August 7, 2014 by mmileti
Robin Hobb is one of my very favorite authors, and she has had a long career full of excellent fantasy novels. When she announced that she would once more return to the Six Duchies in a trilogy that would follow FitzChivalry Farseer, Hobb fans everywhere rejoiced. This is her third trilogy featuring Fitz, and he has always been my favorite of her protagonists. I am extremely honored to be able to review the first novel in the new Fitz and Fool series, Fool’s Assassin. Since this novel is a continuation of a long established story line, I would strongly recommend first reading Hobb’s other Fitz series, starting with Assassin’s Apprentice.
Fool’s Assassin begins by dropping the reader into the middle of Fitz’s happy retirement from the intrigue of the Farseer line. It has been approximately ten years since the events that took place in Fool’s Fate, and everyone but Fitz’s closest friends and family believe him to be dead. He is now known as Tom Badgerlock, and he lives a peaceful life in the manor at Withywoods with his wife Molly. But Fitz can never fully escape his turbulent past as an assassin for the throne, and a bastard of the Farseer line. One Winterfest night a messenger arrives for Fitz, only to disappear from his own household before delivering the message, leaving nothing but a trail of blood. Suddenly the violence of Fitz’s past is brought painfully to the present, and peace of his retirement is gone for good.
This novel has less action and adventure than Hobb’s other stories, yet her writing is so strong she still manages to engage the reader enough that it is hard to put Fool’s Assassin down. Though it is not a hugely eventful start to a new series, it leaves the reader completely on the hook, and promises an ambitious story for Fitz’s future.
The true magic of Hobb’s writing is how she makes the reader care for her characters. Even the everyday events of a Fitz’s life are fascinating, and his struggles can easily break the reader’s heart. The introduction of a new character close to Fitz’s heart serves to engage the reader deeper in the story than ever before, and creates a fascinating dynamic that makes this novel truly great.
Hobb is tougher on her characters than any other author I know, and her stories serve to remind us that good does not always triumph and a greater meaning and purpose is not often revealed. She emphasizes the journey of her character’s lives rather than the destination, and this is what really makes her novel’s stand out. If you are looking for a fast paced and lighthearted read, I advise you to look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a story that will make you feel deeply for its characters, or a glimpse of a detailed and vast world filled with mysterious magic, then Hobb’s novels are definitely for you. Long time readers of Hobb may be slightly disappointed about the lack of epic adventure in Fool’s Assassin, but they will be mollified by the beautiful story that Hobb weaves, and the promise of greater adventures to come.
Overall, I would rate this book 8/10.
I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.