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Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb
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Note: No spoilers for this book, although because it is the third in a trilogy, there will necessarily be spoilers for the previous two books.

This book, by no means a standalone novel, is the conclusion to the “Fitz and the Fool Trilogy.” The story continues the tale of FitzChivalry’s efforts to get revenge on the Servants of the White Prophet for the kidnapping and presumed murder of his daughter Bee. He is aided on his quest by his long-time friend The Fool; The Fool’s attendant Spark; Lant, who is the son of Fitz’s old mentor Chade; Bee’s friend Perseverance (or “Per”); and Per’s companion crow Motley. They complicate matters for Fitz and put him in even more danger, but Fitz of course only feels guilty for not taking better care of them all.

As this third and final volume of this trilogy begins, the group is in Kelsingra, a place where the Skill-magic runs strong.

The Fool decides (based on interpreting dreams) that Bee is still alive, and moreover, that she has been taken to Castle Clerres, the stronghold of the Servants. He also wants to go there to get his own revenge on them, demanding that Fitz “go to Clerres and kill them all.” The Servants, originally meant to help set the world on a better path, got corrupted over time and, as Fool contends, “care only for enriching themselves and their own comfort.” Now they breed those who have precognizant dreams, and profit from “disasters and windfalls.” Moreover, they cruelly tortured Fool for “disobedience.”

Fitz and his group learn that the dragons want revenge on Clerres as well, so they must speed there to rescue Bee, if indeed she is there and alive, before the dragons destroy everyone and everything in Clerres. The leaders of Kelsingra, who feel a debt to both the Fool and Fitz, arrange for their transportation. Part of the trip is accomplished by “liveships,” living ships made of wood formed from dragon cocoons and enhanced by the memories of those who served and died on the ships. A subplot running through the story is the desire of at least some of the dragons at the heart of the liveships to be released to realize their natural forms and destinies.

In alternate chapters, we follow the progress of Bee, who is in fact still alive, and her captors, a warped group from Clerres led by the evil Dwalia. Dwalia and her coterie had originally set out from Clerres to follow The Fool (known to them as “Beloved”) in the hope he would lead them to the Unexpected Son foretold in dreams. They decided Bee was this person, and, killing most of the people at Bee’s home in Withywoods, are now taking her to Clerres for interrogation (and presumably for Dwalia to be rewarded). [It should be noted that The Fool believes Fitz is the Unexpected Son, in addition to being Fool’s “catalyst” to change the world. Fitz, for his part, believes himself to be the foretold “Destroyer.”]

Bee, though weak and sad, is aided by the inner guidance of her wolf-father, Nighteyes.

Bee is put in a prison cell in Clerres, and there meets Prilkop, another prophet who has fallen out of favor with the Servants. She asks him, “Prilkop, just tell me. Do I break the future?” He tells her: “Oh child. We all do. That is both the danger and the hope of life. That each of us changes the world, every day.” Indeed.

Bee decides that the stored memories at Clerres harm the world:

“The problem is not that we forget the past. It is that we recall it too well. Children recall wrongs that enemies did to their grandfathers, and blame the granddaughters of the old enemies. . . . hates are bequeathed to [children], taught them, breathed into them. If adults didn’t tell children of their hereditary hates, perhaps we would do better.”

Thus she resolves to do something about the chain of vengeance. This will be her destined Path.

Meanwhile, Fitz and his group finally arrive in Clerres, and all the plot strands come together. The readers know at least some will not make it out alive, because the dreams have foretold as much. But the dreams are conveyed in symbols and allegories, and moreover refer to the Unexpected Son and the Destroyer, whose identities we also don’t know for sure.

Discussion: We know that in Fitz’s world, “Nothing is really lost. Shapes change. But it’s never completely gone.” But it’s not always clear in what ways this happens. Even the characters in the book aren’t always sure what is real, and what they just wish to be real.

The Fool continues to exercise a sway over Fitz that is very annoying, and I have to say I shared Bee’s assessment of The Fool, and was gratified that I wasn’t the only one to feel that way, even if it was a fictional person that shared my feelings! But this relationship has always been at the heart of the series, and the author stayed true to it throughout the story.

While I loved Bee and Per especially, as with the previous books in the trilogy, I found that some of the most endearing and unforgettable characters were not human.

Evaluation: Overall, in spite of my quibbles, this series is wonderful. Unlike other books of this length, I did not come away from this one (or any of the author's previous books in this saga) wishing it could have been edited to be shorter. On the contrary, I was very sad to see it end! When you spend this much time with memorable characters, it’s very hard to let them go! ( )
  nbmars | Jun 26, 2017 |
I love Robin Hobb's books and this book was good, but I'm just giving it 3 stars because it was much longer than necessary. It was better than the preceding volume of this trilogy; it would have been great but for the repeated sequences of capture-torture-escape.

All that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Fitz and Fool stories. The interaction of all the characters was enjoyable, their special talents were enviable, and Bee's early childhood and secret education were delightful to read. They are all great characters! ( )
  nhlsecord | Jun 12, 2017 |
Perfect ending! I'm both sad and happy at the same time. This is the best book I've read this year. Hell, it will be hard to read anything after this one. Love it so much, love Fitz and Fool so much! ❤️ ( )
  MaraBlaise | Jun 8, 2017 |
~from the Library

This series of Hobb's certainly belongs in that special group of fantasy books that resides near the pinnacle of the genre. Her wordsmithing is so good, and her plotting is amazing. Even so it's perhaps her characters that stand at the fore. After reading this series I feel I've been digging into the thoughts and minds of real people. I know them so well, and yet the characters are complicated enough that some mystery remains.

And what I came to realize as I was preparing to jot down my thoughts, is that one of the things I love about this series and others are the secondary characters. Okay books take you for a fun ride. Really good books give you great main characters; and the best books give you a well rounded cast. Thus we have Per and Nettle, Lant and Shun...

So why the 4 Stars instead of 5? I actually thought this book was a bit long. I think it could have been just as good with fewer pages and tighter writing. But certainly others will disagree and I certainly wouldn't want to put anyone off of THE FITZ AND THE FOOL. Overall, a 5 STAR SERIES. And book #3. Book 3 taught me to love Bee. ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Jun 7, 2017 |
Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb is the final book in The Fitz and the Fool trilogy, itself the third trilogy of trilogies about Fitz. It's book nine, is what I'm saying, or book twelve or sixteen if you count the Liveship books and the Dragon books, which aren't about Fitz but are related. Those two series aren't strictly necessary to understand the events of Assassin's Fate, but I dare say they help, which was not the case for Fool's Assassin or Fool's Quest. I haven't read any of the dragon books nor the final Liveship book and I felt a very small lack. On the other hand, the previous Fitz books — The Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy as well as the preceding volumes of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy — are definitely necessary to make sense of the assassin's fate. This review will contain spoilers for the earlier Fitz books. The blurb also contains spoilers for the earlier books in this series.

When I started reading Assassin's Fate, my recollections of the previous book were a little vague. I remembered the gist but not the precise ending, which turned out to be a little bit of a problem since Assassin's Fate picks up very soon after Fool's Quest left off, especially from Bee's point of view. It is took me longer than I think it should have to work out why Fitz was so convinced Bee was dead because I'd forgotten the events at the very end of Fool's Quest. I don't think this would be an issue if I'd read them closer together. This contributed to me not getting into the book as quickly as I would have liked. The start of the book felt a bit slow and while I wasn't bored I also wasn't as gripped as I am accustomed to being by Hobb books. As a result, it took me about three weeks to get through it, since I got distracted by several Hugo-shortlisted things (mainly short fiction) along the way. On the other hand, it took me only a couple of days to read the second half of the book, in large part because that's when things got really interesting and difficult to step away from. So I suppose it's fair to say the pacing is a little bit off. This is a pretty long book (around 850 pages according to Goodreads for both the US and UK editions) and, in my opinion, that means it can't afford to waste too many pages on less exciting events, even if they needed to happen.

One of the things I really liked about this book was how it tied together all the other series set in the same Realm of the Elderlings universe. As I mentioned at the start, it's not completely necessary to read the Liveship books before reading Assassin's Fate, but we do get a kind of extra Liveship-centric epilogue, which I think fans of that series will appreciate (and those who haven't read any Liveship books will feel as confused by as Fitz was). I also think Hobb ended Fitz's story in a nice way, although the ending took a bit of time to process and gave me rather a lot of feelings. Not to mention, the book is called Assassin's Fate, which should give you some hints about what might happen in it, but by golly Fitz sure has a lot of fates. The latter parts of the book were a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. The end was an ending for all the Fitz and Fool books.

It's hard to say anything very concrete because of wanting to avoid spoilers, but Bee's story was interesting — although she got more than her share of slow bits before the story picked up. I enjoyed learning more about Cleres and where the Fool came from. I also enjoyed reading the start-of-chapter extracts from Bee's dreams, especially once they started happening and we were able to retrospectively join the dots to the events they predicted. There were a few parallels between Bee's life and Fitz's which, towards the end, really emphasised how she was his child more so than Nettle had been, and not just because Fitz was more present in Bee's childhood. But I don't want to venture into spoiler territory.

So, if you've read the other Fitz books, then I strongly recommend finishing off the story with Assassin's Fate. If you haven't also read the Liveship books, then I recommend doing so before Assassin's Fate, especially if you had any general plans to read them at some point. Assassin's Fate contains some critical spoilers for those books and also contributes to their story in its own right. If you haven't read anything by Robin Hobb before, this is pretty much the worst possible place to start. Go back and start with Assassin's Apprentice. This is one of my favourite fantasy series and has been with me for a significant chunk of my life. It was bittersweet to say a final goodbye to the characters and the world.

4.5 / 5 stars

You can find more reviews on my blog ( )
  Tsana | May 29, 2017 |
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Voor Fitz en de nar, al meer dan twintig jaar mijn beste vrienden.
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Kinderen staan in een kring en houden elkaars hand vast
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De landkaart op de muur van de kaartenkamer in Aslevjal toonde een gebied dat het merendeel van de Zes Hertogdommen bevatte, een deel van het Bergrijk, een groot stuk van Kwarts, en landstreken aan beide zijden van de Wilde Regenlanden.
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