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Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer…

Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) (original 1995; edition 1996)

by Robin Hobb, Michael Whelan (Illustrator), John Howe (Illustrator)

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6,894128526 (4.13)259
Title:Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1)
Authors:Robin Hobb
Other authors:Michael Whelan (Illustrator), John Howe (Illustrator)
Info:Spectra (1996), Mass Market Paperback, 435 pages
Collections:Fiction, Your library, Favorites

Work details

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb (1995)

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» See also 259 mentions

English (117)  French (4)  Dutch (4)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  All languages (128)
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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.

In Book One, King Shrewd’s half-brother Chade trains Fitz to be The King’s Assassin. It is Fitz’s job to go where the King (through Chade) sends him and to quietly get rid of enemies, including the Forged whenever he finds them.

King Shrewd also insists that Fitz receive training in use of Skill, and so Fitz becomes part of a “coterie” of students taught by Galen, the twisted, masochistic half-brother to Regal. Galen is a cruel teacher and hates Fitz, so it is difficult training, in which Fitz does not excel. Galen brutally beats Fitz, trying, it seems to Fitz, to kill him. But in spite of (or because of) Galen's malicious treatment, Fitz feels like a failure, having internalized Galen’s relentless negative judgments of him. Galen also did something damaging to Fitz's Skill, but it is difficult for Fitz to figure out what it is or how to correct it.

As the book ends, Fitz is sent along with a group to the Mountain Kingdoms to retrieve Princess Kettricken to come back to Buckkeep and be wedded to Verity. Verity is busy using his Skill to try to attack the Red Ship Raiders, so Regal is to go in his place to seal the deal. Burrich goes along to tend to the horses, and Fitz goes with an assassin job to kill Ketricken’s brother Rurisk. Regal has convinced his father that Rurisk needs to be eliminated. Fitz is bound to carry out the King’s will, but he begins to suspect Regal has engineered this murder for nefarious reasons.

Soon Fitz discovers that it is not only Rurisk that Regal wants dead, and Fitz and Burrich must also fight for their lives. ( )
  nbmars | Nov 30, 2014 |
This book has been on my to-read list since it came out in 2002, but I was in college and working retail at the time, so I just had no money and even less time to read it. I finally got around to it almost 10 years later.

Totally worth the wait. I am looking forward to reading the next one.

A few thoughts: I almost put this book down. I cannot stand bad things happening to animals, and there were two instances that made me question if I could read any further. Kill the humans off all you want - I've read GRRM; I'm used to it. But touch an animal, especially a pet, and I will hurt you. I managed to get past the issue, but it was close. I'll not give anything else away since we get into spoilers, but I forgive the author. The two incidences were HUGE keys to the story, and that fact did a lot to redeem the actions.

I love Fitz. I love Burrich. I love Chade. And I totally love Verity now. The rest of the characters I could take or leave, and really, mostly leave. Some of them were designed to be hateful bastards (irony: the main character IS a bastard, but he's nice). Others were just scenery. I wish we had had more time to explore the mountain people because they seemed really interesting, and their culture was far more interesting than the standard Medieval fare from the Six Duchies.

The concepts of Wit and Skill were different. I'm curious about why the latter is accepted but the former reviled. I would like to see those delved into a lot more in the next book, especially the Wit portion. And I'd like a way better picture of what is up with Burrich. He's a mystery, that man. A very complex, fascinating mystery.

I think the other thing that annoyed me in this book was the trope of "old man writing his memoir". But to be honest, it mostly annoyed me because it's completely unobtrusive except in the prologue and epilogue, and then it just feels unnecessary. I get that histories at the beginning of each chapter are a part of that other story line, but I didn't really feel like they were as I was reading them. They just felt like a useful way to give some background. It was only the scene with Old Fitz at the end that I even remembered that trope was involved.

All in all, I really liked the book. On to the next! ( )
  ladypembroke | Nov 22, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Hobbprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boehmer, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santikko, SauliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spångberg, YlvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Giles
And for Raphael and Freddy,
the Princes of Assassins.
Bantam 1996 edition:
To Giles
to the memories of
Ralph the Orange
Freddie Cougar
Princes among Assassins
Felines above Reproach
First words
A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history of its ruling family, the Farseers.
[The Fool] was proffering a leather drawstring bag. "What is it?" I asked, and tried not to let him hear either the flowers or the doll in my voice.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 055357339X, Mass Market Paperback)

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father's gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him sectetly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz's blood runs the magic Skill--and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Fitz, Prince Chivalry's illegitimate son raised by Burrich the stableman, is ignored by all the royalty except for King Shrewd, who has him tutored as an assassin because he has the magic Skill.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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