Author: Robin Hobb
Length: 435 Pages (Paperback)
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
This book follows Fitz, the illegitimate son of then king-in-waiting Chivalry. At six Fitz is thrown into the care of Burrich, the stable master, and later becomes apprentice to the king's assassin when the king takes notice of the boy.
This book started out very slowly. The first few chapters were somewhat hard to get through. The magic, what magic there is, was introduced slowly and hard to distinguish. There is the Wit (which I see as a communication with animals that is not accepted) and the Skill (which is being able to communicate with other humans and manipulate their thoughts). Very little of either was actually discussed in the novel. After getting past the first three or four chapters, the novel started to pick up.
The novel reads more like a Victorian era novel (think Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and those types) than it does a modern fantasy. Fitz is recalling his story for us the readers, telling us about his younger days. The narrative style was not something I particularly enjoyed for a fantasy novel, but it kept my interest. I enjoy the Victorian style novels, I've just never experience a fantasy written quite in that manner.
While reading this novel I was constantly going back and forth between ratings. At some points I was almost sure I would rate it three stars, at others four. What finally pushed me over the edge and into the four star rating was the last forty to fifty pages. I could not put the book down at this point.
There are many characters introduced throughout the novel and I found that I enjoyed almost all of them for varying reasons. I do think the novel would be more enjoyable with a slightly different focus. It would be nice to see Fitz working alongside Verity more as apposed to his training with Chade the assassin. And I really enjoyed Burrich. His and Fitz's relationship was an interesting one to see unfold. It was occasionally difficult to see Fitz as he struggled to find a place for himself among those who didn't accept him and those who had loved his father.
I don't feel there is a lot to say about the story as a whole. We get to see Fitz as he is pushed from person to person, living a lonely existence, unable to find his own place. He constantly struggles, wanting love and receiving little of it. He begins training as an assassin, but we see little of his work in that regard. Overall it was an interesting story with rather intriguing characters. The ending was intense and I rather enjoyed those last few scenes of the novel. I'm not sure I will continue with the trilogy. If I do it won't be for a while. This one was good overall, but left me with no real urge to seek out the remaining two installments.
If you enjoy fantasy or Victorian style literature this might be a book you would enjoy. It was a fun, somewhat quick read and I'm glad I read it.