Tuesday, 28 July 2015

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Review: Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb

Fool's Assassin by Robin HobbFool's Assassin by Robin Hobb - 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.
From Goodreads.

Oh, I have been dying to read Fool's Assassin, the first book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy,  ever since I first heard Robin Hobb was returning to these characters! It's been out for over a year already in hardback, but it's such a big book, and I do a lot of my reading to and from work, and I didn't want to lug such a heavy book around. I patiently waited for the paperback, and oh my god, it was amazing! And now I don't know if I can wait for the second book to come out in paperback!

I can't even begin to summarise this book like I do all others because there's so much that would be such massive spoilers. As it is, the description above only covers the first two chapters. Seriously. But I will try and give a vague and bare-bones summary.

An aged Fitz. A Fool gone for decades. A strange, mysterious child. Two apprentice assassins; one failed, one entitled, both in danger. Two messengers, visiting years apart; one disappearing and presumed dead, the other mortally injured. Fitz's quiet and contented life as the Holder Tom Badgerlock of Withywoods, with his wife Molly, is to be disrupted, and he will have to fall back on lessons learnt long ago. The assassin FitzChivalry Farseer is needed once again.

Vague enough? Reviewing this book is going to be difficult because a large part of this book revolves around a character who to discuss would just be the biggest spoiler. But I shall do my best.

The very last line of the description from Goodreads - which is also on the blurb - is a little misleading. The book spans a number of years, starting when Fitz is 49, ending he's around 61. So although Fitz is suddenly thrown into a upheaval, it happens several years after the missing and presumed dead messenger comes to Withywoods. There is this huge event that happens that changes Fitz life, though not how you would think, about a quarter to a third of the way in. As soon as it was mentioned, I knew what it meant. As soon as I read the words spoken to Fitz, it was clear to me just how important this news was, on a wider scale than the immediate smaller scale, before the events that followed. And it had me so excited!

However, from about half way onwards for a fair while, I was questioning whether something else of consequence was going to happen in this book. There were smaller things happening, the arrival of various characters into Fitz life, and the mystery surrounded them that I cared about less and less as they became increasingly more unlikable, but nothing major enough to warrant a book this long. Or so I thought. Having finished the book, I understand why the book was written as it was. Although it might not seem so at the time, it's all very important.

There were moments when I wanted to prod Fitz and get him to wake up, and say, "Come on, Fitzy Fitz!" (as the Fool once called him in the very first book, Assassin's Apprentice, during a tongue-teaser of a prediction). There were things happening that he didn't seem to question, or at least not very long, when he most definitely should have, and a conversation should have been had. Events were similar enough to things he had experienced before for them to ring a bell for him, and at the very least, he should have been concerned for a character's sanity, but it didn't really happen. I understand that it probably didn't occur to him, and he had so many distractions in his life, but I do think there should have been at least some worry on his part. If only Fitz had thought about it, he might have worked a few things out sooner. But I guess, then, we would have a completely different story. It just seemed odd; I know he's a lot older now, and it's proven he's been away from an assassin's life so long he's not quite as sharp as he used to be, but it's still Fitz! It just didn't seem like him.

The last quarter of the book is incredible! The pace picks up, and I was turning the pages as fast as I could read them, dying to get through it quickly, because time was definitely of the essence, and I needed to know what would happen! And then, unrelated, something also huge and terrifying happened, because of course it would, Fitz, how can you be so stupid! Such joy and fear and terrible anguish and sadness, and then the book ended! And I am so desperate to know what's going to happen next! The ending so made up for the parts I thought were flagging - even though, as I said, I now know how important they were - and, oh, I have fallen in love with Hobb's mastery all over again! And these characters, I love them so much, and it's so amazing to have a new story to immerse myself in, new adventures to share with them! It's fantastic, and I know, I just know, I will bear the weight of a heavy tome in my work bag to discover what happens next. Incredible story! Robin Hobb fans will not be disappointed!

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Published: 16th July 2015
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Robin Hobb's Website

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