About the Book
‘Fantasy as it ought to be written’ GEORGE R.R. MARTIN
Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.
But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…
On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.
Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?
Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.
688 pages (Hardcover)
Published on August 12, 2014
Published by Del Rey
This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.
Robin Hobb is an incredible author. I’ve read all of her books, and I’ve loved almost all of them. Hobb has a way with really pulling me into a character that very few other authors manage on her esteemed level. Her books resonated with me to the point where I remember just about every detail that I read years ago. That’s very rare for me. Fitz is one of those characters who really grabbed me and never let go. He’s unforgettable in every aspect.
When I heard that Hobb was revisiting Fitz and the Fool, I got really excited. It would be nostalgic – a trip down memory lane. Somewhere I’ve always wanted to revisit, but you can’t ever really get that back. You can re-read all you want, but you can’t ever get that first read experience back…. Unless the author writes a new book set in that same world.
Automatically this book will grab people like me, people who love Hobb’s world, her characters, her unforgettable style. I should also say that, while I think new Hobb readers could start here, I think most of the characters, relationships, settings and situations will be better appreciated and understood by tried and true Fitz and Fool readers. So many nuances will be lost on the new readers – that’s not to say that enjoyment would be impossible.
Hobb has this way with writing honest, deep, and emotional characters that are so raw and real that they honestly become part of the reader. We aren’t just reading about someone – we are that someone. Hobb really transports her readers, and it’s no different with Fool’s Assassin. Fitz and Molly have grown up a bit. A lot of time has passed, life has moved on and changed direction. In a genre where so many characters are so young, it was incredibly refreshing to start a book with characters who are middle aged, but lack no energy and passion for that.
Perhaps the biggest sticking point of the novel will be the fact that so much of this book is development, the daily details of life with Fitz and Bee. There is very little action until readers get to the end. While Hobb has a way with making day to day scenes interesting – beyond interesting, really, I can almost guarantee that some readers will feel like the book meanders a lot. A lot is said while little happens. That’s something to be aware of before setting into Fool’s Assassin.
Fool’s Assassin switches first person perspectives between Fitz and his daughter Bee. I am hard pressed to tell you which character I thought was more captivating and interesting. Bee has a perspective that is pretty unforgettable. She’s unique with how she entered the world, and she is unique with how she lives in it and perceives so much of what happens. Fitz has the benefit of being older, with his interesting past that affects his current life directly. It’s fascinating to see how this character has grown and developed in the years between where we left him, and where he ends up. Hobb did a superb job with both characters.
In truth, Fool’s Assassin feels like more of a journey back to the heart of something incredible than anything else. It takes a little while to see what direction things are moving, but at a certain point in the novel it becomes startlingly clear that the book has always been moving in one specific direction the whole time. Hobb moves her plot subtly where so many authors are more direct and obvious about the direction they push events. However, this goes back to the point that I made earlier. Some readers might feel like things meander a bit more than they like.
It’s really hard for me to review this book because I feel so strongly about the author and all of her other books. I can’t really be a good judge. I’m a biased party. I love Hobb. She’s one of those authors who managed to talk directly to my soul, and having her revisit Fitz and the Fool is some weird nerdy dream come true. She didn’t disappoint. I read this book, and I felt like I was hugging a dear friend. A friend who has been gone for a long time, remembered fondly, and missed dearly.
It just feels so damn good to be back with Fitz. It feels so damn good to hand myself over to Hobb’s mastery and trust where she’ll take me.
There is nothing quite like the experience of reading a Robin Hobb book for the first time.
I’ve got nothing articulate to add, Sarah. You’ve used all the words 🙂
Even though “nothing happened” for a good portion of the novel, I could be lost in her prose and storytelling for another 400 pages of character development. I absolutely loved this novel, too.
I too think it will be nice to revisit the world of Fitz, I’m looking forward to this one. Seeing him older and wiser, and interacting with the younger ones, will be a treat. and it looks like a nice big book too. I’m very curious to see what she’s come up with. Great review.
I had worries going into the novel. I have worries for the next novel. But I ended up enjoyed the experience of reading Fool’s Assassin itself very much.
I also think that a lot happens in those middle chapters (even if it’s all just set up for the huge plot advances and reveals of the ending). I needed that amount of time to fully calibrate my perceptions of Fitz and understand his life since the events of the last book and where he now is as a person. I also found his interactions with the Plot Spoiler to feel more real because those little advances and retreats, misunderstandings and re-understandings ring true to life, and I think having that amount of time to solidify the relationship is going to be very important going forward.