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Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy) by…
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Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy) (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Robin Hobb

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5,14962867 (4.17)99
Member:BrandonSanderson
Title:Royal Assassin (The Farseer Trilogy)
Authors:Robin Hobb
Info:Voyager (1997), Paperback, 768 pages
Collections:Your library
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Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb (1996)

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English (58)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (62)
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Background (No Spoilers)

This is a saga about a boy, Fitz, who spends his life always in reluctant service to others - in particular, the Farseer Rulers of the Six Duchies. Fitz wants so much just to follow his own dreams. Yet his royal blood means that self-determination can never really be his fate. Like the rulers of the Mountain Kingdoms acknowledge, those with royal blood must be a “sacrifice” to their people, and have no other choice: “the true ruler of a kingdom is the servant of all.”

Fitz was born out of wedlock to Chivalry Farseer, the King-in-Waiting of the Six Duchies. At age six, Fitz was taken away from his mother by his grandfather and handed over to Verity, Chivalry’s brother, at Buckkeep Fortress.

With Fitz's existence known, Chivalry was forced as a manner of honor to abdicate his right to the throne and to leave Buckkeep. Fitz’s care was given by Verity in part to Burrich, the Stablemaster of Buckkeep and Chivalry’s right-hand man. A third brother, Regal, was jealous of Chivalry and Verity, and when Fitz came, Regal began to hate Fitz the most of all of them. Regal resolved to get rid of all three of them so he could rule after the death of their father, King Shrewd.

The others ignored Regal, because the Six Duchies had bigger (or so they thought) problems. They were being besieged by pirates from the Outislands, who traveled in distinctive red ships, raiding the shores and stealing the wealth of the Six Duchies. Then the Outislanders began kidnapping villagers and by some unknown process returning them as zombie-like monsters. Because this practice began with the village of Forge, such people, no matter their origin, were ever after known as “Forged.”

People who were Forged could not even be detected by the Skill. This was a magic common to those in the Farseer line enabling a person to reach out to another’s mind, no matter how distant, and know that person’s thoughts. If the other person were Skilled also, the two could even communicate through mind-speak, and if one had evil intent, he or she could control or even kill the other person via the Skill.

The trilogy can almost be seen as a catalog of Fitz’s suffering. Yes, he is a hero, but not a shining, caped hero that escapes repeated trials to save the day. Rather, he is battered and bruised, both physically and psychologically, with few moments of happiness. Thus it is that the rare glimpses of sunlight in his life make you want to weep for him. It is not at all spoilery to tell you he survives however, because the trilogy begins as a recounting by a much older Fitz of his memories. But as for how intact he is when he writes down these memories, and what his current status is - for that you have to read the books.

Royal Assassin (Spoilers for Book One)

As Book Two begins, Fitz, 15, is recovering from Regal’s attempt to poison him. King Shrewd’s fool (who only goes by the name Fool), and who is also Fitz’s friend, serves as Fitz’s healer. During this time, Fitz begins to “Skill-walk,” i.e., travel to other minds when he is sleeping, and experience whatever they are experiencing. In one of these dreams, he sees his childhood friend Molly threatened by Forgers. He is determined to find her and see if she survived.

But first, on a trip to the town, he stops at the market, and encounters an angry and abused wolf cub in a cage. Fitz feels like he has come face-to-face with himself. Fitz is “Witted,” meaning that he can communicate with animals, and potentially bond with one. When he sees the horrid condition in which the cub is kept, Fitz buys him from the vendor. He intends to treat the wolf and release him in the wild, but the cub is hungry, cold, and tired, and his pack was all killed. Fitz’s heart was grabbed, and the cub, named Nighteyes, and he bonded. They came to communicate perfectly with one another through mind-speak, becoming brothers who shared their food, their souls, and sometimes even their bodies.

Meanwhile, Fitz finds Molly where he leasts expects, in the Buckkeep Castle working as a lady’s maid to Patience, the wife of his now-deceased father Chivalry. Patience forbids Fitz to court Molly, because he has royal blood and must only marry who King Shrewd demands he marry. She reminds him he has sworn his life to King Shrewd, and “a man whose duty is sworn to a King has little time for anyone else in his life.”

Fitz knows this is true but he can’t keep away from Molly, and they begin a clandestine affair. Or at least, they think it is clandestine. In a castle full of Skilled people, however, nothing remains secret for long.

Fitz harbors bitterness at just being a “pawn,” especially because it keeps him from just marrying Molly and leaving for a life of contentment with her. But Fool lectures him that his life is more than he thinks, that Fitz in fact is a Catalyst. A Catalyst, Fool explains, is someone who is born in a unique position to alter predetermined events, which in turn cascade into new possibilities. Wherever Fitz is, the Fool says, different forks are taken in history. Fool tells Fitz he can change the future of the world, but Fitz is only horrified by the idea.

The situation with the Outislanders continues to deteriorate, and Verity is desperate, Skilling at all hours and using Fitz’s strength to aid him. Molly decides she has had enough, and tells Fitz she is leaving. For his part, Verity determines he must travel to the Mountain Kingdoms in search of the ancient and perhaps mythical “Elderlings,” who pledged to his Farseer ancestors they would help in a future time of trouble.

When Verity leaves, Chade and Burrich deduce that Kettricken and Fitz are in more danger from Regal than ever, especially since Kettricken is pregnant with another potential rival for Regal. They decide to try to help them escape.

Fitz doesn’t know if Kettricken gets away, but he gets caught, and Regal almost succeeds at killing him by turning others against Fitz because of The Wit. The Wit is seen as a degrading and wicked magic by the people, and they fear it, a fear exploited by Regal. But Fitz has a secret weapon, ironically thanks to his Wit - Nighteyes. ( )
  nbmars | Nov 30, 2014 |
I was given this book as a gift several years ago and never managed to get involved in the first one (I suspect I'm just worn out on coming of age books). I picked it up again while sorting through some old books of mine and found it was a cunning, enjoyable read. You don't need the first book in the series to be absorbed. ( )
  eaterofwords | Nov 16, 2014 |
Three stars feels a bit high for this book, but I do think it was an improvement on the first in the series. Hobb tells a good story, but I've come to want more out of my reading, even my pulp fantasy reading, then just a good story.

Hobb delivers a tale w/ a very interesting look into loyalty, duty, and personal independence. These bits were almost smoothly integrated into the plot, it ended up feeling a bit didactic at points but not to the point of distraction. It helped that the didactic bits were interesting to think about.

The Molly character felt painfully underused. Her independent nature was a nice contrast to the protagonist, yet she filled a very standard girlfriend template. I was disappointed that she only appeared when the author wanted to say something about Fitz, she never was developed on her own.

In the books favor, it does wrap one up in an unfolding plot and the resolution is perfect for the middle book of a series. It had an Empire Strikes Back flavor to it that was more satisfying than yet another "underdog wins despite overwhelming odds" resolution. So props to Hobb for not taking the easy way out there. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
I loved this series of books, and this one in particular. Robin Hobb's character development is where she really shines, and Fitz was a character I truly cared about and couldn't get out of my head. This is a good follow up to the first book, and if you enjoyed it, then you'll enjoy this one. ( )
  RoseCrossed | Jun 20, 2014 |
A bit draggy in spots, where the plot didn't catch up and there wasn't enough action. Hobb favors "telling, not seeing" to detail certain events in the kingdom, which can be very wearisome at times. Overall, when the characters actually did things and were motivated, the book picked up. Not as good as Assassin's Apprentice, but still, definitely good enough to want to read the sequel. ( )
  liveshipvivacia | Apr 26, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Hobbprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santikko, SauliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Giles
And for Raphael and Freddy,
the Princes of Assassins
First words
Why is it forbidden to write down specific knowledge of the magics?
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
"Het zijn kwade tijden. En ik vroeg me af of er wel ooit een eind aan zou komen. Het was een vraag die ik me in de daaropvolgende jaren nog vaak zou stellen." - FitzChevalric
Last words
Disambiguation notice
in the portuguese edition the royal assassion was split between o punhal do soberano e a corte dos traidores
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553573411, Mass Market Paperback)

Young Fitz, the illegitimate son of the noble Prince Chivalry, is ignored by all royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has had him tutored him in the dark arts of the assassin. He has barely survived his first, soul-shattering mission, and returns to the court where he is thrown headfirst into the tumult of royal life. With the King near death, and Fitz's only ally off on a seemingly hopeless quest, the throne itself is threatened. Meanwhile, the treacherous Red Ship Raiders have renewed their attacks on the Six Duchies, slaughtering the inhabitants of entire seaside towns. In this time of great peril, it soon becomes clear that the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz's hands--and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Fitz, crippled in his first mission as an assassin, intends to take refuge in a distant kingdom, but is drawn back to his home and the court of the Six Duchies when he learns the kingdom is under attack from outside enemies and inside traitors.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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