Fool’s Assassin (Robin Hobb)

Fool’s Assassin (Robin Hobb)Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Limited on 12-08-2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, General
Pages: 640
Format: eARC
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Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz's violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FARSEER AND TAWNY MAN TRILOGIES STOP READING NOW! (and go read Assassin’s Apprentice instead)

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Readability: ★★★★

The storyFitz is happily ensconced in Withywoods, married to the woman of his dreams, far away from the deceit of Buckeep Court and his old life.  He and Molly are raising Molly’s children, dealing with the normal pleasures and trials of family life, running Withywoods and their marriage – a far cry from his old life.  So when a messenger shows up in the middle of Winterfest, Fitz doesn’t think too much of it – until the messenger disappears without a trace.  Fitz has no idea who sent the messenger or why, and has no idea of the problems racing to catch up with him.

The story is definitely character-driven rather than a fast paced plot, but it’s still engrossing.  There are enough hints to the overarching plot to keep you guessing about where the story is going, but the day to day problems are also beautifully handled and it’s fun to sink into Fitz’s new life as Tom Badgerlock.

Fool’s Assassin is a slower read – I would say it’s more similar in feel to Fool’s Errand than to the original Assassin’s Apprentice – but not in a bad way.  I think everything in the story is needed – it helps you remember all those things you love about Fitz, and also see how he lives now, in his happy but Fool- and Nighteyes-less future. I personally loved the pacing; a slow, gentle ease into Fitz’s world, with a mystery that picks up pace slowly and I love where the story seems to be heading.  Having said that, I’ve always loved character-driven stories, so I can see how this might be something others don’t love.  I also loved the faster paced final section of the book and would have liked a little more of this, because to me it feels like Fool’s Assassin runs the risk of doing a little too much setting up for the rest of the trilogy rather than starting the story.  I would personally have preferred a little more length and a little more action even if it meant we had a book closer in length to Fool’s Fate.

 

The characters

Despite the fact there are 11 years between the publication of Fool’s Fate and Fool’s Assassin, Fitz is perfect.  After such a quiet period of happiness, he’s obviously changed a little but he’s still very clearly the same character.  He hasn’t changed fundamentally, his voice remains the same, and I thought Linette’s review which says it’s like catching up with an old friend is an absolutely perfect description.

There are some new characters in the story, some of whom are hard to talk about without spoilers, but suffice to say that as always, Hobb’s characters draw you in.  The characters in this are so real, so beautifully three-dimensional, you could easily imagine sitting in Fitz’s study listening to them.  Expect to laugh with them, cry with them, feel proud of them and feel furious on their behalf.

Although we return to Fitz, unlike the Farseer trilogy we get to see more points of view than just Fitz’s in Fool’s Asssassin, which works perfectly for the story.  Both points of view are told in first-person, so you still feel immersed as you did in the Farseer trilogy, but having more than one point of view really helps with the world-building and the setting up of new characters.  I did find it a little difficult at first to keep track of whose point of view was whose, as there’s no chapter headings or anything to give this away, but I found that it became more clear as the novel went on.

 

final thoughtsAfter more than 10 years, a return to the world of Fitz has been a long-term dream for many Hobb fans, and for me at least, it did not disappoint at all.  It has beautiful descriptive writing that never feels slow, characters who feel so real you could reach out and touch them, and the hints of a plot related to some of the most intriguing questions ever asked throughout the Realm of the Elderlings’ series.

 

Buy it? This is absolutely one worth buying for me.  Like…right now. Go!
In a nutshell: An emotional, beautifully character-driven start to a new series – I’m already wishing for the next book

 

Other Reviews of Fool’s Assassin: BookishSwint | Super Fast Reader | Avid reviews

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