Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review - Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb

Title:  Fool's Assassin
Series: The Fitz and the Fool #1 (but really a sequel to The Farseer Trilogy and The Tawny Man Trilogy)
Author: Robin Hobb
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Pages: 688
Goodreads Rating: 4.29/5 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Publisher: Del Rey
My Content Rating: 16+ (Sex is implied, but not shown)

Summary from Goodreads: Nearly twenty years ago, Robin Hobb burst upon the fantasy scene with the first of her acclaimed Farseer novels, Assassin’s Apprentice, which introduced the characters of FitzChivalry Farseer and his uncanny friend the Fool. A watershed moment in modern fantasy, this novel—and those that followed—broke exciting new ground in a beloved genre. Together with George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb helped pave the way for such talented new voices as Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, and Naomi Novik.

Over the years, Hobb’s imagination has soared throughout the mythic lands of the Six Duchies in such bestselling series as the Liveship Traders Trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. But no matter how far she roamed, her heart always remained with Fitz. And now, at last, she has come home, with an astonishing new novel that opens a dark and gripping chapter in the Farseer saga.

FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.

Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.

Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one. . . .

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to see that Hobb was writing a new book about Fitz!  As much as I have loved all of her books, the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy have always held a special place in my heart.  I couldn't wait to see what Hobb had in store for Fitz (and the Fool!) next!

Let me start by saying that you really need to read both the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy before you tackle this book.  Even though it's technically the start to a new series, it's definitely a continuation of those other two. In fact, I needed to go back and found recaps of the first six books to refresh my memory because it's been so many years since I read them.  I actually think that I should go back and re-read both series, but I obviously haven't done it yet.

Fool's Assassin starts up about 10 years after Fitz and the Fool parted ways. Fitz is now living a peaceful life with Molly, having escaped all of the danger of his old existence as an assassin. The one thing missing from his life is the Fool - he hasn't heard from him at all since the Fool left him. Most of the book actually takes place in during this peaceful period in Fitz's life (part of what is described in the synopsis happens right away, but it really isn't picked up again till toward the end of the book). Still, fans of Hobb's previous series will love this new chapter in Fitz and the Fool's story!!

  • Fitz!  Fitz has always been one of my favorite characters ever. Even though he is often infuriatingly imperfect, there will always be a spot in my heart for this character. In the first six books, I ached with him over his loss of Molly, so I loved seeing him with her at last. But I also loved that his "perfect" life is still bittersweet because of the loss of the Fool - he has in no way forgotten him, and we see that his love for the Fool truly runs as deep as his love for Molly. Fitz's relationship with a new character (see my next point!) only makes my love for him stronger!
  • A new POV.  A new character is introduced in this book, and we get to see Hobb's world through her eyes. I don't even want to say who the new character is because I feel like it would be spoiling things, but she is a pivotal character with ties to both Fitz and the Fool. The Fool himself doesn't make an appearance until late in this book, but I felt like this new character bridged that gap in a lot of ways (even if Fitz didn't seem to acknowledge that for some reason!). Again, I want to say more, but I feel like it would be spoiling things - so I'll just say that I was incredibly emotionally invested in this new character and where her story was headed.
  • The ending.  The last ten or fifteen percent of this book really picked up (see my one negative below) and I couldn't believe some of the things that were happening!! I was riveted and in tears, wondering if at least one of my beloved characters wasn't going to make it through alive. Plus, I still can't stop thinking about the very ending and what it all means. I have so many questions spinning through my head and I NEED to know what will happen next!
The negatives:
  • Not a lot of action.  This book felt very much like a bridge book between the old trilogies and this new series.  A good portion of the book dwells on Fitz' feelings about the Fool, Molly, Chade and a new character that I don't want to spoil. It explores his new settled life now that he's no longer FitzChivalry the assassin. Despite what the synopsis says, not much actually happens until the end of the book. Because I was already so invested in these characters, I didn't get bored at all (but some people might) - it was actually perfect for me because I needed the reminders about what had happened in those first six books and I was happy to settle in with Fitz (who I've always loved) and the new character (who I loved based on her associations with Fitz and the Fool). But don't expect this book to be as action-packed as some of Hobbs' other books.
    Fool's Assassin is a character-driven fantasy that will transport you back into the lives of beloved characters. If you're a fan of Hobb, you won't be disappointed! I give it 4/5 stars.

    ***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

    About the Author
    Robin Hobb is a fantasy novelist currently living and working in Tacoma, Washington. Best known for The Farseer Trilogy (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest), she has been actively writing and published since she was eighteen years old. Born in California, she moved to Fairbanks, Alaska at the age of ten with her family in the early 1960’s. She found she loved the wilderness and the deep dark and cold of the winters there. Many of her experiences there flavor her writing. In 1970 at the age of 18, she married Fred Ogden and moved to Kodiak Island where he quickly infected her with his love of all things maritime. Over the course of the next forty years, as they followed the needs of his career, she lived in places ranging from Idaho to Hawaii and Alaska again. They now reside in Washington State. Their four children are now grown with children of their own. Her writing career began under the name Megan Lindholm. She wrote for local newspapers as well as children’s magazines such as Highlights for Children and Jack and Jill, as well as creating short fiction for children to be used in the SRA programmed reading material. In the 1980’s, she began to write short fantasy. In 1981 she won an award from the Alaska State Council for the Arts for her short story “The Poaching. In 1983, she published her first novel, Harpy’s Flight. Other works under the Lindholm name include The Reindeer People, Wizard of the Pigeons and Cloven Hooves. Her short fiction works have been finalists for both the Nebula and the Hugo awards and the winner of the Asimov’s eaders Award.

    In 1995, Assassin’s Apprentice, her first work under the name Robin Hobb, was published by Bantam Books. In the years since, she has written The Liveship Traders Trilogy, The Tawny Man Trilogy, The Soldier Son Trilogy and the four volume tale, The Rain Wilds Chronicles. Her current work in progress, tentatively titled The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy, returns to the world of the Farseers and the realm of the Elderlings. Her works have been translated into over twenty languages, and have won awards such as The Elf Fantasy Award in the Netherlands and the Imaginales Award for a Translated Work in France. Closer to home, she has won the Endeavor Award for works published in the Pacific Northwest. Her hobbies include gardening, mushroom hunting and bothering her cat. She also continues to write short fiction as Megan Lindholm.

    Author Links:
     photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png