Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy opener is a fantasy classic. Review by Violet Kane

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In her debut novel, and the first novel of the world of Six Duchies, Robin Hobb shows since-fulfilled promise in Assassin's Apprentice.

This novel opens as a nameless boy, a bastard of one of the royal princes, is brought into service among the household staff of the King's holdings. His introduction is a political move by the alleged father, Prince Chivalry, who is embroiled in a conflict for succession with his brothers. These royal politics form the backdrop of the boy's childhood. The boy—dubbed Fitz—serves first as caretaker for the royal brood of dogs, but he gains prominence after entering training as an assassin. Meanwhile, his natural father's death heightens the competition between the two remaining brothers. Fitz is drawn onto the stage of royal politics as he finds favor with one of the royal brothers, but disfavor with another.

Robin Hobb, quite frankly, delivers precisely what most fantasy readers are looking for. Her atmospheric descriptions of royal court life, her spinning of political intrigues, her buildup of expectation and adventure make this book what readers want to "scratch the fantasy itch." I knew that Hobb was well-beloved by her fans for very traditional genre-storytelling, and because of it I was wary going in. Traditional too often translates for clichéd and event-driven. Fortunately, this is not the case with Assassin's Apprentice. Hobb creates a skilled layering of beloved fantasy traditions and fresh storytelling. Despite the fact that Fitz often finds himself a pawn of royal players, this story is ultimately character-driven. We watch as Fitz grows toward manhood, his character being shaped by the decisions he must make in reacting to court politics and royal opinion.

Anyone looking for a good old-fashioned fantasy adventure will enjoy this protagonist-centered coming-of-age tale.

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Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.

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