Group read: Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb - Farseer trilogy
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Welcome to our group read of Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings series. This is the thread to discuss Royal Assassin, the second book in the series, in March.
Link back to the main group read organisation thread with a full series listing and timetable.
I wasn't planning to set a timetable for reading certain chapters by a certain date but I would say to use the spoiler tags (<spoiler>spoilery comments</spoiler>) and perhaps also include the chapter in bold so people who are reading along know whether it's safe to read the spoilers.
I am in the mood, so But I will get Assassin's Apprentice from Audible first. I'm sure I'll be able to get through both in March.
I'm in! There's 33 chapters plus an epilogue, so I'm aiming to spread out the experience and read around 8 chapters per week.
I've finished! I have comments and questions, which I will try to chime in with at appropriate points. Another great read and I can't wait to get started on the final part. I have a question for right now - how do all the other books set in the same universe tie in with these? I get that they are set in the same fictional universe, but are there deeper connections than that? Do characters overlap? Is the timeline roughly the same? I see that the Fool seems to have his/her own massive Trilogy that looks intriguing, but what of the others?
I'll be following along. Read this one a few years back.
>5 HanGerg: They all tie together. The Tawny Man is a direct sequel to The Farseer Trilogy. People from Liveships show up in it, though minor. And Liveships does touch on Farseer though you might not realize it until later. The Rain Wilds Chronicles builds upon the Liveships. And though I haven't started them yet, I think Fitz and the Fool series ties them all together. I'll let you know sometime this summer when I read them :)
>3 The_Hibernator: Hi Rachel. Welcome! We're leaving a one month gap between the books so even if you don't manage both books in March you'll have April to catch up :-)
>4 Arifel: Good to have you with us Adri! That sounds like a good plan but I know that once I start reading I don't think I'll be able to space it out.
>5 HanGerg: Hannah - really?! Wow! Well done! Please do comment as other people start reading.
>6 Narilka: Thanks for the background Gale. I knew the Tawny Man series was a sequel but wasn't sure about the other series.
I'm in. I'll probably start this weekend and then I'll probably read right through, as I'm like Heather and will not be able to space it out once I get started.
I'm a little late to the party, but as one of the instigators, I'm definitely in :-)
I just need to finish my current library read then I can dive in!
I'm reading but keep forgetting to stop by and comment.
I'm up to Chapter Thirteen and
Ok, I'm not sure when it happens so I'll put it in spoliervision, but can anyone enlighten about this one thing I couldn't figure out about this instalment
In general, the thing I like about both books I've read so far is how real and believable the human interactions feel, for example
>10 souloftherose: Hannah, I'm now on Chapter 19, and
>11 HanGerg: Hannah, I had the same question about
I'm starting to be very frustrated with the book.
>11 HanGerg:, >12 rretzler: Re Kettricken riding (which is Chapter Seven),
I think from Kettricken's point of view she's incredibly lonely and very bored as Queen-in-Waiting. Regal can be very charming when he wants to be and I imagine that combination and the offer of some activity (riding - actually getting out of the castle) outweighed her doubts.
>12 rretzler: Re Fitz,
And yes, his avoiding Shrewd is not just selfish but dangerous.
I can't promise that those frustrations with Fitz are going to go away - he is in general a very flawed character and as he is our viewpoint character for this trilogy and I think some of the others, I can understand how these books wouldn't work if you find him too annoying.
Some notes from my reading:
>14 souloftherose: To Fitz defence
>15 souloftherose: Chapter Thirteen:
Fitz and Molly:
Well, my plans to read this slowly through the month massively fell through, but I've finally started reading a couple of days ago and am up to the start of Chapter 7, so on track to join discussions soon!
Without spoilers, one thing I'm really appreciating on this readthrough is how most of the characters swing so much between being likeable and being totally frustrating and/or unpleasant (with a couple of obvious exceptions who are constantly the worst). It drives home how isolated Fitz is and what an undertaking it is for him to reach out to anyone when he has to so carefully calculate how his partial allies will respond to anything he trusts them with.
Also, (again without spoilers, not least because I don't actually have time to look up how to do the tags right now...!) my favourite character has showed up and I'm super excited to rediscover how their integration plays out.
Just finished up with this, and can say that 17 years after my first read, this trilogy is still pressing all my buttons.
With spoilers to the end of Book 2 (the spoiler tag is literally the easiest bit of HTML, how did I not remember it):
The ending was exactly as brutal as I remembered. Regal is such a chillingly awful antagonist, and I really appreciate how Hobb makes both his strengths and his flaws play into that role by having other characters underestimate him and ultimately allow him to succeed. I was much less patient with Verity's decision to wander off into the mountains, which felt like it wasn't super well set up - it's so obviously signposted as a terrible decision from the second it's introduced (not least because Regal jumps on it and agrees!) that it's hard to really sympathise with why Verity makes it.
I generally agree with the above discussion about Fitz being a very self-absorbed character, with an odd combination of insightfulness and short-sightedness shaping his worldview. In his defence, at this stage he has almost no experience with interpersonal relationships that aren't ostensibly transactional or instrumentalist - every part of his identity, including his name, is about his status and birth and while we as onlookers can see that other characters love and value him outside of that (Burrich and Patience being the strongest examples), it makes sense that Fitz struggles to build relationships that aren't "use or be used". I can understand why this might cause some people to bounce off, but for me the moments where I want to shake the boy vigorously and tell him to sort himself out are more than balanced out by the character moments where he realises that, yes, his family and friends do value him for more than just what he is useful for, even if many of them also have really messed up ideas of affection and are also trying to use him most of the time.
Took a bit of effort not to just read straight through to Book 3, where I await more (VAGUELY RECALLED BOOK 3 SPOILERS:)
(Very, very mild series set-up spoilers ahead - will put behind tags anyway!) On a side note, the thing that irritated me most on this readthrough was the weird-by-2018 standards of diversity in this book. Like, in theory
Sorry, everyone, I got a bit distracted with work stuff over the last couple of weeks and forgot to check this thread.
>21 Arifel: Potential spoilers for book 3:
So, I think a few of us have finished from comments on the thread. Does anyone want to wade in with their final thoughts?
For those still reading, we're not due to start the third book, Assassin's Quest, until May so please keep reading and commenting on Royal Assassin here and I'll try to be better at checking the thread.
As noted on the main Farseer thread, I finished! Oops, must be better at double-checking thread names.
>22 souloftherose: On diversity
I did notice the lack of women and women in power, but I'd also struggle to think of epic fantasy from the 1990s that don't have the issue. Juliet E McKenna is another epic fantasy author contemporary to Hobb (her first book was published in 1999) and the numbers aren't any better in her works. It's still not an easy sell now to have epic fantasy with lots of women in strong roles - it was probably almost impossible in the 1990s.
>23 souloftherose: Final thoughts:
>24 archerygirl: Agreed with the impatient for the next book but also glad to give my emotions a break!
Yeah, I've started book three but it's really dragging because it's just hard to handle all the unrelenting negativity of Fitz's life. Apart from his stolen moments of intimacy with Molly and his night time hunts with his wolf, there's very few pleasant things in his life. Even those are tainted by being taboo or forbidden in some way, so there's no simple, uncomplicated good thing in his life. Sheesh!
If I may proceed with some thoughts about this book without spoilers (we're all done, right?)
I got a little frustrated with how, in being preoccupied with his own problems, Fitz failed to see the obvious danger and distress that King Shrewd was in. It also seemed a touch repetitive how he would go to see him, think things were bad and that something should be done, then get distracted by some other thing more important to himself and then move on without addressing it. Linked to this, Verity and Chade seemed unavailable to him a lot. It just felt like typical author manipulation, taking away the mentors so that the main character has to do some of the heavy lifting, kind of like Harry having to fight Voldemort instead of Dumbeldore, because otherwise where's our story?
>21 Arifel: I like your idea that other characters underestimate Regal. That would explain why he's allowed to get away with all the terrible stuff he does. To me, it was another point of frustration with the story, that no-one was keeping a close enough eye on him or giving him too much access to the king and other important players.
For these reasons, it only got 4.5 stars, not 5 like the first book. Yep. Hated it!
>26 HanGerg: Fitz certainly has a harsh life, but he is a flawed character with whom we can nonetheless sympathize - so many vp characters really are flawlessly observant, even tempered, generous, and well, not as self absorbed as almost every real person is. I find that difficult but refreshing and one of the reasons I enjoy Robin Hobb's books.
>26 HanGerg: >21 Arifel: Hannah and Adri, I agree that the characters underestimate Regal, but what confuses (or frustrates) me is why. I think everyone seems to know that he was behind all of the awful stuff that happened in the Mountain Kingdom - at least Verity and Kettricken certainly do, and I have to believe that Chade does as well, and even perhaps Burrich. (Too many books between now and Assassin's Apprentice.) Yet I agree that no one seems to be keeping an eye on him. I would honestly think that Chade would do so to protect Shrewd, without letting Shrewd being aware.
And yes, it is all just manipulation - Hobb seems to be another author that throws everything at the main character. Just when you think that there couldn't possibly be anything worse than what has already happened...
It reminds me somewhat of Lois McMaster Bujold's treatment of Miles Vorkosigan - he has gone through everything (and I guess what he hasn't gone through Fitz has.) Although it certainly adds to the suspense and makes one want to keep reading, I think it can sometimes backfire and become frustrating and perhaps a little forced. So far, I'm not there with Hobb...yet.
Finished! I've been avoiding this thread until I had; and I'm glad I've got May for the next book because I thought I was falling behind already.
>12 rretzler: >14 souloftherose: You have to add through the first book, but I think I worked out that Fitz was about 15 or 16 at the end of that one. I lost track of how long this book took - was it one year or two? It begins and ends in winter, anyway. I don't think he can be more than 18 by now, at the most.
Going back to the question of Wit vs Skill, I had assumed that one was an extension of the other but when I read the scenes were Fitz used both at the same time, he said that they were very different.
It does seem as though folks are superstitious about the Wit and believe that if a person uses it too long, they will forget their human-ness (I'm not sure you can use the word 'humanity' with respect to some of the characters) and turn into a beast, or at least have the mind and manners of a beast in a human body.
>30 humouress: I'd come to a similar age for Fitz, so I'm glad I'm not the only one! It does make me boggle a little at some of the things he says and does--he's old for his age--but also makes sense of his feelings about Molly and what he does: it's very much a teenager first love sense that I got, which makes more sense for someone that age than it would for someone closer to mid-twenties.
>33 Narilka: Thanks. I haven't read that yet; I stopped at the Rain Wilds the first time around.
>32 archerygirl: Yes, he does behave like a teenager in a lot of ways. I've put it in my review, but haven't posted it yet - will get around to that soon.
>35 humouress: When Fitz is being particularly teenager-ish, I have to remind myself that he's really is a teenager even though the adults are putting huge adult responsibilities on him, and he's not going to have the emotional maturity that I want him to have. Keeping that in mind does make it easier to forgive some of the bad choices he makes, though.
>36 souloftherose: Although, and for good reason, humor is not the first quality of Dorothy Dunnett's writing that people mention, it was her completely new to me dangerous and dark humor that captivated me in The Game of Kings. My reaction to her books was - why didn't anybody tell me how funny she was! Of course, my absolute favorite paragraph is one almost every one else passed over with hardly any notice at all.
>37 archerygirl: Fitz does make some good choices latter in life, but not invariably. He is a more human protagonist than most fantasies present.
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