This reread of Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb made me appreciate this book more than I used to.
5/5 21/25 Possible Score
Plot – 4(Strong)
Characters – 5(Very Strong)
Setting/World Building – 3(Fine)
Writing Style – 5(Very Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 5(Very Strong)
Fitz is the illegitimate son of the prince in line for the throne. He is given up by his mother’s family to live with his father’s family at the center of power in the Six Duchies. While there, he is mistreated, and works hard as a stable hand for his new guardian Burrich. Fitz has a unique and mystical bond with animals that allows him to communicate with them.
When the king of the Six Duchies decides that Fitz should be useful to the royal family, Fitz starts training to become an assassin for the crown.
Assassin’s Apprentice was the very first fantasy book that I read that was written in first person. Back in the late 90s, fantasy was dominated by shifting point of view stories, as it is still today. That reading experience was a one of a kind reading experience that I wanted to recapture, as I continue on with Robin Hobb’s works.
In my limited reading experience, Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy is the best first person fantasy series of all time. The reason I believe that is because in Assassin’s Apprentice, the detail of what Fitz is feeling, and the detail of his understanding of how others are feeling, is untouchable by any other series. Some fantasy books scratch the surface of character’s emotions but because of Hobb’s first person perspective we really feel how Fitz feels. This isn’t just one-dimensional emotion either, it is complex, gut-wrenching emotion being described, and it just works for me.
Due to this emotional emphasis on Fitz and even the other characters in the book, the characterization is fantastic. Each character is complex and well engineered to not just be background for Fitz but to give themselves a role within the story. This is where I believe Hobb succeeds more than her peers in first person story telling, because most authors are great at getting into the minds of the character telling the story, but very few can explain other characters through the main character as well as Robin Hobb.
I connect with Fitz on an emotional level. For some reason I see a part of myself in him. I did when I read it as a teenager and I still do as an adult. I believe that it is the loneliness and connection to animals that Fitz has, that impacts me so much, and makes me respond so emotionally to these stories.
Like most first person stories, the world building isn’t as intricate as telling a story from multiple point of views. That is perfectly fine because as the books go on, the world opens up considerably, and we get a better understanding of Hobb’s world.