Assassin's Apprentice

Assassin's Apprentice

Book - 1996
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Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 1996
ISBN: 9780553573398
Branch Call Number: SF HOBB ROBIN
Characteristics: 435 p. : map ; 18 cm


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Mar 06, 2019

In Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, the bastard son of a king-in-waiting grows up balancing on a seesaw controlled by the many characters around him who fear, loathe and—in some cases—stand in awe of him. The boy knows a few things for sure: his very presence has caused deaths and royal upheavals … and he is expendable. As he gets older, the boy gains a variety of abilities, much knowledge and a name. These gifts combine to thrust him into a battle for both his life and the salvation of the throne as he believes in it.

I enjoy light fantasy with dark twists set in locations reminiscent of Arthurian times, and this book did not disappoint. One of the things I think the author did exceptionally well is capture the mindset of a boy of six, a boy of nine and a boy of fourteen. As he got older, his thoughts and the way he saw his place and the world around him grew. This book is the first in a trilogy and, as such, ends with many unanswered questions. However, it’s done quite well and leaves the wisp of an “I wonder … ” in the reader’s mind between books. I am anxious to learn who his mother is, how the excerpts at the beginning of every chapter come into play in later installments and more about the Forging and the Forged—especially since they remind me of the reavers of Firefly fame. Another aspect I relished was how Hobb deliberately chooses each word or phrase. One example of a great little turn of phrase that made me stop and contemplate lies on page 401. “I took my poison and left.” I sent her mental high fives when I read that.

The excerpts at the beginning of each chapter were a little confusing at first, and I went back to read the first one a few times as characters emerged; however, I could definitely see a purpose and a place to them toward the end of the book. Several aspects of Hobb’s book put a grin on my face because she tends to break the “rules;” and she does it well. Many would condemn those opening excerpts, for one example. Another instance that comes to mind is the fact that her main character is a kid. The voices are loud that would claim an author cannot write an adult novel and have a child as the main character. For all those, I will now and forevermore point to Assassin’s Apprentice.

My only sorrow in reading this book is that I’m just now coming to Robin Hobb’s work. Of course, I suppose I can look at the brighter flip side of that and eagerly anticipate reading all the rest!

If you enjoy adventure, intrigue, mind games, magic, sorcery, description, details and deeply flawed characters you will want to grab a round at the pub with, you will enjoy this book.

This is the very beginning of the Farseer Trilogy (publication order) and what will eventually become the 16 book series The Realm of the Elderlings. This is where we first meet FitzChivary Farseer and we begin a journey that will take us through his amazing life. Robin Hobb excels in character writing and world building. As you meet her characters, they become real to you and sometimes it will break your heart. Each book in this series is better than the last, and this is a great place to start the adventure.

DBRL_KatSU Apr 13, 2018

After reading (and falling for) "The Name of the Wind" by Rothfuss, I was wanting a similar coming-of-age fantasy. I was initially weary of this title, thinking it would be full of violence and gore, but it really wasn't! (To be fair, there is SOME violence, but much less than I was expecting with "assassin" in the title.)

While Fitz doesn't have all the charms of Kvothe, they do share a decently tragic past and the inklings of magic. The world-building by Hobb was excellent, and I found myself coming back just to experience life in Buckkeep Castle. I also really enjoyed the relationships between the characters- some become fairly nuanced.

While, for me, this wasn't as amazing as "The Name of the Wind," I did get that heartwarming feeling I was looking for with this book, so that's a win!

Jun 07, 2017

This book specifically is very good. I would give it a wonderful rating if the rest of the series was as good. However, the second and third books wander away from the plot introduced in the first book, and I disagree with their portrayal of some moral decisions made by the protagonist. I wish I could recommend this book, but I'm afraid I can't.

Beatricksy May 13, 2017

Lyrically written with an interesting plot and fascinating world building. The universe feels inhabited by actual people, which for fantasy isn't always the case. It's more descriptive than action packed, which gives it a lovely sense of weight and nostalgia (though the action is definitely there, too). It isn't my favorite fantasy series--I'm not sure if it covers anything new in the genre--but it's definitely made me want to read the next one, which I don't say very often. And, aside from some violence [the MC is a child for much of this, which can make you cringe] and some moody [suicidal] thoughts midway through, it's a tolerably clean read for a big age range.

Lord_Vad3r Jan 31, 2017

Fitz Chivalry Farseer is a royal bastard and I mean that in a literal sense.

This does fall into the fantasy genre and so Hobb has carefully crafted a world with a medieval feel. It is heavy on description as many other works of the genre are and I feel that about half the description could be cut out. Also pretty much everyone in the book seems to speak better English than you would hear anywhere in the U.S. There was a peasant near the beginning who referred to Fitz as "the bastid." Apparently he was a peasant from the Boston area but that was the only example of low speech.

Those are really my only two complaints. The pacing is good. I like the characters and the world that Hobb has created. The story follows Fitz as he is trained as King Shrewd's assassin. Fitz's weakness is that he really feels alone much of the time. This leads him to "bond" with animals using a mental sort of telepathy. This can be dangerous as men sometimes become more beast than human if they perform the bond too frequently.

There are numerous intrigues that take place within Shrewd's kingdom, many fostered by his youngest son Regal. These all occur with the backdrop of a much larger threat, the outislanders. This group raids villages and somehow turns its inhabitants into cannibalistic zombies. They become more and more bold as the story progresses.

Thematically there are a lot of messages regarding the roles of leaders as servants to their people. I feel like that is a pretty relevant message for the time s.

sarahfelkar May 01, 2015

Palace intrigue, spies, assassins, poisons, and a young man trying to find his place in the world. A engrossing classic high fantasy novel.

Mar 25, 2015

I first encountered this book after I had finished the Game of Thrones and was looking for something similar. Some Amazon users who liked GOT also liked this book. I read the whole thing and was pretty underwhelmed. I think the only thing the two books had in common is that both authors tend to kill off important characters. And I am not knocking for not being GOT. What I didn't like was that it was so dark and heavy and the payoff at the end of the book just wasn't there. You pretty much just get to watch the main character take abuse the whole time. Maybe at the end of the whole series you get a big payoff but I could hardly make it through this one.

Mar 07, 2014


Jul 30, 2012

well written, good plot, lots of action and adventure - trilogy

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Add a Quote
Jul 29, 2016

“When you spring to an idea, and decide it is truth, without evidence, you blind yourself to other possibilities.”
― Robin Hobb, Assassin's Apprentice

Jul 29, 2016

“Don’t do what you can’t undo, until you’ve considered what you can’t do once you’ve done it.”
― Robin Hobb, Assassin's Apprentice

Jul 29, 2016

“Don’t do what you can’t undo, until you’ve considered what you can’t do once you’ve done it.”
― Robin Hobb, Assassin's Apprentice


Add Age Suitability
Jan 18, 2018

Cluckieduck thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jul 12, 2010

cpurvis thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary
Jul 12, 2010

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.


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