even though he went through a lot as a child. He was brought to the royal guard at 6 years-old by his grandfather telling them he was done with him and it was time for Prince Chivalry to take care of his own son. As you can read on the blurb, Fitz wasn't born the proper way.

But Fitz was allowed to stay with the stable master, Burrich, whom I loved very much. He was so kind to the horses, dogs, and hawks that belonged to the Prince and he was very kind to Fitz. Although, there is one part with someone named Nosy that I thought he didn't something bad to and it turns out he didn't so I forgive him. Those of you that have read the book know what I mean.

Fitz has the ability to get inside an animals mind. I call it mind melding and they can see through each others eyes and communicate. They call this the Will in the book. But Fitz also learns how to use the Skill which is a form of telepathy <--- I think that's the word I'm looking for.

Fitz father, Prince Chivalry never once met him. He left with his wife to go into exile because of the boy and he stepped down from being next in line to be the King. I didn't understand this part too good but that was how I saw it.

At one point when Fitz is a little older, I think around 10, his other grandfather who was King Shrewd decided to start getting him trained as an assassin. Burrich was hoping that he would keep being ignored but that wasn't so. Prince Regal who was a jerk beyond jerkdom didn't like this at all. Prince Verity didn't seem to mind. He was always kind to Fitz. Prince Verity is another character that I grew to love because of his kindness to Fitz and their relationship later on in the book.

I think this was a really good book to start out the trilogy. Robin Hobb brings us slowly into a world that she built for us to enjoy along the way. Yes, there are some bad people trying to do bad things but isn't there always? But that fact that I could read a fantasy book that wasn't all about - cut off their head, burn, burn, burn, rape this and rape that - was actually pretty nice =)

There are some people that say this book is slow and that is why I said if your looking for some huge action book, this is not it. If your looking for a journey with some good people than you will enjoy it.

Happy Reading!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Regan.
457 reviews110k followers
June 9, 2023
really enjoyed this first book! Can't wait to check out the rest of the series
Profile Image for oyshik.
219 reviews692 followers
August 2, 2021
Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy,#1 Realm of the Elderlings #1)

Enjoyed the book, and admired the unique world Hobb has created. Hobb crafts a beautiful world with depth. You come to understand this world and feel its woes as much as any character. However, people who like action-packed fantasy, they may not like this book.
Don’t do what you can’t undo, until you’ve considered what you can’t do once you’ve done it.

Not Bad...
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 46 books128k followers
January 21, 2009
One of my all-time favorite series. I love it so much I have first edition hardbacks. Lovely, touching, dramatic. It has everything.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
547 reviews34.7k followers
May 30, 2018
”Most prisons are of our own making. A man makes his own freedom, too.”

So this was my first Robin Hobb and I’m positively surprised! =) I mean after reading all those raving reviews I already expected that “Assassin’s Apprentice” would be a good book, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the train of feels that occasionally hit me though. Well, truth be told, that’s actually a bold understatement.

For a book that started out so slowly there certainly were a lot of intense and awesome scenes that had me hooked almost right from the beginning and if you ask me, it’s as good as impossible to read them without being swept away! Hobb has an undeniable talent for the fine arts of building up an interesting storyline and as far as I could tell she never even hesitated to use it! ;-P

While you read the book you stumble over all those typical fantasy tropes (young boy, apprenticeship, relation to the royal family, hard life, etc.), yet the author still managed to make something intriguing and unique. It’s like she used those fantasy tropes as a scaffold in order to build her own world and ideas around it. And tell you what? It worked! XD

This was such a wonderful read and the fact I already borrowed book two from the library should be enough to persuade you to give it a try! ;-)

Since the title of the book is kinda self-explanatory (Assassin’s Apprentice? I can’t help but wonder what it’s going to be about! *lol*) I won’t talk about the plot and will dive right into the characters section instead!

The characters:

WARNING! This is the danger zone! *lol* I’ll spoil in here and if you hate to be spoiled you better run in the other direction! ;-P Can’t say I didn’t warn you, can you? XD


”I know he meant well. But I did not feel protected by him, but confined. He was the warden that ensured my isolation with fanatical fervour. Utter loneliness was planted in me then, and set its deep roots down into me.”

Aww Fitz! I love this Boy! (See what I did there?! XD) He’s so sweet and funny and I can already see him becoming a sassy and clever protagonist in the future! Unfortunately he still has to learn a lot about life and the dangerous world he’s living in so I mostly felt really sorry for him while reading this book. There were so many moments that broke my heart and there were times I was like: CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE THIS POOR BOY A BREAK?!! Plus some of the scenes were so damn amazing that they really stuck with me. For instance the “Silver Knife Scene”! Chade and King Shrewd wanted to test Fitz loyalty and they did it in a very cruel way. My poor Boy suffered so much but once the problem was resolved he didn’t back down. No! He made his point by stealing a silver knife right in front of his King and driving it into the wood of Chade’s shelf! *LOL* THAT WAS SO DAMN AWESOME!!!! The sass and defiance!!! Gosh I loved it so much! Plus can we acknowledge the wonderful atmosphere of the “Poison Scene”? It easily became one of my all-time favourite scenes and the twist was executed so well I could only gasp in disbelieve and awe! So cleverly done, Hobb! So cleverly done! *shakes head*


”I’ll be teaching you the nasty, furtive, polite ways to kill people. You’ll either develop a taste for it, or not. That isn’t something I’m in charge of. But I’ll make sure you know how.”

Haha! Chade instantly became one of my favourites of this book! I mean he’s the Royal Assassin and he’s a wise and good man. He has principles, he knows his limits and he did his best to tap his full potential. It made me very sad he was so painfully aware of the fact that he was raising and educating the next generation and that his use was going to run out as soon as his replacement was ready. Yet he still knew that it wasn’t Fitz fault and taught him everything he needed in order to do his job. I have a very deep respect for Chade and I really hope he’ll live through the next two books.

”Sometimes,” grumbled Chade, “it is better to be defiantly wrong than silent.”

”You’re a bastard, Fitz. We’re always a risk and vulnerability. We’re always expendable. Except when we are an absolute necessity to their own security.”


”You failed? No, Fitz. I fialed. I was too soft-hearted to beat it out of you at the first sign of it.”

Gosh, I’m still so torn when I think of Burrich. I mean in some way he’s Fitz father figure and it’s clear he only meant well, but boy the way he tried to raise him was so damn wrong sometimes. *sighs* I mean every parent makes mistakes; we’re all human after all, but to punish Fitz so much? He and Nosy were everything Fitz had and that stubborn mule named Burrich just didn’t realise how much Fitz needed and loved him. He was just a little boy that needed a safe place and it should have been Burrich who provided it. I mean he didn’t even give him a chance to explain. He would have been dead without Fitz connection to Smithy, yet he refused to listen to him. ARGH!!! It makes me so angry. *lol* I know Anish has a different opinion about him, but I just can’t forgive Burrich for what he did. *sighs deeply*

”How you must have hated me.”
“And feared you.”
“All those years? And you never learned better of me, never thought to yourself, ‘He would not do such a thing’?”


”I must have dozed, for I woke to his hand on my hair. “Do they tell you to watch over me so, boy, even when I sleep? What do they fear, then?”
“Naught that I know, Verity. They tell me only to bring you food, and see as best I can that you eat it. No more than that.”

I absolutely adored and loved Verity! He’s such an awesome character and he’s always true to his name. I really liked his relationship with Fitz and I hope he’ll feel a lot better in the next book. It hurt to see how much the Skill took from him and for a second near the end I really thought he wouldn’t make it. =( Gosh that was suspenseful! *lol* I’m just glad he’s fine now and I’m sure Princess Kettricken and him will make a wonderful couple. They are both on the more practical side of things and even though it’s no marriage of love, I’m sure Verity will win her heart. (Maybe she’ll win his too? XD)


”Ruthlessness creates its own rules. So my mother taught me. People are intimidated by a man who acts with no apparent regard for consequences. Behave as if you cannot be touched and no one will dare to touch you.”

I hate Regal! I hate him so much! Such an arrogant, snobby, superior feeling little piece of s***! He’s a clever villain; I have to give him that but his obvious distaste for Fitz caused me to dislike him from the very start! I mean there are villains and then there are villains! Regal is one I just can’t help but hate! XD How he and Galen treated Fitz was so cruel that I wanted to bang their heads together multiple times! And don’t even get me started about the death of Nosy, if it wouldn’t have been for Nosy Fitz would have died at the end. =((( Oh my, poor Nosy. That last paragraph killed me. He saved him, He dragged him out of the water and then he died, trying to give him strength… I can’t even… *sobs violently*

King Shrewd:

”A bastard, Regal, is a unique thing. Put a signet ring on his hand and send him forth, and you have created a diplomat no foreign ruler will dare to turn away. He may safely be sent where a prince of the blood may not be risked. Imagine the uses for one who is and yet is not of the royal bloodline. Hostage exchanges. Marital alliances. Quiet work. The diplomacy of the knife.”

I still don’t know what to make out of King Shrewd. I mean at the moment he’s obviously on Fitz’s and Verity’s side, but I have no idea which side he’ll choose when we get a better grasp of the big picture. I have no doubt that he’s an opportunist and he’s certainly shrewd enough to use this to his advantage. Plus Regal and Verity are his sons. He might care for them both but I’m sure he’ll support whoever wins their dangerous game in the end. So yeah, I’m #TeamVerity and I really hope Regal won’t get a second chance. ;-)

The Fool:

”Because your heart will be hammered against him, and your strength will be tempered in his fire.”

I loved the Fool! He’s so mysterious and such an intriguing character. I really would have liked to find out more about him, but Hobb kept us in the dark and I’m convinced she had her reasons to do so. I’m pretty sure the Fool knows about everything that happens at court and I’m also more than just certain that he’s an advisor of King Shrewd. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to him though and that he might have even disobeyed some of the king’s commands in order to help Fitz. Hobb, I want more of the Fool in the next book! XD

The Wit and The Skill:

”The appetite for the Skill is one that devours a man, not one that nourishes him.”

Boy did it take long until we finally got a decent explanation what the Skill is about. *lol* I know Anish was getting impatient and so was I! Haha! Whilst it’s true that the Skill is an intriguing ability, I’m still fascinated with the Wit as well. I’m convinced that those two go hand in hand and could work together and if I’m correct it’s really remarkable Fitz has an aptitude for both! =) The quote above made me think there might be a connection and since the Skill devours a man and the Wit seems to nourish it, Fitz could be a more than just powerful man! Just think about all the possibilities! ;-P

And with this thought I’m finally ending my rather long review. XD
“Assassin’s Apprentice” was an amazing and well-thought-out fantasy tale and I’m already curious about the next book! =)

Since this was a buddy read with The Sweet Manisha and The Amazing Anish I want to thank them both. I’m sorry Manisha had to drop out of our buddy read at some point but I’m still glad you guys were willing to read this book with me! Thank you for experiencing this with me and also thank you for your interesting thoughts and input! =) It definitely made this an even better read! ;-)
Profile Image for Kaion.
501 reviews105 followers
March 30, 2010
I find a lot of fantasy authors are in love with the internalized conceptions of their worlds. This can lead to great nuanced detail supporting imaginative storytelling... but the flipside can be a creation that fails to translate that vision to the actual page, to the audience.

Assassin's Apprentice illustrates this point fairly well. Robin Hobb has clearly lovingly created the world of the Six Duchies, and this love is echoed through the tale's device: born a bastard son to the king's heir, Fitz recalls growing up in the intense environment of court and his first mission as the king's assassin. It's not the most original premise, but Hobb revels in the details of the world's class divide and trade routes and political alliances. However, she forgets to tell us why we should *care* about any of this.

I'm sure the whole thing is some epic prequel to Fitz's story of some sort, but I want to hear *that* story, not the backlog. It's not unpleasant but after the fifth exposition dialogue of political machinations in which I was given no stake, I didn't really see a reason to continue reading. The main character simply meandered around in a seemingly unending training montage with nary a purpose in sight. I don't mind a slow buildup, but the ideas here, while artfully portrayed, were still very much in a generic-court-fantasy mold... giving me no incentive to stick around (no payoff to collect). Rating: 1 star
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
434 reviews4,256 followers
August 30, 2023
Maybe just the wrong time to read this?

A six-year old boy is dropped off on the doorstep to the royal family. He is the illegitimate son of a prince. He has no name. What is to become of this boy? Who will he turn into? What is in a name?

The beginning of The Assassin’s Apprentice immediately had me hooked. It is incredibly moving and heartrending. Also, I really enjoyed the fantasy. It is what I would describe as realistic fantasy. The author doesn’t go too far into worldbuilding and doesn’t bore us with long bouts of foreign languages. This is the fantasy that I most enjoy.

Additionally, this book was giving off mild hints of The Golden Compass/The Northern Lights with the close human/animal connection (so if you really enjoyed The Assassin’s Apprentice, I would highly, highly recommend reading The Golden Compass or Northern Lights if you haven’t already done so).

The Assassin���s Apprentice is also unpredictable at times with major unexpected twists. The ending was also very fast-paced and interesting.

However, the middle section was disappointing. I told The One Who Does Not Read that I was 70% into the book, and I still didn’t know what it was about. It was extremely character driven (not plot driven), and I just don’t like character driven books. I want the suspense to build (and I felt that only happened in the last 10% of the book).

Also, I am just having the hardest time concentrating lately. The paragraphs in this book were just too long for me. I didn’t actually measure out the paragraphs, but they felt longer than of the works that I have read by Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, or Patrick Rothfuss.

Overall, this book has a very strong beginning and end, good fantasy elements, reminds me of my favorite series, but the writing style just didn’t work for me.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Ira Perkins.
18 reviews38 followers
May 8, 2023
Why did I wait so long to begin this series?! Fantastic book, and the unforgettable characters in it have undoubtedly captured my heart!!

Final Rating: 4.4/5 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌗

So I finally took the plunge and picked up my first Robin Hobb book, Assassin's Apprentice, feeling a mix of excitement and apprehension as I embarked on the journey of this lengthy series. Let me tell you, I was absolutely blown away by the depth of Fitz and Hobb's incredible characterisations! If you're looking for a reason to dive into this series, look no further than the unforgettable characters that will capture your heart and imagination from the get-go. While the plot and world-building weren't the most riveting, Fitz and his companions will mean you'll hardly notice. I can't wait to read more!

Plot Summary
Assassin's Apprentice, the first book in Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy, follows Fitz, the illegitimate son of Prince Chivalry Farseer. Raised at the royal court, Fitz is secretly trained as an assassin for the crown by the enigmatic Chade Fallstar. As Fitz learns the deadly arts, navigates court politics, and grapples with his magical abilities—the animal-linked Wit and the mind-manipulating Skill—he faces the growing threat of the Red-Ship Raiders. Amid betrayals, friendships, and a budding romance with his childhood friend Molly, Fitz strives to find his place in a world that tests his loyalty, courage, and humanity.

Characterisation: 7/5
Yup you read that right. The Characterisation in Assassin's Apprentice is so straight-up amazing, I'm giving it bonus points! Hobb's characters are just so incredibly well-done. Fitz, our main guy, is super relatable, with his vulnerabilities and growth making him feel like a real person you'd want to root for. I was all-in on his journey, and the way he struggled to find his place in the world really hit me in the feels. And the supporting cast? They're all fleshed out, with their own quirks, goals, and motivations, making every interaction a treat to read.

Beyond Fitz, there's a whole crew of memorable characters like Chade, the mysterious mentor, Burrich, the tough-as-nails hound master, and the enigmatic Fool, just to name a few. Hobb nails it with giving each of them a unique voice and making them feel like real people with their own hopes, fears, and flaws. The relationships between the characters are super complex and believable, with heartwarming moments of friendship and loyalty, as well as gut-wrenching scenes of betrayal and loss. Even the bad guys aren't just one-dimensional; Hobb dives deep into their motivations, making them feel more real and adding to the whole narrative. Overall, the characterization in Assassin's Apprentice is just top-tier, with a cast of unforgettable characters that'll pull you into their world and have you invested in their stories like never before!

“When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead.”

World Building: 3/5
The Six Duchies world in Assassin's Apprentice is pretty interesting and sets a decent stage for the story, but it didn't completely blow me away. The culture, politics, geography well thought out, but sometimes, I wished certain aspects were explored more to make the setting even more immersive. I really enjoyed the magic system of the Skill and the Wit - especially how Fitz relates to his various animal companions. It also is hinted in the book about these pretty awesome Elderlings, that I'm really looking forward to finding out more as the series opens up more. Overall, while the world-building in Assassin's Apprentice has its strong points and provides a nice backdrop for Fitz's story, there were moments when I felt that certain aspects could have been delved into more deeply to really bring the world to life.

“Don’t do what you can’t undo, until you’ve considered what you can’t do once you’ve done it.”

Plot: 3/5
The story follows Fitz, a royal bastard navigating the ins and outs of life at court. Honestly, while the story had some cool twists and turns, I found it a bit hit or miss at times. Some parts dragged, but it did pick up in certain places, keeping me intrigued enough to push through. It's a mix of politics, adventure, and a dash of mystery, which, while not always perfectly balanced, still made for an entertaining read.

Fitz's journey takes him through a variety of challenges, from learning how to survive at court to discovering and mastering his magical abilities. As an outsider in a world full of political machinations and power plays, Fitz often finds himself in difficult situations. There are moments where the tension and suspense had me on the edge of my seat, and other times when the plot felt a little predictable or slow. Nonetheless, the overall arc of Fitz's journey has its compelling moments and keeps you invested in his story.

“Very little worth knowing is taught by fear.”

Writing Style: 5/5
Hobb's writing in Assassin's Apprentice is seriously awesome. It's got a really smooth flow to it, and she's a wizard at painting a picture with her words. She knows how to make you feel like you're right there in the story with the characters, experiencing their emotions up close and personal. The prose is definitely one of the book's biggest strengths.

Her descriptions are vivid and captivating, allowing you to easily visualize the world of the Six Duchies and the characters within it. The dialogue feels genuine and engaging, further adding to the believability of the characters and their relationships. Hobb's writing style strikes a great balance between being fancy and easy to read, making it a breeze to get lost in the story without feeling bogged down by super complicated language.

But the one of the things that really stands out in Hobb's prose is her knack for conveying the emotional depth of the characters. She expertly captures the nuances of their feelings, from joy and triumph to despair and heartbreak, making it easy to empathize with their struggles and victories. This emotional connection adds another layer of immersion to the reading experience, making it even more enjoyable.... #TheFEELS!

“Nothing takes the heart out of a man more than the expectation of failure.”

Enjoyment: 4/5
Initially, I was pretty nervous about starting this book since it's the beginning of a super long series, which meant committing to a massive time investment. I kept wondering: will I enjoy it? Will it hook me? Sure, it had the usual first-book problem of a somewhat slow-paced story and world-building (gotta set the scene, right?), but man, the characters and writing just knocked my socks off. I'm seriously pumped to see how Fitz grows, how his friendships evolve, and how the wild mix of magic and politics will shape his journey. I couldn't be more stoked to have discovered a fantastic new series to dive into and really sink my teeth into!

Final Rating: 4.4/5 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌗

My favourite books of 2023 in preferential order
1. The Shadow of the Gods - (My Review)
2. The Lies of Locke Lamora
3. Kings of the Wyld - (My Review)
4. Red Seas Under Red Skies - (My Review)
5. The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World
6. Assassin's Apprentice
7. Golden Son
8. Leviathan Wakes - (My Review)
9. The Winter King - (My Review)
10. Gardens of the Moon - (My Review)
11. The Song of Achilles - (My Review)
12. Red Sister - (My Review)
13. Babel: An Arcane History - (My Review)
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
264 reviews3,968 followers
March 26, 2022
Wonderful start to a series with incredible character writing

What a wonderful start to a series. If I were to rate this book on plot alone I would probably give it 3/5 stars. If I were to rate this book on character building, I would probably give it 10/5 stars.

Robin Hobb makes you truly understand who all these characters are, and gets you to deeply care about them more than perhaps any other book I have ever written. While the plot is somewhat dull compared to other big-time fantasy books, it doesn't matter and probably wouldn't serve it well for what Hobb is trying to do here.

Check out my new youtube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books seconds after I finish the book.
Profile Image for A. .
256 reviews103 followers
December 23, 2008
This book made me realize a number of things:

1. I like the idea of killing people for fun and profit
2. You can't trust your uncle
3. I like men who whine a lot and play with dogs
4. I would like to read people's minds, but I do not want them to read mine
5. Poison is an interesting topic, and discussing it with strangers online can lead to tragic relationships with gay Nazis who live in other countries

If you keep these things in mind, you will be able to enjoy this book more.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
February 14, 2019
first and foremost, i need to praise robin hobb. with the literary world constantly fawning over the likes of george r.r. martin, brandon sanderson, patrick rothfuss, etc., it is so refreshing to read an epic/high fantasy written by a woman. you go, girl!

there is so much to love about this book. i will admit, this is a very foundational book. its quite slow, as there is a lot of page time dedicated to the development of characters and the building of the world in which they live. but this is done with such expertise that the slow pace is hardly a negative, especially during the last 100 or so pages where things get really good! i also admired the quality of writing - it has a very old school vibe to it, but the story feels modern. no idea how thats accomplished, but it totally works.

the one thing keeping this from being a 5 star read is how tame it is. im not sure exactly what this says about me, but i was expecting (and even hoping for) this to be a bit darker. maybe its because the last book i read about assassins was the total bloodbath that is ‘nevernight,’ so i think my expectations were a bit skewed. but for a book revolving around an assassins apprentice, this story has such a light and almost carefree feeling to it. and although the tone doesnt necessarily hinder the storytelling, it just would have felt more realistic if this was grittier.

overall, this is a delightfully engaging story and a wonderful escape into a positively stunning world. im so glad there are so many books which take place in this universe because i am certainly a fan of ms. hobbs work!

4 stars
Profile Image for Samantha.
441 reviews16.7k followers
May 30, 2017
Bullet points for this review because although Robin Hobb likes to ramble on.. I do not.

A Summary of this book:
-- Fitz's life sucks
-- lots of winding and turning and taking an especially long time to get to the point
-- lots of predictable plots but not knowing exactly how we'd get there

While the writing is good, the story in this one is just ok. Nevertheless, I'm going to read on as planned because I'm reading this trilogy simply to get to her other trilogies. I do feel I'll get more and more attached to her characters in each book.

I'll be doing a spoiler free review and discussion on my channel.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
January 3, 2016
I feel so sorry for Fitzchivalry because he had such a rough start to life. The boy is despised for the simple fact that he exists. He is a royal bastard, and his dishonourable conception means that his father’s name is forever sullied; that much so that he was forced to abdicate the throne; thus, half the royal Farseer court already hates Fitz because he is, supposedly, the reason why the popular Prince had to retire from court life. Poor, poor, Fitz, he was hated from the very beginning.

He was used rather than destroyed

I think King Shrewd truly lives up to his name sake because he has such an interesting way of dealing with unwanted potential claimants to his throne. Instead of simply murdering Fitz, and ridding himself of a potential threat, he binds the boy to himself with unwavering loyalty. He turns Fitz into an assassin; he gives him a home and protection in return for one day being the assassin of the Farseer court. Nobody else could give the unwanted boy such a deal. Shrewd is truly shrewd. I think this is a truly brilliant idea naming characters this way because the individuals eventually begin to embody their name’s sake; it helps to demonstrate what a particular character is about and make them sound rather royal in the process. I love it. Not all characters are named this way, but for those that are it works really well.

The character development in this novel alone is phenomenal. Fitz is forged into an assassin in just three hundred pages, though this is no easy task. His mentor, Chade, is kind and guiding, but he also expects a great deal out of his pupil. Fitz is forced into an unsuspecting test of loyalty, and in his childlike innocence he could quite easily have made the wrong decision. Most children would have, but he has a slight edge: he has Farseer blood. And he has also experienced the worse the court has to offer. Fitz has learnt to survive, and he has learnt to accept his mentor’s advice almost without question.

“Learning is never wrong. Even learning how to kill isn't wrong. Or right. It's just a thing to learn, a thing I can teach you. That's all.”


But, that doesn’t mean Fitz has to like his work; it is something he must do. In this, Fitz never loses himself. He becomes an assassin, but he doesn’t become a murderer. It’s a thin line, I know. However, if the people being assassinated pose a threat to the peace of the Six Duchies, then surely the deed can be considered noble and just. To my mind, Fitz is truly heroic because of this. He is the perfect protagonist, and he is written wonderfully. None of this is easy for him though. The killing is hard, but learning his innate magic is even harder. His upbringing is a truly arduous time because of this; he is not only being trained as an assassin, but also to wield the ancient magic known as the skill.

Two fantastic magic systems

Robin Hobb’s magic systems are as dangerous as they are spectacular. Fitz’ trainer in the skill (a powerful form of telepathic magic) is a tyrannical and sadistic man; he is one of those strong haters of the boy, and uses every opportunity to abuse and torture him. He is the exact opposite of the kindly Chade: he is simply brutal. The Skill master’s hatred for Fitz is completely unreasonable and undoubtable. As the novel progresses the reasoning behind the cruelty becomes less and less obvious, until its odd origins are revealed. Fitz truly didn’t have much chance picking up the basics of the skill form this so called master of the magic; he struggles for many years with it afterwards because of his treatment by the brute.

“Very little worth knowing is taught by fear.”

And if that wasn’t enough, for poor little Fitz to shoulder, he also has the Wit magic. This is even harder for him to understand because he is not fully aware that he has it. It is a rare form of power that allows him to communicate with animals. This communication can then form unto a lasting bond, if both user and beast mutually agree. They link minds in lasting friendship. His surrogate farther, Burrich, views the magic as a perversity and punishes the boy whenever he suspects he uses it; thus, Robin Hobb has given Fitz a lot to deal with. The result is a very confused boy who has too much of a burden. It’s a miracle he actually manages to get out of bed in the morning with the amount of things craving his time and attention.


At this point, I don’t think I really need to say I love this book, but I’ll do it anyway: I love this book! This is such a great opening to the series and whilst it is already complicated for Fitz, it’s only going to get worse; this is merely the beginning of his life and his story. He has barely seen the Fool for what he is yet, which is much more than a jester. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series again, and post my reviews. This is my favourite modern fantasy series. Nobody does this quite like Robin Hobb; she weaves such strong emotions into her characters.

The Farseer Trilogy
1. Assassin’s Apprentice- An overwhelming five stars
2. Royal Assassin - A character defining five stars
Profile Image for Adina .
891 reviews3,545 followers
September 30, 2020

Finally I am up to date with my reviews.

Assassin's Apprentice is the first volume in the Farseer Trilogy. The trilogy is part of a larger series called the Realm of the Elderlings. Based on my book feed, the author is much loved among the fantasy lovers and her books are considered classics of the genre.

The trilogy should come with the following warning: This is a character driven series and if you want an action packed adventure story look elsewhere. Also, it is a bit depressing since the main character seems to attract only misfortune and abuse. From what I read, the remaining two books are not much different. On the other hand, the writing is beautiful without being overdone and since the characters are the main focus of the series, a lot of effort is put into their sketching.

I don't want to add much to the blurb. We have a few of the classics tropes. To start, Fitz is a Prince's bastard whose grandfather from the mother side abandons at the gates of the castle. He is taken by the current king to be raised and used as a tool when the times come. He is obviously a kind soul and is hated by the bad people because of what he represents. He is faced with some challenges and quests but the surprise is that the outcome is not what one would expect, success and eternal love. The plot is darker, not very happy, the plot develops slowly and there aren't many adrenaline packed episodes. There are some glimpses of hope though, not all is bleak. Still, Fitz grew on me and I ended up liking the novel and even buying the next one when I finished.
Profile Image for Sean Gibson.
Author 6 books5,797 followers
July 9, 2016
It hasn’t been that long since I cracked the virtual spine on a new fantasy series, but it has been a while since I began one that felt like this.

(Um, Sean? Can you maybe, I don’t know, define what “this” is, on account of the fact that empathetic internet is, as of yet, at least still a few years away?)

“This” is fully realized, well written and conceived, and faithful to some of the most tried and true fantasy tropes while simultaneously standing one very big one on its heads (namely, and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything that’s not in the title of the book here, that our main character, Fitz, is being trained to be an assassin, a line of work that is not generally considered sympatico vis-à-vis being a heroic paragon of virtue).

As much as anything, this is a coming of age story, and it’s paced accordingly. You know how, growing up, your life is marked by milestones (first sleepover, staying home alone the first time, first kiss, driver’s license, first time you manage to kill a dracolich in a game of 2nd edition AD&D (an event that likely transpired long, long before your first kiss)) that break up an otherwise monotonous cycle of school, chores, hanging out with friends, exploring the wondrous things that can happen when you spend time alone with a bottle of Jurgens contemplating the shower scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation, etc.? That’s basically what reading The Assassin’s Apprentice is like, but that’s neither a critique nor an indicator that it’s in any way boring. Monotony generally implies boringness, but I would argue that all of those repetitive activities you undertook growing up incrementally formed your character (or, at least, chafed your most sensitive parts, depending on how frequently you indulged in thoughts of an in-her-prime Beverly D’Angelo). So it is for Fitz, and watching him undergo his journey—slow and painful though it can occasionally be—is a delight.

Hobb builds her world methodically, brick by brick; she manages to deftly balance driving the story forward while highlighting the unique features of the world, and never once do you feel as though you’re on world-building data dump overload. Her writing is a delight, and she conjures a feel reminiscent of some of the fantasy luminaries I enjoyed working my way through when I really started to get into reading fantasy late in high school (the two who come foremost to mind, in terms of making a tonal comparison, are David Eddings and Raymond Feist).

Would I have liked a little bit more action here and there, a little more with the swords and the heroics and magic fireballs? Sure. But, that’s true in real life as well. Who doesn’t love fireballs? Nonetheless, I’m more than sufficiently hooked to continue on, to see if Fitz can remain a sympathetic character as he moves from apprentice assassin to the master assassin, to explore more of this intriguing world, and to go dig out my old VHS copy of Vacation.

(And, hey—how can you not love a book that starts off with a man sleeping with animals in the first 10 pages? Just sleeping, people—no funny business. Get your minds out of the gutter, you filthy perverts.)
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,174 reviews98.8k followers
March 20, 2017
What unexpected, and much needed, joy this book brought me! I know this is a fantasy favorite among so many people I trust, but I never expected it to be as perfect as it was! Fitz and his journey was an absolute joy to read about, and I cannot wait to continue on with this world. Like, I need the next book now.

This story is a slow burn, that's for sure, but learning about the main protagonist, Fitz, and his back story made the slow pace still really enjoyable. Fitz is a bastard of the king in waiting, Chivalry. When he is only six-years old, his grandfather on his mother's side takes him to his father. Obviously he is a blemish on the royal Farseer family's appearance, but his Uncle Verity orders that he be given to the King's stableman, Burrich*, instead. Fitz's father, however, felt so much shame with having a bastard; he goes into exile, giving up his right to the throne

*Also, besides Fitz, Burrich was the MVP of this story. I love that man. His cameos kept warming my heart to no end.

Yeah, Fitz's Uncle Verity is awesome. Unfortunately, his other uncle, Regal, is a major ass and likes to make Fitz's life extremely hard. See, Fitz has something that the book refers to as "the Wit", which basically means that Fitz is able to speak telepathically to animals. Also, for as much as people rave about this series, I was so surprised with Fitz's gift with animals! I had never heard anyone talk about it before, so it was such an amazing surprise and truly made this reading experience even better.

Fitz's connection to animals really meant a lot to me. I'm a huge animal lover, and I've read a lot of fantasy in my days, and this was such a unique and meaningful concept, I was in awe with how perfectly Robin Hobb executed this element.

Using Wit isn't the only magic in this book; we are also introduced to Skilling, which the royal family seems to do with ease. Like using Wit, Skilling is also done telepathically, but instead of animals it is between humans, but we soon learn that using this ability in mass quantities taxes a person very much.

Anyways, once Fitz is a little older, his grandpa on his father's side, you know, the King, gets Fitz to become a "King's Man", which is basically an assassin. He is then given to a man named Chade to become *wait for it* an assassin's apprentice!

Oh, and all the Six Duchies are being attacked by Red-Ship Raiders, who steal people and bring them back with no memory and as shells of their former selves. So, that's a pretty big problem that I'm sure will be addressed even more in the continuation of this series.

I really don't have much to complain about, except that this story is a little slow. Yet, with that slow build, I felt so much empathy for Fitz and the poor hand he got dealt in life. This story truly was on the sadder side of stories, and I want nothing more than for Fitz to get a happy ending, filled with all the cute puppers in the world.

This is for sure a story about love and loyalty, and where people should put their trust. Is the importance on blood truly so great? Does blood really connect us in an explained way that makes it more important than other qualities? How much trust can we put into people just because of their blood, while ignoring everything else that person holds inside of them?

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Profile Image for James Tivendale.
317 reviews1,341 followers
July 27, 2019
This will just be a casual review as I know that the majority of fantasy fans on my friends list will have read/ at least know of this book.

This was an interesting reading experience for me. It only took me about 5 years to finish! I tried it 3 times and couldn’t get further than the 30% point. I attempted it in it’s paperback and audiobook form but to no avail. That being stated, I still knew it wasn’t a bad tale, so I put it back on the shelf for another time in 1, 5, 10, or 20 years when I would give it another go.

I always found the start a bit dull and it couldn’t keep my interest. Apart from Fitz and his pup Nosey, nothing about the characters or the world really enticed me to continue. Recently, I’ve been suffering from insomnia and if I’m being truthful I started listening to the Audiobook of this again hoping it would put me to sleep. It didn’t. I’d listened to half the whole narrative in one night and it was like I was reading a different book. It was a blessing come from hardship as I was really enjoying it. At that point, it was a win-win. Either I could sleep, or I could carry on listening to this great story.

A young boy is left at the gates of a castle and a soldier is told that he is the King-in-Waiting Prince Chivalry’s bastard child. This happens when he is 5 years old and we spend Assassin’s Apprentice following in Fitz’s first-person footsteps for approximately 10 years. After the first 30%, names such as Shrewd, Regal, Verity, Chivalry, Patience and such stop being confusing and I could truly distinguish who was who, their differences, allegiances, motives and it was an awesome feeling. Chances are, most of the ensemble have a problem with this Royal Bastard turning up and Fitz doesn’t have many allies. My favourite characters were father-figure Burrich, honourable Prince Verity, the Fool, and the assassin master Chade. The best parts, however, are probably Fitz’s use of the Wit. This is a very rare skill which allows wielders of such talents to communicate with animals. The second highlight for me was Fitz lessons and training exercises/ tasks assigned to him by Chade. We don’t see too much magic in Assassin’s Apprentice but in addition to ‘the Wit’ there is also the mysterious ‘the Skill,’ which we find out more about as the tale goes on. Some of ‘the Skill’ lessons in the second half of the narrative were pretty harrowing to read.

Although it has it’s slower, more thought-provoking sections, and occasionally Fitz has a ‘woe-is-me-the-world-hates-me-moments (which of course they do) some of the action segments, dramatic confrontations, and political what-the-hell-is-going-on?-intrigue are top-notch.

I won’t say much more apart from that I finished reading this in 2 days and will 100% be carrying on with this series as soon as I can. Once again, this is a classic example of that if you don’t enjoy a book, put it back on the shelf because an older/uglier/wiser/cleverer you in the future might find it exceptional.
Profile Image for ♡ ⊱ Sonja ⊰ ♡.
2,740 reviews449 followers
October 26, 2021
Es tut mir Leid; ich habe dieses Buch so gerne mögen wollen. Ich hatte so hohe Erwartungen... Vielleicht waren sie zu hoch...

Es ist mit Sicherheit ein gutes Buch und auch gut geschrieben. Den Schreibstil an sich mochte ich, aber die Handlung ging gefühlt nicht wirklich voran.

Auf so vielen Seiten ist so wenig passiert; es konnte mich einfach nicht fesseln. Einige Passagen habe ich zum Ende hin nur noch überflogen und dennoch hatte ich nicht das Gefühl, etwas verpasst zu haben.

Für mich war die Geschichte zu ermüdend; ich glaube nicht, dass ich den zweiten Band lesen werde.
Profile Image for William Gwynne.
376 reviews1,707 followers
May 23, 2022
I now have a YouTube channel that I run with my brother, called 'The Brothers Gwynne'. Check it out - The Brothers Gwynne

My review of this AMAZING book is now on BookNest.

Assassin's Apprentice BookNest

“Very little worth knowing is taught by fear.”

I read Assassin's Apprentice late last year, and how amazing it is that I did. This is the book that introduced me to my now second favourite author of all time. I blitzed through three trilogies in this world in less than a month! That is testament to how obsessed I became.

Hobb's characters are just a pure masterclass. Each has such a rare depth, and every action reveals something about them, forming a vivid and real cast that deepened my love and connection in this book and the series. FitzChivalry Farseer is in my top 5 favourite fictional characters of all time, I think that explains my love.

“When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead.”

The prose is more descriptive heavy than dialogue, but there is still a fair balance of speech. The interactions between characters are written fantastically and on the whole the prose is poetic and smooth and flawless. It is a literary genius in action.

If you have not read this book, or any Hobb, I cannot stress enough that you should! It is a magnificent, wonderfully told story that will stay with me for many, many years, having become one of my top series of all time!

Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews352 followers
December 18, 2018
Why has it taken me this long to read Robin Hobb? Truthfully, I am not quite sure. Fears aside, I took the plunge, and can assuredly say it was well worth the wait!
For the sake of clarity, I started with the first of the various series which make up the books set within the Realm of the Elderlings. This meant starting with Assassins Apprentice, the first installment in the Farseer Trilogy.
I have really fallen in love with Robin Hobb’s style of writing. It has so much substance and sophistication which I think high fantasies can sometimes miss. Having said that, she does not over complicate her writing, leaving more room for the plot to mature. I think she really excels in both her descriptions and her speech. When she describes the town, the court, even the hustle and bustle of where the trading ships dock, it is with such vibrancy and color that it carries through and inspires my own imagination. Likewise, Hobb has a very tight grip on the speech used within her works. Not once did I feel that there was a conversation which was stilted or unrealistic. I think this is also a tribute to her brilliant characterization, with the cast of characters all fully fledged beings in their own right.
One of the advantages of this novel was that whilst things were suggested, or links made, it was not necessarily obvious which thread was going to be fully followed. Even halfway through, I was still unsure which direction the novel could be heading. What also surprised me about this novel was that it was very self contained. There are definitely areas from which sequels and parallel series can spring, yet the book can also be read completely by itself. Most firsts in a series are quite slow, with the initial book used to set up and establish the rest in the series, but I did not find that here.

One can expect so much from an author’s first novel, especially one titled after the two words that have become the salt and pepper of fantasy fiction through the decades. And yet, somehow, Robin Hobb takes these tropes that used to make fantasy great, and, with much confidence and palpable pleasure, creates such a captivating story that, when it is over, can result in a serious case of “book hangover”. This is what happens when characters in the hands of a talented author come to life and form a relationship with the reader. It is difficult to move forward to other stories and other worlds, much like saying goodbye to old friends. Thankfully, this is only the beginning of a long series that has set the bar high from the first book. This is the definition of great fantasy, a debut novel called Assassin’s Apprentice.

My first foray into Robin Hobb’s world was a roaring success. It is so refreshing to find more women who are challenging the stereotypes of a genre which is so often favored by males. Assassin’s Apprentice was way better than anything I had expected. I wasn’t bored a second of it, even the courtly intrigues where interesting enough to keep my attention. Hobb writes with such naturalness that I could not help but be pulled in by the narrative she employs, and I cannot wait to delve further into the series.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
851 reviews3,882 followers
February 15, 2021

07/19 : 1.99$ today on kindle! ← I never do that, but that's FITZ. Be serious.

Funny that I thought I would be able to objectively review this favorite of mine. SERIOUSLY? I was way too conceited. Because the truth is...


◘ Because I'm (way) too much involved in Fitz's story to analyze it. I mean, I could pretend, of course, but really? I found myself crying or being out of breath in anticipation so many times that I'm pretty sure my opinion is grandly biased.

Take this, for example : "And then my lessons with Galen began." Yeah, well, I cried at this. Crazy right? Hey, not so crazy in my book, but how in the world would I manage to be fair in a review?

Truth be told, this series is my favorite of all times and I can't dissect my feelings.

◘ Because it's my 5th time reading it and I can't stop sobbing, I can't stop FEELING.

◘ Because I don't care that it's slow paced, I don't care if Fitz is annoying and whiny sometimes, I don't fucking care.

◘ Because I still want to murder Regal and to dismember Galen. Fucking bastards. I hate them so damn much.

◘ Because this lonely and rejected boy who's trying to find his place as an assassin? He is filled with flaws but he is trying so hard and his evolution is both realistic and heart-wrenching, I can't even express how much I adore him. Damn, since I've met him more than 10 years ago, none of the characters I read about could take his place in my heart. None of them .

And then, there's the Fool ♥

► Honestly? I wouldn't be able to be objective to save my life, and I'm at peace with it. So, you know, trust me, don't trust me - I don't know. If you like fantasy and never read this, I don't even know what to say to you. Seriously. I mean, for real? Just go read this series and come plotting Regal's murder with me.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Warda.
1,209 reviews19.7k followers
August 22, 2017
“Be your blood, boy, and ignore what anyone else thinks of you.”

I'm officially part of the Hobb fandom, hallelujah! This book was one of the most joyful slow-burners that I've read. Think 'The Name of the Wind.' It's about our precious Fitz, a bastard, who has been brought up by someone who used to work closely with his father. It is narrated by Fitz himself and we follow his life closely from childhood till his young teenage years.

The writing is quite simply, stunning. From page one I was hooked on it. It's enchanting, immersive and has a dream-like feel to it. Hobb really has a way with story-telling. It lingers and stays with you. The style of narrative was just great.

At times, it did feel a bit too slow for my personal taste. This is not the book to read if you're looking for a story that is fast-paced. The plot moves on its own accord, but there's so much to it! It really delves into Fitz's character, as well as others, and one really forms an attachment to him in particular. Seriously, Fitz had better be protected at all costs! My heart broke for him so many times whilst reading it!

One random thing (not too random, since animals are key to the story) is that this book made me wish I had a dog. And I am not an animal person at all, but the way Hobb wrote the relationships our main character, who I almost feel like is my son now, had with dogs in this story just made me want to tear up constantly. It was so damn beautiful!

I cannot wait to see how this story progresses. I'm SO excited to find out more about the magic system (Wit and Skill. One allows you to form this incredible, unique bond with animals and the other is like telephathy! SO COOL!!!), the world, and the Forged people. And of course, FITZ! 😍❤
Profile Image for Edward.
377 reviews1,012 followers
April 19, 2021
*2nd read - Beautiful book. The illustrated edition is stunning.*

Assassin’s Apprentice was my first read of Robin Hobb and I just don’t know why it has taken me so long to get to The Farseer Trilogy, I really have been missing out! Hobb’s writing and prose quickly captivated me, as did the story of Fitz, a royal bastard without friends or family to care for him.

“When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead.”

Fitz is our protagonist and sole POV within Assassin’s Apprentice. He is a young royal bastard who is thrust into a world of mistrust, royal courts and politics, and the only way he can prevent himself from being a threat to the new king is to become invaluable to him.

Although this is a story dealing with the growing up of a young boy, many dark themes are present and it is indeed a very harsh world that Fitz endures. Fitz is a fantastic character. I instantly resonated with him and loved seeing how he changed over time during Book 1. He also has a very strong affinity with animals and his attachment to these enhanced the reading journey even more. Let’s be honest, we all love a character who adores animals don’t we?

“Too late to apologise, I've already forgiven you.”

As Fitz is growing up, and as he begins a life of learning the art of assassination, we meet a host of secondary characters. These characters are a testament to how great a wrier Hobb is, as I was able to love some and to really really hate others. They are written superbly, namely Chade, King Shrewd, Burrich, Verity and Regal. Oh, and the Fool. Yes there are many great characters and they each stand on their own within this story. Together, they bring the world of the Six Duchies to life and spring Fitz into an altogether difficult life.

“Very little worth knowing is taught by fear.”

One strength of this book I found is actually how slow it is. It floats along, with beautiful description, fantastic world building and really makes you get to grips with the characters and their inhibitions. Some people may say it is too slow but it really wasn’t for me. I loved being able to get to know Fitz and I feel if it was an intensely fast paced book I would have missed all of the subtleties of Hobb’s writing.

There is a strong theme of magic within Assassin’s Apprentice, through Skills and Wits and these both were written intriguingly. I’m usually not a massive fan of deep magic systems but I wanted to find out more about both of these, so I am looking forward to seeing how the next book builds upon this.

“One can only walk so far from one's true self before the bond either snaps, or pulls back. I am fortunate. I have been pulled back.”

5/5 - There is a lot to write about Assassin’s Apprentice because it contains so much. It isn’t a fast paced book, but I felt that this made me enjoy it even more. Can’t wait to read the next one.
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
410 reviews917 followers
July 21, 2018
Men cannot grieve as dogs do. But we grieve for many years.

Wow. This book really got under my skin.

At its core, Assassin's Apprentice is a story about loneliness - about a lonely boy, the bastard son of the former crown prince, growing up in a kingdom that does not want him. Fitz grows up among servants and soldiers in the king's palace, working in the shadow of his grandfather and uncles as a stableboy. Working with dogs, he discovers a talent for the Wit, a mental ability that allows him to sense beings around him and forge emotional bonds with them. Eventually Fitz is recruited to train as a royal assassin for King Shrewd.

The plot progression is slow, and certainly doesn't follow common plot structure guidelines. Robin Hobb takes her time describing the settings of each scene, as well as the nuances of each character and their standing to others in the book. As a result, her fantasy world comes to life in gorgeous detail across the pages. Descriptions of the kingdom and culture were vivid and will stay with me even if I do not continue this series.

The author's writing also shines in the dialogue she creates; although Fitz is a quiet, reserved boy, he is often wrapped up in conversation by the servants and nobles of the castle. Every character's inner personality and motivations are subtly revealed in their speech, and each line of dialogue is packed with meaning beyond the spoken words. One of my favorite lines came from Fitz's mentor, Chade, speaking of becoming the king's man:
"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."
Wise and moving dialogue like this was a dime a dozen in this book.

So while the book was a slow read with little danger or excitement, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much had Hobb cut some of the imagery and dialogue.

I do have one complaint, which took one star off my rating. Fitz, as a protagonist, is very passive. Although he is often described by other characters, as well as the narrator, as a catalyst, Fitz generally does not drive the plot. Rather, the plot drives him. Much of the book features him reluctantly reacting to a problem at hand or observing the actions of others. That lack of initiative made it difficult to see how Fitz would become a legendary hero in later books.
Profile Image for Luffy (Oda's Version).
765 reviews761 followers
December 17, 2021
Assassin's Apprentice has a shine to it. It is a dull kind of shine, like light passing through amber. It is a confident piece of fiction. Fantasy, no less. And it was released when the stampede to write the next Lord of the Rings had abated.

I thought that this was a mighty tale. When I had read all but the last two chapters, excluding the footnote of an epilogue, I realised that the book would appear in my top 20 books read, of all time, and of all genres.

I usually recoil on myself and refuse to take part in the illusion of reading whenever the main character has too hard a life. Fitz has that. But there was something that appealed to my sense of karmic bookkeeping. My uncontrollable ache and concern for the hero was harnessed.

Robin Hobb masterfully orchestrated her story. She displayed patience and kept her narrative detached in a woody, wobbly kind of writing. Like most excellent Fantasy, magic here was hard to find. This was a Fantasy world that knew its identity. It was not a pseudo medieval and humid cosmos.

The small pockets of good and bad befalling saw to the uncaring pace of the book. I sometimes forgot myself while reading. It felt as if I was really loving which is the proper elicitation that a great book guarantees. All things considered, I liked this book to a feverish degree.
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