Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Assassin's Apprentice; R. Hobb

Written by Robin Hobb and published by Bantam in 1995, Assassin's Apprentice is the first book in the Farseer Trilogy. This particular volume seems to me to be a classic coming of age tale, but I'm unsure exactly where the other two books will go. I have a theory or two, but no definite ideas. I've not read any of Ms. Hobb's works before; I wrote her name down on a little post-it & then forgot about it. Found the post-it a few weeks ago and took the name to the library- and here we are!

Fitzchivalry Farseer is the illegitimate son of the soon to be former heir to the throne of the Six Duchies. Prince Chivalry is forced to abdicate due to his supposed infraction (before he married his wife- aptly named Patience). The Farseer family doesn't abandon the nameless child, but neither do they name him or properly care for him either. Fitz takes his name because it directly alludes to his birth (the name Fitz is given/taken by illegitimate children) and it's better than being called Bastard all the time. For many years Fitz is left to molder in the stables with the dogs and miscellaneous animals. Not fully recognized or cared for as a young child ought to be. Yet he surmises many of the circumstances surrounding his birth due to deliberate cruelty and the unthinking comments made by elders who ignore the children in their midst.

Over the course of his 'tween and early teen years Fitz is surreptitiously taken under King Shrewd's wing and educated and better cared for. He is also apprenticed to the King's chief poisoner, a mysterious man named Chade. By degrees and painful lessons Fitz learns a measure of his proper station in the King's household. He learns who his enemies are. However, the price Fitz pays for his tenuous position in King Shrewd's household is very high. Will it be worth it in the end? Can he pay the price demanded of him? And what of the awful sea raiders and their damaged prisoners? Will King Shrewd and Prince Verity defeat them? And what noxious substance is Prince Regal addicted to?

I was a little surprised at the Puritan-like giving of trait names to characters (Prudence, Patience, Verity, Charity, etc) but I was immediately absorbed into Fitz's tale. Far too late did I try to unravel the complicated political intrigues surrounding him. The tale is primarily told about Fitz, and being a child for much of it, the political aspects were casually hidden in the background while the reader roots for Fitz as he struggles with yet another facet of castle life. The clues were all there, but I ignored much of them until farther into the story- when I realized I really ought to have paid more attention! Definitely recommended. I've borrowed the next book in the trilogy already.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Funny about you reading this now. I just reread it a week or so ago. Had been maybe a decade or so since I'd last read it. But I like it.